- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have already ended one ignominious streak this season. By beating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 27, Oakland won a game immediately after a bye week for the first time since 2002. Coach Dennis Allen said he made a point of addressing that streak with the team before the Steelers came to town.
Now? With Oakland playing at the New York Giants on Sunday, the Raiders have lost 11 straight games in the Eastern time zone -- by a combined score of 353-178.
Has Allen talked about this streak with his players?
“Not really,” he said. “I don’t like to build in a lot of excuses. Our job as professional football players, as coaches, [is] to go play wherever they tell us, whenever they tell us and just prepare just like it was any other game. Really the only difference is we’ll travel on Friday as opposed to Saturday so we can get acclimated to the time change and get acclimated to the situation. I think it’s tough to travel that far the day before a game.
“I want our guys to be able to be fresh and be ready to go. So I don’t really spend a lot of time talking about … the Eastern time zone, but we have talked about [the] need to go on the road and play well. That’s something that we’ve put a lot of focus on.”
The last time the Raiders played three time zones away they nearly upset the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener – Oakland was on the Indianapolis 8-yard line with less than two minutes to play – before losing 21-17.
But the last time the Raiders won a game in the Eastern time zone was Dec. 6, 2009, when Bruce Gradkowski led an epic comeback at Pittsburgh. Oakland’s troubles on the East Coast stretch back to the last time the Raiders had a winning season. Since losing at Miami on Dec. 15, 2002, Oakland is 5-28 in the Eastern time zone.
Plus, the last time the Raiders played at the Giants, they were blown out 44-7 on Oct. 11, 2009. Only six Raiders players remain from that year’s team – running back Darren McFadden, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, long-snapper Jon Condo, offensive tackle Khalif Barnes, strong safety Tyvon Branch and fullback Marcel Reece, who was on the practice squad at the time – while McFadden missed that first game with a knee injury and figures to miss this meeting as well with a right hamstring strain, as does Branch, with an ankle issue.
Allen said traveling a day early will be the only attempted adjustment the Raiders will make for their body clocks with a game kicking off at 10 a.m. PT.
“We’re up pretty early in the morning anyway,” he said. “We start our meetings at 7:20 in the morning and that’s part of the reason we do that is so that guys are used to getting up early and used to getting their body going and getting ready to go out and play a game.
“[It’s] something that we have to deal with, but we don’t need to let that be any type of distraction.”
Ending a certain 11-game losing streak would end that distraction.
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