Chiefs look to win seventh straight in Oakland
November 14, 2009
OAKLAND – Matt Cassel admittedly will have some mixed emotions when he walks onto the field at the Oakland Coliseum for the second time in his career.
Just a year ago when Cassel was with New England, he played one of his best games in Oakland by throwing for four touchdowns only days after the death of his father, Greg.
Cassel recalled the 49-26 victory this week, calling it one of the most emotional games he has ever played.
“I’m sure there’ll be a little walk down memory lane,” Cassel said. “Obviously it wasn’t the highlights of my young life so far, but at the same time I thought my team and also myself honored him in a special way last year.”
Cassel returns to the Coliseum on Sunday, leading the Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) against the Raiders (2-6).
For the Chiefs, Oakland has been the site of many pleasant memories in recent years. They have won six straight games there and are looking for the longest winning streak ever against the Raiders at their home stadium.
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In fact, half of Kansas City’s wins in its last 34 games have come at the Coliseum with victories in 2007 and ’08. The Chiefs are 2-30 in that span when not playing in Oakland, including three home losses to the Raiders.
“The last three or four years it’s been like that,” Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “They win here and we win out there. But each game is its own game. We can’t put it in the basket that we’re going to win. We’ve got to go out there and do it.”
Most of the Chiefs’ wins in Oakland have been close, with Kansas City winning five of the six by seven points or fewer.
The Chiefs won last year by turning a botched fake field goal by Oakland into a 67-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
An interception in the closing minute the previous year sealed a two-point win. The Raiders threw an incomplete pass in the end zone in the closing minutes of a six-point loss in 2005, and Tim Brown was tackled at the 1-yard line on the final play of a seven-point loss in 2003.
“We obviously can’t think about things like that,” Oakland tight end Zach Miller said. “I remember last year’s game at home with the fake field goal thing and all that. Obviously we just have to play good enough to win. We did that in the first game. That’s the same recipe we have to have for this one.”
As much as the Raiders feel they let games slip out of their hands in recent years at home against Kansas City, the Chiefs feel the same way about the first meeting between the teams this season.
Kansas City took a 10-6 lead with 2:38 to go on a touchdown pass from Cassel to Dwayne Bowe in Week 2. Oakland had less than 100 yards of offense before JaMarcus Russell led a touchdown drive that gave the Raiders a win in a game they were outgained 409-166.
“We played well statistically. We did a lot of good things, but we didn’t win the game,” center Rudy Niswanger said. “That’s what it boils down to. It is something for us, a matter of pride, to go out there and play well. But more than that, don’t make progress, don’t do well, but win the game. That’s something that’s definitely on our minds.”
This meeting between the longtime AFC West rivals will be missing a staple without running back Larry Johnson in a Chiefs uniform. For years, Oakland’s focus against Kansas City has been to stop Johnson and tight end Tony Gonzalez.
But with Gonzalez having been traded to Atlanta in the offseason and Johnson released Monday, it’s a new KC offense. Johnson was let go in the wake of his latest controversy – posting a gay slur on his Twitter account, insulting followers and questioning the competence of head coach Todd Haley.
In 10 games against the Raiders, Johnson had scored 12 touchdowns and averaged 93.8 yards rushing. Kolby Smith, who returned from knee surgery last week, and Jamaal Charles will share the load in Johnson’s absence.
“It’s going to be a little bit different,” linebacker Kirk Morrison said. “We know what Larry brings to their football team, what he did. Now you’ve got a couple of young running backs, who I know. We played Kolby Smith a couple of years ago and he rushed for over 100 yards, so we definitely know those guys are capable. We have to make sure we limit those runs and the big plays that they have.”
The Raiders hope a different look to the Kansas City offense will help lead to a different result on the field. Coach Tom Cable is hoping to use a win coming out of the bye as a launching pad to a successful second half of the season.
“We’re 2-6 and we can’t change that,” Cable said. “But what we have is an opportunity in front of us to go out and have a great second half. And we need to as a football team.”