The Raiders enter Sunday’s game against the Jets knowing they could be 2-0, but allowed last week’s game against the Bills to slip away.
In the NFL, however, there’s always another Sunday, another challenge, another chance. So the Raiders had to try this week to shake off their stunning 38-35 loss in upstate New York and focus on the Jets, who come into the O.co Coliseum 2-0 after a 32-3 victory over Jacksonville in Week 2.
“You move forward,” Oakland defensive tackle Richard Seymour told reporters this week. “I’ve been in many games in my career, and that’s one of the most heartbreaking ones I’ve had. You move forward, and you’ve got to get better as a team.”
The Jets are 3½-point favorites for their first road game of the season, a matchup that features New York’s strong rushing attack vs. the Raiders’ suspect run defense.
So far, Oakland ranks 27th in the NFL against the run, allowing 127.5 yards per game. The Jets, meanwhile, haven’t been able to effectively run the ball in their first two games, but it has been their tendency under coach Rex Ryan to run first and pass second. In the last meeting between these teams in 2009, the Jets ran 54 times for 316 yards in a 38-0 victory in Oakland.
Ryan’s team has reached the AFC Championship Game the past two seasons because of its rushing attack, an emerging quarterback in Mark Sanchez and a defense that has one of the NFL’s best cornerback combos in Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis.
The Jets have two good backs in Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson, but have only run for a total of 146 yards in their first two games. That doesn’t mean they won’t continue to try to pound the ball on the ground vs. the Raiders.
“I know Rex’s mentality is a physical, no-B.S. type of deal,” Oakland defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They’re going to try to establish the run game.”
Added defensive tackle Tommy Kelly: “They’re going to try to run that ball down our throat.”
Offensively, the Raiders can go at the Jets with their own strong running game. Darren McFadden is averaging 111 yards rushing and 5.3 per carry.
While Oakland may be missing receiver/returner Jacoby Ford Sunday – still recovering from a strained hamstring – Darrius Heyward-Bey (who missed last week’s game) should be back, as should tight end Kevin Boss, out since the exhibition season.
The Raiders, however, know that Sunday’s game may come down to Oakland’s ability to stop the Jets on the ground.
“The Jets run the ball a lot on first and second down,” said Kelly. “We have to knock their guys back and get early penetration so we can get them into third and long.”