Editor's note: Scott Bair is in London with the Raiders. Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com all week for comprehensive coverage of the Silver and Black.
LONDON – The Raiders normally go straight from a visitor’s locker room to the nearest tarmac and head home in the dead of night. After Sunday’s 16-9 loss to the New England Patriots, they gathered in a Gillette Stadium lounge to wait for a long flight headed in the opposite direction.
That was the first moment of a completely foreign week in a foreign land. The Raiders flew from Providence, R.I. to London’s Gatwick Airport in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium.
Ignore, for a moment, that this is another virtual must win after falling to 0-3 at New England.
Focus instead on an environment that the Raiders will attempt to normalize. It’ll be tough with a press core exponentially larger, one that contains a tabloid element.
There will be a drastic time zone adjustment early on as the team starts its practice week on Wednesday. Distraction should be plentiful with the hotel an hour-plus outside the city center.
The situation isn’t ideal for a team in desperate need of a win, but the Raiders will deal with it just the same.
“To be honest, it’ll be difficult to adjust our bodies to the time difference and all that,” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “That said, it will be exciting just the same. I’ve played in London before, and the fans there love the NFL product. It will be a fun, unique experience for guys who haven’t made this trip. There will be some new things, but I’ll be exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”
Having veterans who know the routine should help keep the team locked in at important periods. The team will certainly be motivated by improved play against the Patriots and driven to finally win a football game.
The Dolphins are a beatable opponent if the Raiders can stay focused in a completely new environment.
“We’re a driven group and I don’t think anything will steer us off course of progress,” right guard Austin Howard said. “We’ll make some tweaks and continue to get better. We’re professionals, and we’ll adjust to the environment and be ready to go come Sunday.”