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Raiders and Jets renew a peculiar rivalry  
 

By Jerry McDonald
Special to NFL.com

(Nov. 4, 2003) -- The New York Jets have had little choice in recent years other than to regard Oakland's Network Associates Coliseum as their home away from home.

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A look back at the infamous 'Heidi Bowl', which pitted the New York Jets against the Oakland Raiders in 1968.
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The Oakland Raiders think of the Meadowlands as the place where the Giants play football.

Football's most peculiar rivals meet for the seventh time since 1999 on Sunday when the Raiders host the Jets. The 2-6 record of each team removes some of the luster, but none of the familiarity.

The quirks of the NFL regular-season schedule, plus Oakland's superior record entering the postseason, have seen to it that the Raiders have hosted all seven games.

A series which includes such historical moments as the "Heidi Game" in 1968 and Ralph Baker's recovery of an errant Daryle Lamonica lateral to seal a Jets berth in the Super Bowl in 1969 has exclusively become a West Coast event.

"It's incredible," Jets coach Herman Edwards said before last year's playoff game, won by the Raiders 30-10. "When we pull up to that place, the people know all the names. The guy in the coffee place, he'll have my table ready when I go over there. They know we are coming."

During training camp, Raiders coach Bill Callahan was talking about the importance of divisional games against "Kansas City, Denver, San Diego, and of course, the New York Jets."

In just his second season as a starting QB, Chad Pennington is already familiar with the Raiders. 
In just his second season as a starting QB, Chad Pennington is already familiar with the Raiders.  
Only four Raiders remain from the 1997 team that lost to the Jets 23-22 at the Meadowlands -- wide receiver Tim Brown, long-snapper Adam Treu, center Barret Robbins and tackle Lincoln Kennedy.

The Jets, meanwhile, have played in Oakland so often quarterback Chad Pennington said his team has even learned to like the infamous Black Hole and its rabid fans.

"I think our team feeds off that crowd and we love that hostile atmosphere," Pennington said. "If you don't, you're beaten before you even step out on the field."

The Jets, however, have been beaten by their hosts in five of the last six meetings, including one-sided playoff losses in each of the last two seasons.

In some cases, the familiarity has bred contempt.

A synopsis of the Jets-Raiders rivalry:

Jan. 12, 2003, Raiders 30, Jets 10: Angered by the hype surrounding Pennington after New York blew out Indianapolis 41-0 in its playoff opener, Oakland harassed the Jets quarterback into a 21 of 47, 183-yard passing performance with two interceptions.

Pennington was 7 of 26 in the second half.

"I said all week we'd put a hat on him and see if he's the next Joe Montana," Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski said. "I think we saw he's not."

Dec. 2, 2002, Raiders 26, Jets 20: New York led 10-6 in the third quarter when Tim Brown caught a 6-yard dump-off from Rich Gannon to become the third player in NFL history to catch 1,000 passes.

With Oakland facing third-and-10 at the Jets 26, the game was halted for a brief ceremony, including a golf cart driving on the field with some of Brown's family.

During the break, Oakland wide receiver Jerry Porter informed Jets safety Damien Robinson, "We're fixing to score on the next play."

Sure enough, when play resumed, Gannon hit Jerry Rice for a 26-yard scoring pass for a 13-10 lead, and the Raiders never trailed again.

"He had everyone out there -- his aunties, his cousins," Jets defensive tackle Josh Evans said of the Brown celebration. "Play the game."

Jan. 12, 2002, Raiders 38, Jets 24: Forced into the wild-card round the week before by the Jets, Rice caught nine passes for 183 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown, Gannon was 23 of 29 for 294 yards and Charlie Garner rushed for 158 yards as the Raiders win and advance.

"For some reason, when it comes to the playoffs, I know it's time for me to play my best football," Rice said.

Jan. 6, 2002, Jets 24, Raiders 22: Placekicker John Hall hit a 53-yard field goal as time expired in the season finale, giving the Jets their first win in Oakland since the franchise was called the Titans in 1962.

"Football is about extinguishing ghosts," Edwards said. "We killed another ghost today, but there are a lot of ghosts left."

It was Oakland's third consecutive loss in the final seconds as the Raiders lost the home field advantage, first-round bye and had to face the Jets again six days later.

"We'll either crumble or we won't," coach Jon Gruden said.

Oakland won the rematch in the playoffs, but was forced to snowy New England in the second round, where they lost 16-13 in overtime and were introduced to the "Tuck Rule."

Dec. 10, 2000, Raiders 31, Jets 7: The Raiders improved to 11-3 and clinched their first playoff berth since returning to Oakland in 1995.

Cornerback Eric Allen got things started with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown, igniting a raucous Sunday night crowd. Jets running back Curtis Martin, who gained 203 yards the previous week against Indianapolis, carried 17 times and gained 11 yards.

The Jets, who entered the game 9-4, began a three-game losing streak that left them out of the playoffs. Coach Al Groh resigned after the season to become coach at the University of Virginia.

Oct. 24, 1999, Raiders 24, Jets 23: Trailing 20-3, Gannon and Brown led a comeback which ended in a 5-yard touchdown pass to James Jett with 26 seconds remaining.

Brown's 11 receptions for a career-high 190 yards included a 45-yard TD catch in the third quarter, which cut New York's lead to 20-10.

The starting quarterback that day for the Jets was Rick Mirer, who will start for the Raiders on Sunday because of a shoulder injury to Gannon and a knee injury to Marques Tuiasosopo.

With both teams 2-6, there is a possibility they could meet again next year in the regular season. The NFL schedule calls for corresponding teams in the AFC West to host teams in the AFC East, meaning first place plays first place, second plays second, etc.

Which could mean the Jets would visit Oakland -- again.

Fear not, Jets fans, the Raiders are finally scheduled to play in the Meadowlands in 2005.



 
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