It’s a long journey to reach the NFL playoffs and it’s been a long time since Oakland and Buffalo played beyond the regular season.
Through one game so far, though, the Raiders and Bills have gotten off on the right foot to end their respective droughts.
Oakland looks to go 2-0 for the first time in nine years Sunday when it visits Buffalo, which heads into its home opener off one of the most decisive victories in franchise history.
The Raiders made new head coach Hue Jackson a winner in his debut, 23-20 at Denver on Monday night. Jason Campbell(notes) finished with two touchdowns and Sebastian Janikowski(notes) kicked three field goals, including an NFL record-tying 63-yarder just before halftime.
Oakland is trying to start with back-to-back wins for the first time since its last postseason appearance in 2002, when it eventually lost to Tampa Bay - and former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden - in the Super Bowl. Jackson understands the importance of a 2-0 start for a team that went 37-91 under Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable after last being in the playoffs and knows success won’t come easy.
“It would mean a ton to this football team,” Jackson said Wednesday. “We know we have to travel, we know we’re going back east, we know we’re playing a team that is 1-0 also, and a team that played very well in Kansas City.”
Buffalo is coming off last Sunday’s stunning 41-7 rout of the defending AFC West champion Chiefs - the team’s sixth-most lopsided victory ever. The Bills defense, which ranked last against the run last season, held Kansas City to 108 yards on 18 carries while winning for just the second time in the last six season openers.
“We’re done patting everybody on the back,” said Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes), who matched a career high with four scoring passes. “Our guys are looking forward to the next game and continuing to get better every game.”
For the Bills go 2-0 for the first time since 2008, the offensive line will need to handle a Raiders rush defense that limited Denver to just 38 yards on the ground. Oakland has finished 29th or lower in run defense each of the last four years, allowing an average of 148.7 yards per game.
“Up front, this is maybe the biggest, most physical team that we’ll see,” Fitzpatrick said. “All those guys have great size, they have great motors, they’re going to be able to get some pressure on me.”
While Buffalo’s defensive line had no trouble stopping Kansas City’s running backs, the unit could have trouble against Oakland, which ran for 190 yards in the opener. After rushing for more than 1,100 yards last year, Darren McFadden(notes) carried the ball 22 times for 150 yards in his 2011 debut - the third-highest total of his career.
“This week is a big challenge for us,” Bills nose tackle Kyle Williams. “It’s another team that was high up on the rushing charts. Good running back, solid offensive line.”
He isn’t ready to have a championship parade just yet.
“You’ve got to be confident in yourself and know what you’re capable of as a team,” he said. “But by no means did we win the Super Bowl (Sunday). … It’s one win. That’s all it is.”
“It’s been a long time, but it’s good to have him out there in a limited capacity moving around and catching balls, but we’ll see where he is as we keep moving forward,” Hue Jackson said.
Boss, who caught 119 passes and 18 touchdowns in four seasons with the New York Giants and helped them win a Super Bowl as a rookie, signed a four-year deal with the Raiders in August after Oakland lost Zach Miller to Seattle in free agency.