Oakland Trying To Break Season-Long Jinx Against Skins

Tim PetersonCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2009

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 06:  Bruce Gradkowski #5 of the Oakland Raiders tries to escape the tackle of Lawrence Timmons #94 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 6, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Oakland won the game 27-24.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If the Oakland Raiders really have turned a corner this season, then getting a home win on Sunday will speak volumes for the down-trodden franchise.


The Raiders inspirational comeback over Pittsburgh would be validated with a victory over Washington. Plus, a win would mark the first time this season that Oakland has won back-to-back games.


Achieving consecutive victories hardly seems noteworthy, especially since there are two teams in the league that are still undefeated at this point.


But Raiders Pro-Bowl punter Shane Lechler begs to differ, he says the team is trying change the culture of losing in Oakland. "It's kind of been our Achilles' heel around here for a while," Lechler told reporters on Wednesday.

"You win one and then a total letdown. We're trying to figure out that process of how to win two (straight) and get something going here a little bit."

After the teams three previous wins, turnovers and poor defense doomed Oakland’s ability get on a winning streak.

Following a win at Kansas City, the Raiders got drilled 23-3 by Denver. JaMarcus Russell threw two early picks and Darren McFadden had a costly fumble in the red zone.

Even though the Raiders defense made a crucial goal line stand in that game, the Oakland defenders eventually crumbled, allowing an appalling 215 yards in rushing to the Broncos.

Four weeks later, following a huge win over Philadelphia, Jets rookie Shonn Green ran over the Raiders for 144 yards on 19 carries. Opportunity No. 2 goes by the wayside, as the J-E-T-S cruise to a 38-zip smashing of the Silver and Black.

And then after another shocking victory, this time over Cincinnati, Dallas stuffs the Raiders 24-7 on Thanksgiving Day.

What a bunch of turkeys (sorry couldn’t resist).

So here’s chance No. 4 and with Oakland sitting at 4-8, it has an opportunity to build some real momentum. Finish the season strong and give the team some identity.

And who better to beat-up on, than a 3-8 Washington team.  The Skins have been called Raiders East for their own inner turmoil and similar maniacal ownership. 

From the highly visible Jim Zorn fiasco, to bringing in an expert bingo caller (Sherman Lewis) to run the offense, Washington has really earned that nickname in 2009.

For the love of Dan Snyder and Al Davis, these two teams were meant for each other—and I haven’t even mentioned DeAngello Hall yet. Hall won’t play this Sunday due to injury though.

But seriously, with the emergence of Bruce Gradkowski and a true passing attack, the Raiders seem to be the team on the rise.

Oakland’s offense is now multi-dimensional, humming even, and it faces a team that had its heart ripped out by Drew Brees and Co.

Sunday’s game should prove if the Raiders are worthy of moving up the AFC ladder. The win over Pittsburgh lost a little luster, considering how the Browns handed the Steelers a stunning 13-6 loss.

But no-matter, Raider Nation is looking for more signs of maturity from this young team. Winning back-to-back games for the first time this season would be that positive sign.

The Raiders are also gunning for their third home win of the season, which would equal the team’s win total (5) from last year, and give Oakland a chance to match its best home record in six years.

In 2003, an aging Raider team led by Gannon, Rice and Brown won four games at the Coliseum and no Raiders' team has done better since.