The Raiders last played in London four years ago, and it’s a game they would just as soon forget. Quarterback Derek Carr suffered ankle and knee injuries early in the game, the Miami Dolphins scored 38 unanswered points in a lopsided victory, and head coach Dennis Allen was fired soon after the team returned home.
The loss that day sent the Raiders to their fourth straight loss of the season and set in motion a sequence of events that ultimately led to Jon Gruden being hired earlier this year. The Raiders aren’t in much better shape record-wise (1-4) as they board a plane today for the trip to London, but they at least have confidence in their head coach and the direction the team is headed.
Perhaps, then, it would be fitting for the Raiders to use their game in London on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks as another turning point in their franchise’s fortunes. If not now, then when also applies, given the Raiders are in the midst of the softest part of their schedule.
The Seahawks are 2-3 and playing without safety Earl Thomas and linebacker K.J. Wright, two of their best defenders. They also no longer are led by one of the league’s most-intimidating defenses, with most of their big stars having been traded, released, retired or allowed to leave via free agency.
If the Raiders can put together a complete game for the first time this season, then there’s every reason to believe that they can resurrect a season on the precipice.
The Raiders have a bye after Sunday’s game, then host the 1-4 Colts, play the 1-4 49ers, host the 3-2 Los Angeles Chargers and play the 1-4 Arizona Cardinals. At this point, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Raiders at 6-4 as they prepare for a game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 25.
But, that’s only if the Raiders can find a way to eliminate the head-scratching turnovers — yes, we’re looking at you Carr — reduce the number of big plays they allow on defense and play well in all three phases of the game from start to finish.
The Seahawks will have a say in how the game unfolds, of course, and they aren’t your ordinary 2-3 team. Their losses came to the Broncos by 3 points, to the Bears by 7 and the Rams by 2 in a game the Seahawks stood toe-to-toe against what many consider the best all-around team in the league.
Quarterback Russell Wilson is having another solid, if not spectacular, season, though he isn’t running very much. Wilson simply plays within the confines of the offense, makes smart decisions, keeps his team in favorable situations and makes plays at crucial times.
Wilson has been sacked 18 times but intercepted only three times. As for the sacks, it’s worth noting that he has played against the Rams, Bears and Cowboys, three of the top defenses, as well as a Broncos defense that is adept at pressuring the quarterback.
Beating a team that is led by a dynamic quarterback like Wilson would be the kind of boost that a sagging Raiders defense needs, along with Carr, Gruden and the rest of the team. It also would make the long flight home a heck of a lot more enjoyable and memorable than the one the team had four years ago.