Jets-Raiders Preview

The New York Jets have gotten used to road trips under coach Rex

Ryan, though they usually come much later in the season.

New York begins a stretch of three straight road games Sunday

when it faces the Oakland Raiders, who are coming off a

demoralizing defeat.

The Jets (2-0) have won both of their first two at home,

including a 32-3 rout of Jacksonville last week. New York hasn’t

played three straight road games in the regular season since 1982,

though Ryan’s teams have done so in reaching back-to-back AFC

championship games.

The Jets are 11-5 on the road in the regular season under Ryan,

and 4-2 in the playoffs.

“We’re not intimidated by any surroundings that we go into,”

Ryan said.

Following this trip to Oakland, the Jets travel to Baltimore

before an AFC East showdown at New England. Each contest presents a

different challenge, but they are taking the trip step by step.

“We’ve just got to focus on Oakland, and that’s it,” cornerback

Antonio Cromartie said. “We have to make sure we come in and

prepare for what we need to throughout the entire week and get

ready for a long trip.”

They’ll be facing a Raiders team coming off an emotional 38-35

loss in Buffalo last week in which it allowed touchdowns on each of

the five Bills’ second-half drives.

Oakland (1-1) gave up the game-winning touchdown on fourth down,

when a defensive breakdown left Bills receiver David Nelson wide

open in the end zone with 14 seconds to play.

“Any time you lose, especially in that fashion, it’s very

disappointing,” defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. “But one

game doesn’t make the season. You move forward. 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 challenge will be improving a defense which allowed 223

rushing yards and 481 overall. The Raiders ranked sixth in the AFC

allowing 322.8 yards per game in 2010, but are 25th in the NFL this

season, giving up an average of 395.5 yards.

“You can’t take a play off, you can’t take an opportunity off,

you have to finish everything you do,” coach Hue Jackson said.

“It’s tough in the NFL. We have a good group of men in that locker

room who, hopefully, have learned a very valuable lesson that we

can learn from this and move forward.”

Oakland ranks 27th in the league allowing 127.5 yards on the

ground, which may bode well for the Jets’ struggling running

game.

New York has run for 146 yards in its first two games combined,

its lowest total through the first two weeks since 2007. Shonn

Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson together are averaging 2.7 yards per

carry.

Making matters worse, All-Pro center Nick Mangold suffered a

high ankle sprain against the Jaguars and did not travel to

Oakland, leaving rookie Colin Baxter to start in his place.

“He’s just not ready,” Ryan said Friday. “It’s as simple as

that. He’s doing really well, but a high ankle sprain going against

these guys, traveling across the country, it’s not in his best

interest.”

In its last meeting with the Raiders – a 38-0 victory Oct. 25,

2009 – New York ran 54 times for 316 yards and Mark Sanchez went 9

for 16 for 143 passing. Though Ryan keeps saying he’d like to get

the running game going, its doubtful he could have that sort of

imbalance again.

“I thought (the running game) was slightly better (versus

Jacksonville), but I’m not concerned with that,” guard Brandon

Moore said. “That’ll get better as the season goes. We’ll be

OK.”

Running the ball hasn’t been a problem for Oakland with Darren

McFadden handling the load. He’s averaging 111.0 yards after his

breakout season in 2010, and he also leads the team with eight

receptions.

The Jets defense, however, has allowed only one 100-yard rusher

– Chicago’s Matt Forte on Dec. 26 – in the last 25 games.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Darren McFadden is

one of the most exciting players in this league, bar none,” Jackson

said. “There’s greatness in Darren, and I expect him to play that

way as the season goes.”

New York has won four of the last five meetings.