ALAMEDA (AP) — Back-to-back blowouts have put the Oakland Raiders in a very unusual position: preparing for a meaningful November game.
After outscoring Denver and Seattle 92-17 in the most lopsided two-game stretch for the franchise in 43 years, the Raiders are getting ready to play the Kansas City Chiefs in a matchup of the top two teams in the AFC West.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” offensive lineman Robert Gallery said Monday. “We haven’t experienced this a whole lot in the past six, seven years around here. This is what it’s supposed to be like. It’s supposed to be fun. We’re supposed to be in games like this. We got to keep doing what we’ve done the past couple weeks and we have a shot to do some good stuff this year.”
Gallery joined the Raiders in 2004 for the second year of a dismal run of seven seasons with at least 11 losses. But with the two convincing victories the past two weeks, Oakland (4-4) heads into November without a losing record for the first time since the 2002 Super Bowl season.
The past two weeks have been one of the best back-to-back performances ever for the team. The Raiders have gained at least 500 yards in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.
The defense has also been nearly as dominant with eight sacks against the Seahawks. Oakland held Seattle to 162 yards, including 47 on the ground, and has held consecutive opponents under 100 yards rushing for the first time in four years.
“It’s a big confidence boost,” running back Darren McFadden said. “That’s something we’ve been talking about doing, just going out there and putting games together back-to-back, and we’ve been able to do it. Now we want to just keep going week after week.”
Quarterback Jason Campbell, who was benched earlier in the season, has played well the past two weeks in place of the injured Bruce Gradkowski. Campbell has completed 27 of 47 passes for 514 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 123.9 passer rating.
That’s the kind of performance the Raiders were hoping to get when they acquired Campbell from Washington in a draft-day trade. Owner Al Davis was so excited about Campbell that he compared him to two-time Super Bowl winner Jim Plunkett in preseason.
But despite the strong play from Campbell, coach Tom Cable maintains that Gradkowski will once again start as soon as he is healthy. Gradkowski threw in warmups Sunday and told coaches it was the best he had felt since leaving the game against San Diego on Oct. 10 with a separated right shoulder.
“It’s clear cut,” Cable said. “There’s no issue there in my mind. What we’ve done is some nice things in the last two weeks. You got to take your hat off to Jason. It’s a nice job on his part, as well as the rest of the offensive players. But, we know who our quarterback is.”
The news is not all good for the Raiders. Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha left Sunday’s game with a sprained right ankle. Cable said the team is running tests to determine the severity of the sprain and would have a better idea about Asomugha’s status for this week on Wednesday.
Leading receiver Zach Miller played sparingly Sunday because of an injured right foot and was on crutches Monday as a precaution. He is expected to play this week. The Raiders also played Sunday without starting wide receiver Louis Murphy, who will likely miss one more game with a bruised contusion near his lung.
But the offense has rolled despite the absences with the Raiders getting at least 100 yards from scrimmage from four players Sunday: McFadden (135), receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (135), fullback Marcel Reece (122) and running back Michael Bush (106).
“We can be very explosive,” Heyward-Bey said. “We understand when guys are down, people got to step up to the plate and make plays for this team. I just look at this team, from this year compared to last year, we’re so much better, we’re so much more confident out there. When we get everybody back healthy, we should be pretty good.”
Notes: Cable would not rule out any interest in WR Randy Moss, who was let go by the Vikings on Monday. He said the team could have interest in any player who could help. Moss played two years in Oakland before being dealt to New England in 2007. … Raiders DT John Henderson, who has missed the past six games with a stress fracture in his right foot, said he hopes to return Nov. 21 at Pittsburgh after the bye week. … CB Chris Johnson has been cleared to return from a concussion.
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