Yes, the Oakland Raiders set a record for sucktitude this year, becoming the first team in NFL history to amass at least eleven losses in six consecutive seasons.
But rather than focus on the ugly, let's turn our attention to some positives, because there actually were some.
- For the first time since 2002 (their Super Bowl year), Oakland closed a season with a victory- two, in fact.
- The Raiders, who won their home finale two weeks ago against Houston, had not accomplished that feat since shutting out the Chiefs 24-0 in 2002.
- And yesterday's road triumph was the first time since 1999 (also against Kansas City) that the Silver & Black won its last away game of the season.
- After suffering a humiliating defeat in New Orleans to kick off the Tom Cable "era", the Raiders went a respectable 4-7 down the stretch, including 3-3 in their last six games.
- Five of the seven losses were against teams heading for the playoffs, and one that just missed (the 11-5 Patriots), while two of their wins came against clubs that were eliminated on Sunday.
- One of those teams was the hated Denver Broncos, who Oakland crushed 31-10 on November 23.
- The other team, of course, was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were at home fighting for their post-season lives, playing a team with only its pride at stake.
And perhaps there is a symbolic flavor to Sunday. It was Jon Gruden and his Bucs, after all, that started the Raiders on their downward spiral some six years ago in Super Bowl XXXVII. Could this be the direction-changing victory that we've all been hoping and praying for? Even if it's not the case- the 2009 schedule promises to be tough as always- at least Raider fans can hold its head high, with the knowledge that their team is on a two-game winning streak.
And they can find extra comfort (joy?) today that their team is not the Denver Broncos.