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Moments like the Tuck Rule have kept the Patriots-Raiders rivalry alive in recent years.OAKLAND -- Setting the table for Sunday's Patriots-Raiders clash as two once-familiar foes prepare to reunite for an AFC showdown:
For the New England Patriots, seeing the Oakland Raiders is a bit like seeing an old flame. Charter members of the American Football League, the two teams routinely played twice per season before the merger. Ever since, they've maintained a shaky long-distance relationship thanks to Jack Tatum's hitting, Ray Hamilton's roughing and Tom Brady's tucking. Patriots coach Bill Belichick had his own late-'90s flirtations with the silver and black, while, more recently, the teams created some sparks with high-profile trades that sent Randy Moss and Richard Seymour to opposite coasts. Now, despite playing only five times since 1989, the two teams rekindle that rivalry Sunday at O.co Stadium in a battle of 2-1 squads.
ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss checks in with some areas of interest in Sunday's game, including how New England fares against an old friend:
The strength of the Raiders' defense is up front, starting with captain Richard Seymour. The Raiders rotate seven or eight linemen into the game, which Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light noted keeps them fresh. Seymour remains a top player and he will be a challenge for interior offensive linemen Dan Connolly (center), Brian Waters (right guard) and Logan Mankins (left guard). The Patriots have had some of their biggest struggles against defenses that can get to quarterback Tom Brady with the standard four rushers, and the Raiders have the personnel to do that. On the flip side, if the Patriots can protect Brady, there should be favorable matchups for the Patriots.