OAKLAND, Calif. — Nearly a decade removed from the “Tuck Rule Game” and having shed his New England uniform for the Silver and Black of the Oakland Raiders, Richard Seymour still isn’t ready to change his view on one of the most famous — and disputed — plays in NFL history.
While Raiders backers are still insistent that Tom Brady fumbled after being hit by Charles Woodson in the closing minutes of that snowy playoff game in January 2002, Seymour takes a more diplomatic approach leading up to his first meeting against his old team since being traded to Oakland in 2009.
“It could have went either way,” he said. “It is what it is. I don’t make those calls.”
The fumble was overturned on instant replay and the Patriots went on to win their first of three Super Bowls with Brady and Seymour leading the way.
Seymour also didn’t make the call that sent him to the Raiders a week before the start of the 2009 season. After being a stalwart for eight seasons in New England, Seymour was a bit shocked by the deal and took his time coming to Oakland.
But once he arrived, he fully embraced everything about his new team and has been a key part of the turnaround that has made Oakland relevant again for one of the few times in the past decade.
“They’ve embraced me with open arms. I think you always want to be where you’re welcome and you’re wanted,” Seymour said. “I have a good supporting cast and everyone is understanding what we’re trying to do here. Two games doesn’t win us anything in this league. We’ve got a big challenge this week and we’re looking forward to it.”
While there is plenty of history surrounding Sunday’s meeting between the Patriots (2-1) and Raiders (2-1), that all will take a back seat once the game begins.
Then it will be all about the Patriots trying to put last week’s collapse in Buffalo behind them, while the Raiders look to build on their satisfying win over the New York Jets in their home opener last week.
A week after Oakland blew a 21-3 halftime lead in Buffalo, the Patriots squandered an early 21-0 advantage as Brady threw four interceptions in a 34-31 loss that has made for a rough week in New England.
“You better hate losing in the NFL because if you don’t you’re going to lose a lot,” Brady said. “Fortunately there’s not too many losses that we’ve had here. Every time you lose it’s a rough few days until you get back to practice and start preparing for the next opponent.”
The Raiders were able to put their loss to the Bills behind them quickly. They ran for 234 yards, led by a career-high 171 by Darren McFadden, to beat up the Jets last week and gain some respect around the league.
After going eight straight seasons without a winning record, the Raiders appear to have turned things around under new coach Hue Jackson. But they know that win against the Jets will mean little if they can’t back it up this week.
“We try not to notice it because we still got a lot to improve on as a team,” quarterback Jason Campbell said. “We feel like we got a long way to go. We know the Patriots are coming into town and we know how quickly things can change. You win one, you’re the greatest thing in the world. You lose one, same old Raiders.”
These Raiders are much different than the version Brady last played against six years ago. That led to a week of intense studying for Brady, who knew more than enough about one member of the Oakland defense.
Brady and Seymour were teammates for eight seasons in New England when they won Super Bowls and that famous game in the snow against the Raiders.The two are still friends and have lots of admiration for each other that will be put aside for the game on Sunday.
“I was hoping that day would never come when he was here because I know what kind of player he was for us,” Brady said. “I saw him this offseason. He promised me that if he got to close to me, he wouldn’t take me down too hard. I’ll see if he lives up to that. He’s a great friend and a hell of a player. He looks like the Richard that I’ve always seen. He gets after the quarterback, he plays the run, he’s a great leader on the defense.”
For Brady, the trip to the Bay Area is extra special, having grown up across San Francisco Bay in San Mateo. He has only gotten the chance to play out here once in his career, losing to the Raiders 26-20 in 2002 in one of seven games he has started that the Patriots failed to score an offensive touchdown.
Brady missed games in San Francisco and Oakland in 2008 after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the season opener. He said his parents will be happy not to have to make a long trip to see him play, although he said they may be in “disguise” at the game to avoid being harassed.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “I always enjoy being home. The last time we played in Oakland it wasn’t a very pleasant flight home. Hopefully we can redeem ourselves this time around.”
NFL NOTEBOOK: The NFL reminded teams of the rule prohibiting defensive players from mimicking the offense’s signal-calling cadence after Dallas accused the Washington Redskins of causing the Cowboys to bungle several snaps.
As part of a memo sent to clubs this week, the league reiterated that it was unsportsmanlike conduct for defenders to use “acts or words” that were “designed to disconcert an offensive team at the snap.” New Dallas center Phil Costa misfired on four snaps in Monday night’s win, and afterward the Cowboys accused Washington of mimicking quarterback Tony Romo’s cadence, which the Redskins denied. “Due to the fact that the umpire is positioned in the offensive backfield for most scrimmage plays, no official is within close proximity of the line of scrimmage,” the memo said. “Therefore it is more difficult to determine if a defensive player is imitating the quarterback’s cadence and/or snap count. If it is determined by video review or other means available to the league office that defensive players are engaging in such practices, such players, and their position coaches, coordinators, and head coaches, will be subject to disciplinary action.”