Programming note: For comprehensive Raiders coverage from Alameda, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6 p.m., 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
ALAMEDA – The Raiders played the New England Patriots tough in Week 3. That game came down to the wire and, despite a solid effort on one side of the ball, the Raiders fell just short after an ill-timed turnover sealed their fate.
That’s exactly what happened Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Offense excelled over defense this time, but the outcome was arrived in similar fashion.
The Raiders left New England with a confidence boost, poised to turn a corner and win the season’s first game against the Miami Dolphins. We all know that’s not what happened.
The Raiders laid an egg in London, a result that ultimately got Dennis Allen fired.
Interim head coach Tony Sparano doesn’t need a reminder of what happened then, and this week’s theme will focus on avoiding a similar lull against the Arizona Cardinals.
“We know exactly where we are,” Sparano said in a Monday press conference. “We know the last time that we played a good football game that was a one-score game. It was against New England and we didn’t respond very well the next week when we came out against Miami. Our guys are well aware of that right now. I made that perfectly clear to them. From our end, we have to correct mistakes. We have to demand better play.”
Sparano said his Raiders were alert and focused in Monday meetings, where corrections are made before transferring focus to a 4-1 Cardinals team.
“We’re going to put this game behind us and get ready to play Arizona, but that was a good divisional football game,” Sparano said. “It’s a game in your division that you would expect to be a tough fought battle, and it was. Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong end of it.
“If those guys give me that kind of effort going forward here, this thing is going to turn.”
That effort will be tested after a tough loss and, the faster the tide is stemmed, the greater chance that effort remains. The Raiders have responded well to Sparano and have taken some confidence in their ability to play better. They also have the Dolphins disaster in the memory bank, and that should keep the Raiders on the right path.
“The last time we had a close game we came back the next week and didn’t play anywhere close to what we’re capable of playing,” defensive end Justin Tuck said after playing the Chargers. “This loss going to hurt for tonight and probably tomorrow a little bit, but we have to turn our attention to the Arizona Cardinals because we have a pretty solid football team coming into our house. We have to figure out a way to win these close games like this.”