Raiders dealt a dose of reality by Brady, Patriots
A meeting with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots showed the Oakland Raiders how far they still need to go to be mentioned among the AFC's elite teams.
A week after bullying the New York Jets in an emotional victory in the home opener, the Raiders were dealt a dose of reality in a 31-19 loss to the Patriots that exposed plenty of issues that still need to be addressed if Oakland wants to end a run of eight straight non-winning seasons.
''We're going to fix it, and we have just the men to do it,'' coach Hue Jackson said Monday. ''What we got to do is go out and do it, and do it consistently, play in and play out. There's flashes of brilliance on this football team, whether it be offense or defense or special teams. And then all of sudden, sometimes things don't go the way we want them to. What we got to do is become a very consistent football team, and I think we can, and I think we will.''
The Raiders (2-2) have alternated wins and losses this season, going from a season-opening win in Denver to a second-half collapse in Buffalo to the impressive victory over the Jets to the latest loss to the Patriots.
Now Oakland is in for another tough test this week with a trip to Houston to play a 3-1 Texans team fresh off a victory over defending AFC champion Pittsburgh.
''We just finished the first quarter of the season,'' cornerback Stanford Routt said. ''We've got 12 more. All the challenges from here on out, they're just going to get bigger and they're going to get more important.''
But Jackson's bold expectations haven't changed since the day he was hired last January to replace Tom Cable, even though some issues that he has vowed to solve are still problems - most notably penalties.
''We're going to win the AFC West,'' he said. ''We're going to do everything we can to get in the playoffs and go challenge for a Super Bowl. I am not backing down from that.''
The Raiders have struggled defensively and are currently tied for second-worst in the league with 28.3 points allowed per game. The offense has been much better but had its own problems against the Patriots.
The Raiders gained a season-high 504 yards of offense but were held to a season-low 19 points because they couldn't finish off enough drives with touchdowns and committed a pair of costly turnovers that ultimately doomed them.
Oakland came into the game as the top team in football on drives that reached at least the opponent's 30-yard line, scoring nine touchdowns and two field goals on 11 drives. They weren't nearly as efficient facing the Patriots, which proved costly against such a dynamic offense.
An illegal block penalty on left tackle Jared Veldheer stalled the opening drive after it reached the New England 13, forcing the Raiders to settle for a field goal.
The biggest blunder came late in the first half after the Raiders had driven to the New England 6 trailing 14-10. On second down, Campbell stepped up in the pocket and threw a ball straight to safety Patrick Chung with no receiver in the area in what he could only describe as a ''boneheaded'' play.
The Raiders trailed 24-10 the next time they had the ball and again drove deep into New England territory. On a second-and-10 from the 15, Campbell threw a pass to Jacoby Ford near the goal line. Originally, cornerback Kyle Arrington was called for pass interference. As the ball was being spotted at around the 2, the officials changed their call, saying it was incidental contact and no penalty. That drive also ended in a field goal when Jackson decided to kick on fourth-and-3 from the 8.
''It definitely was a big moment, a big change in the game because it could have been a potential touchdown instead of just three points,'' Ford said. ''You'd be looking at a totally different game. But it just kind of swings that way sometimes. Nothing we can do about it.''
Oakland got down to the 30 on the next drive before Campbell was intercepted by defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and the game was essentially over at that point.
''We know we can be a legit and an elite offense in this league,'' Campbell said. ''We've done it. Not just one week here and there. We've done it week in and week out. ... We just weren't able to finish a couple drives in the red zone, as in the interception, but we definitely feel like we have the ability and we have what it takes to get to the next level.''