Raiders ready for prime time? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Raiders ready for prime time?

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - When the Oakland Raiders were last under the bright lights of prime-time football, they were on the losing end of a 34-7 score to the San Diego Chargers.

That was the latest flop on the big stage for the Raiders, just adding to their national reputation as the league's laughingstock. That sorry performance led Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to lament that games like that were the reason Oakland got so few opportunities to play in front of a national audience.

The Raiders get another opportunity Monday night when they open the season against their biggest nemesis in the final game of the NFL's kickoff weekend.

"We've got another chance," Asomugha said. "Redemption. I don't know how you would coin it, but I figured this is our second chance to make it right. Hopefully we can get it right this time. That's the first thing I thought when I saw it. I said it's national TV. We have to play."

The Raiders have been unable to do that recently. They are an NFL-worst 24-72 the past six seasons, the only team in league history to lose at least 11 games for six straight years. Things have been especially ugly on the national stage, which is particularly galling for a franchise once known for its Monday night success.

The Raiders once won 14 straight Monday night games back when the series was at the height of its popularity starting in the mid-1970s. But Oakland has lost its last 10 appearances in prime time, dating to the start of the 2005 season, being outscored 151-33 over the last six games.

"It's a chance for us to come out and put out who we are for the first time here in 2009 and show how far we've come," coach Tom Cable said. "Everybody gets to see who we are, and I think it's exciting that way. But I wouldn't say it's pressure. I think it's time."

Three of the prime-time losses during this skid have come against the Chargers, including a 27-0 debacle to open the 2006 season. Those games are a part of San Diego's own 11-game winning streak against the Raiders.

That 2006 opener was emblematic of that entire season, with Oakland's inept offense unable to function and San Diego rolling to a 14-2 regular season. The Chargers know that will have little impact Monday.

"Each game stands on its own," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We've had a good streak going, but each game is new. Each year is new. We're all 0-0 going into this season. Monday night, you really couldn't ask for a better setting starting in the division against Oakland."

Rivers made his first career start at quarterback for the Chargers in the 2006 opener and was asked to do little. He threw only 11 passes, completing eight for 108 yards and a touchdown.

The Chargers are counting much more on Rivers heading into this season. He has surpassed LaDainian Tomlinson as the engine that makes the offense move. Rivers was tied for the NFL lead with 34 touchdown passes last season, earning him a $93 million, six-year contract last month that includes $38 million in guaranteed money, and a mention as one of the league's elite passers.

"I really think he took off midway through the year two years ago and has played at an extremely high level," coach Norv Turner said. "I don't know if you start comparing people, but I certainly compare production, and he's had production."

Rivers will be going against a defense that got a late boost with the arrival of five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour on Saturday. Oakland acquired Seymour last Sunday from New England, but when he didn't immediately report to his new team there were questions all week about whether he would play Monday.

Seymour is being brought in to shore up a run defense that has been the worst in the NFL over the past six seasons and improve a pass rush that has been spotty of late.

The Chargers are familiar with Seymour, having been eliminated from the playoffs by the Patriots two of the past three seasons. So they know he can only make Oakland's defense better, even if he is limited to a handful of plays because of his late arrival.

"I think they're a team that's on the up," Tomlinson said. "They've added some players. Obviously Richard Seymour being there now, they're going to be that much tougher. They scare me. We're going to have to be ready to play."

Seymour compared arriving to a struggling franchise in Oakland that went 5-11 last season to his arrival in New England as a first-round pick in 2001 with a franchise that was also coming off a five-win season.

Those Patriots, of course, turned into Super Bowl champions.

"When I came to New England, New England was 5-11," Seymour said. "They didn't have the success that we built. And you have to build that. And it starts from the bottom. It starts from work. And that's what I'm here to do. I'm here to work with my teammates. That's how I got to the point where I am. It's coming in with a workmanlike mentality and with a mystique."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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