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Davis determined to bring Raiders back to greatness

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Owner Al Davis is determined to turn around Oakland's misfortune in a hurry insisting the greatness of the Raiders will return.

It could be a while the way things are going.

So, why were players so upbeat around Raider Nation this week?

They finally won.

Oakland snapped a five-game losing streak last Sunday with a 27-24 win at lowly Carolina, sending the Raiders (3-6) into their bye week with a confidence boost.

You don't want to suck on a loss for two weeks,'' tight end Roland Williams said.That sort of stinks.''

The infighting that defined Oakland's miserable 4-12 season a year ago the worst collapse by a team that reached the Super Bowl the previous season hasn't surfaced yet with Norv Turner in charge. This team still believes it can win down the stretch, and players called a meeting last week to talk about it.

Still, these days the buzz of ``Just win, baby'' seems a little silly.

Turner spent the off week focusing practices on red-zone efficiency and better execution on third down, not to mention getting some key players back from injuries.

What we need to do is get healthy,'' receiver Jerry Porter said.We've still got seven weeks left of football, and anything can happen. We're not eliminated. It all starts with the next game. We won the last one. We have a week off to charge our batteries, then we get a chance to redeem ourselves.''

The Raiders host San Diego on Nov. 21, and the Chargers whipped Oakland 42-14 last month. It's still plenty fresh.

Turner hopes he'll have everybody playing at 100 percent when the Raiders take on the Chargers again.

Four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson is among those ailing. He's nursing a hip pointer: ``It's getting better. I'll be back,'' he said.

When this season began, there were high expectations Turner and his experienced coaching staff would help the Raiders rebound right away.

Certainly, I don't think any of us thought this would be our record,'' Turner said.You build on the positive things. We still have a lot of things to correct, a lot of things to get better at, but it's easier to approach those things when you're coming off a win.

``I think our guys have a good feel, and we've gotten a little bit of our confidence back.''

The Raiders are 7-18 since losing the Super Bowl, and they've been dreadful on the road. Before Sunday's win, Oakland had dropped 13 straight away from the Coliseum dating to a loss at Miami in December 2002.

This team has seemed desperate for a leader.

Since training camp, the Raiders have lost three key veterans who had such fundamental roles in recent seasons. Tim Brown, the team's longest-tenured member until he was released during camp, is now with Tampa Bay because he wouldn't accept going to the bottom of the receiving corps' depth chart. Jerry Rice was traded to the Seattle Seahawks last month after weeks of complaints about playing time, and Rich Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP, is out for the year with a broken vertebra in his neck after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks on Sept. 26.

Williams returned to the Raiders this season after spending most of last year rehabbing several injuries. He was a positive locker room presence during the successful 2002 run, and wanted to help this franchise improve this year.

Davis also brought in big names such as Warren Sapp, Ted Washington and Ron Stone to add to the effort. Davis won't say the Raiders are rebuilding.

The Oakland Raiders are a very proud organization, and obviously not having the success we want is difficult,'' Williams said.It's difficult for our team and difficult for us as men.''

Turner has been forced to use a patchwork offensive line because of injuries, too.

But this team has also underachieved, failing in every facet of the game some Sundays.

Kerry Collins, the good-natured backup before Gannon got hurt, has struggled as a starter, making poor decisions and throwing 12 interceptions. Oakland's unforgiving fans booed him the past two home games each time he reached the huddle.

Collins snapped an 0-for-10 streak as a starter on Sunday against the Panthers. It was also the first time in the Raiders' last six games that the defense didn't allow 30 or more points.

Whenever you can get a win before the bye week you always feel good about yourself, good about the win, and you gain a little bit of momentum,'' safety Ray Buchanan said.Everybody's enthused about the next time you play, so you can get a lot more done. Each week has been really upbeat even though we've been losing.''

Yet Davis' patience has to be wearing thin.

I think we're going to be all right, but we've got to do some things to make us all right,'' he said when Rice was traded.We've got to do it.''

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