ALAMEDA (AP) – As much as the Oakland Raiders talked about putting a second-half collapse in Buffalo behind them, they used that loss as fuel for their statement win over the New York Jets.
Coach Hue Jackson brought a shovel to a team meeting the night before the Raiders’ 34-24 victory in their home opener Sunday to remind his players they need to dig deep to put together the kind of complete game needed to beat the two-time defending AFC runner-ups.
Linebacker Rolando McClain made a halftime speech, telling his teammates that the Jets probably expected a big second half after watching the Raiders allow five touchdowns in five drives the previous week to the Bills.
Instead it was the Raiders (2-1) who responded with one of their most significant victories in years.
“It was still in the back of our minds what happened in Buffalo,” McClain said Monday. “And we won’t forget it, we didn’t forget it. We won’t forget it for a while. It was still fresh in our mind. … We wanted to quiet the critics, saying we can’t finish in the second half. We just tried to play a good second half.”
The Raiders did just that, scoring a pair of touchdowns in a 42-second span starting late in the third quarter to delight a rare sellout crowd and beat the Jets.
Led by Darren McFadden’s 171 yards rushing, the Raiders gained 234 yards on the ground by overpowering one of the league’s stingiest defenses. The Raiders controlled the line of scrimmage defensively as well, holding the Jets to 100 yards rushing and coming up with four sacks of Mark Sanchez in the second half.
That led Sanchez to note after the game how different the Raiders are under Jackson than the team the Jets beat 38-0 in Oakland two years ago in a game that was so easy Sanchez could eat a hot dog on the sideline in the fourth quarter.
“That made me feel good, I’m glad he could see it, especially after what he did a couple of years ago, eating a hot dog,” Jackson said. “It is a new a group. It’s a group that one, expects to win. It’s a group that works to win. It’s a group that is becoming something and they’re working at it each and every day.”
Now the task will be to back that up with another win this week against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and a New England Patriots team still smarting from blowing their own big lead in Buffalo.
“It was a statement but you can’t get too full of yourself because Tom Brady is coming in next week and they lost to the Bills,” defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. “You know Belichick will have them ready to go.”
The statement from the Raiders began in the trenches, where the offensive line has turned from a weakness to a major strength. Oakland has allowed just two sacks all season — tied for the fewest in the NFL — with one coming when quarterback Jason Campbell tripped over McFadden’s foot.
The Raiders have been even better in the running game, where they lead the NFL with 185 yards per game, led by McFadden, who ran for two touchdowns against the Jets and leads the league in rushing.
“The strength of the team is their defense,” tight end Kevin Boss said. “To be able to rush for that many yards against a strong defensive front like that is definitely rewarding for us.”
Notes: Jackson said McFadden should be ready to go this week despite leaving the game against the Jets late in the fourth quarter when his hamstring tightened up. … Jackson said he would know more on the status of CB Chris Johnson (hamstring) and S Michael Huff (concussion) on Wednesday. … WR Jacoby Ford ran on Monday and is hoping to be able to play this week after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury. … The Raiders released CB Sterling Moore from the practice squad and signed S Ron Parker to take his place