A dose of perspective can spare a lot of Oakland Raiders fans pain, insecurity and drug abuse. For example, the home debut/dud for the 2014 squad may seem like an all-time tragedy until you look back a few years. Ranked from best to worst from a Raider Nation viewpoint are the last 10 home season openers:
1) 2011 vs. New York Jets, 34-24 (W)
Facing a daunting Gang Green with back-to-back AFC Championship appearances, the Raiders beat down the Jets and established themselves as serious playoff contenders for the only year since the drought began. Darren McFadden diced Rex Ryan’s swarming defense for 171 rush yards and two scores and Jason Campbell protected the ball to outlast a career-day from Mark Sanchez (369 yards passing).
2) 2005 vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 17-23 (L)
A loss is a loss. But at the time, the Raider Nation still pirated the seas with a cutthroat swagger. In were new toys Randy Moss and LaMont Jordan paired with fireworks guru Norv Turner and Kerry Collins a year wiser in his system. The Raiders lost a close contest, and the fan base remained very confident in the team’s playoff chances less than two years removed from Super Bowl XXXVII. If only they could sense the impending doom…
3) 2010 vs. St. Louis Rams, 16-14 (W)
At half time, head coach Tom Cable benched checkdown artist Campbell in favor of feisty Bruce Gradkowski, and the Silver and Black overcame three fumbles and 12 penalties to beat their former LA neighbors in wild west fashion. Riding the legs of McFadden (145 rushing yards), the win showcased the steady improvement of the roster under the Cable regime while foreshadowing a wacky 8-8 year.
4) 2013 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 19-9 (W)
Following a near-upset in Indianapolis, another strong Terrelle Pryor air/ground performance gave the Raider Nation (false) hope the Ohio State star could become the next true franchise quarterback. This day in history, McFadden also churned his last 100+ yard performance, fueling fools’ faith in his future too.
5) 2009 vs. San Diego Chargers, 20-24 (L)
JaMarcus Russell, despite his best attempts at sabotage (12 of 30 throwing), backed a strong Raiders defensive effort with a 57-yard touchdown bomb to Louis Murphy to take the lead with 2:41 in the fourth. The Chargers severed Oakland’s spine with a quick 89-yard drive and score in response, and Russell sealed the game (and his last home opener, on Monday night ironically) with an interception.
6) 2012 vs. San Diego Chargers, 14-22 (L)
The return of Greg Knapp as offensive coordinator was a doozy as Carson Palmer and company struggled to find a rhythm on Monday night. McFadden was held to 32 yards rushing on 15 attempts, while Oakland’s lone touchdown came in garbage time with less than a minute left. The Raiders contained the Chargers’ running game but allowed Philip Rivers to complete 72 percent of his passes.
7) 2014 vs. Houston Texans, 14-30 (L)
Just your usual home opener…Ryan Fitzpatrick mastery, 188 rushing yards allowed, four giveaways, a 60 percent opponent third down conversion rate…nothing to blink at.
8) 2007 vs. Detroit Lions, 21-36 (L)
Confidence in this game was already low as Russell was holding out for a megadeal and fans clamored for Daunte Culpepper. Journeyman Josh McCown completed 75 percent of his throws for 313 yards, but his numbers were largely a result of Oakland abandoning the run after falling behind 17-0. Sebastian Janikowski missed three field goals in the first half.
9) 2008 vs. Denver Broncos, 14-41 (L)
Russell and head coach Lane Kiffin’s first NFL opener ended appropriately as a blowout, by the hooves of the Broncos on Monday night no less, and the Raiders didn’t score until down 27-0 in the final quarter. Russell fumbled twice, and the defense curled up, spoiling a solid rushing effort by the Silver and Black. Insult added to injury when Michael Pittman, who bulldozed Oakland in the Super Bowl, scored two rushing touchdowns.
10) 2006 vs. San Diego Chargers, 0-27 (L)
May we never forget the last Art Shell era. Armed with an intricate offensive playbook cultivated by the sharpest mind in the bed and breakfast industry, quarterbacks Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter combined for an impressive 8 of 19 pass attempts, 96 yards and nine(!) sacks. If not for an elite Oakland defense (a complete waste under Shell), the game played on September 11 would have been exponentially devastating.
Photo Credit: Kent Porter / Press Democrat