The Oakland Raiders are set to square off against the Houston Texans in what has become an annual inter-divisional matchup. It would be premature to call them rivals in the traditional sense, but they are building up quite a history in a short period of time.
The Houston Texans first came into being as an expansion team to balance with reborn Cleveland Browns who had entered the league in 1999. This ended a three year span where the league was operating with an odd number of teams, which created issues for the scheduling. This led to the great realignment which sent the Seattle Seahawks from the AFC to the NFC and changed the league from six divisions to eight divisions and the current scheduling formula.
Against this tumult, the birth pangs of this franchise were unnoticed by the Raider Nation. They were transfixed by the NFL MVP Rich Gannon lighting up scoreboards and leading the Raiders to their first Super Bowl since the 1983-4 season.
The teams first met in 2004. The Raiders had been humbled from their earlier success with a double digit losing season. New coach Norv Turner was charged with breathing life back into the franchise. In the game before the Raiders traveled to Reliant Stadium Rich Gannon had his career ending injury, and it would be Kerry Collins’s first start in the Silver and Black. The hopes were high after Raiders had their revenge win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Raiders had a winning record, and were looking to take advantage of the recent expansion team. After coming out of halftime tied, Kerry Collins imploded. Collins threw three interceptions in the second half and the Texans, on the strength of 6 catches for 115 yards for Andre Johnson from David Carr led the Texans to 30-17 win.
The two teams next met during the disastrous 2006 season. This would begin the streak of facing off every season that continues unabated until 2010. The Texans were led by their first year coach Gary Kubiak who was a disciple of the Mike Shanahan style of offense. The Raiders were in the midst of an epic franchise wide meltdown. Not only were they on their way to their fourth consecutive double digit loss season in a row, there were internal issues up and down the franchise. Head coach Art Shell had publicly fueded with wide receiver Jerry Porter. Randy Moss quit on the team. by the end of this season Shell would be making cryptic references to someone who was not a Raider, but a “Fox in the henhouse.” The 2-9 Raiders lost an ugly game to the 3-8 Texans 23-14 in an ugly game. The Raiders had a 14-7 lead at the half. However, they could not hold it and the Texans would take that game, and the Raiders would end up without another win and the first overall pick in the draft in JaMarcus Russell.
In 2007 the Raiders were on their third new coach in as many years. Lane Kiffin had everybody “in” as he was the next choice to lead the Raiders to greatness. This game was pretty indicative of the Raiders during their struggles. Heisman trophy winner, but bust n the NFL Ron Dayne ran for 122 yards as Sage Rosenfels led the Texans to a 24-17 victory. Justin Fargas had 104 yards rushing, but the Raiders could not overcome Josh McCown’s three interceptions.
The Raiders faced off against the Texans in week 15 of the 2008 season. They were 3-11 and seemed content to play out the string-again. The controversial midseason coaching change from Kiffin to Tom Cable had not lifted the malaise that had long since settled over Oakland like mist off the bay. They had just been pasted by New England Patriots 49-26. The Texans on the other hand, were looking to have their first winning season-ever. They also needed the win to stay in the playoff race. The Texans had won the previous three meetings. Johnnie Lee Higgins scored on a punt return and a 29 yard touchdown pass. Rookie receiver Chaz Schilens also had his first touchdown catch as JaMarcus Russell would have what was probably his best game as a pro. The Raiders ended up following that game up with a surprise win. The Texans won the following week, but their hope of a winning record and playoff birth had been destroyed by the Silver and Black.
The Raiders two game winning streak to close the 2008 season left the 2009 incarnation with high exections. Tom Cable had the iterim dropped from his title and Russell was supposed to have turned the corner. However, the Raiders offense could not find its way into gear. They faced off against the Texans for the fourth straight year in week four. The Raiders managed a total of 165 yards of total offense as part of a four game streak where the Raiders couldn’t reach 200 total yards. The Raiders lost 29-6. In one sequence Justin Fargas was trapped in his own end zone for a safety and Jacoby Jones returned the ensuing kick 95 yards for a touchdown.
Now the Raiders are set to set to square off against the Houston Texans for the fifth straight year. On this streak the Texans are 3-1 against the Raiders and over all are 4-1. It will be a test as the Texans started out strong and the Raiders have been hit and miss.