DENVER - Defensive end Bobby Hamilton has two Super Bowl rings from his days with the New England Patriots, one for each hand. But with those same hands, Hamilton can count the victories in two seasons since coming to the Oakland Raiders.
“It’s a sad moment right now,” Hamilton said. “I know I’m tired of losing. I ain’t won but nine games in two years here. It’s hard, and I’m not happy, but I’m going to do all I can to keep battling and try to help my team win and prepare for next year.” Though they didn’t need more evidence, Saturday’s 22-3 loss to the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High showed just how far the Raiders have fallen since they appeared in the Super Bowl three years ago. Oakland is 4-11, and the gap between that once-proud franchise and the Broncos seems to be widening. “It just didn’t seem like we were all there,” cornerback Renaldo Hill said. “No matter what they did, we couldn’t respond back, and that’s definitely a bad feeling.” Questions surround the Raiders. Will Norv Turner be retained as coach? Is Kerry Collins the quarterback to lead Oakland back into the playoffs? Is it time to reconstruct the roster after a second consecutive season in the AFC West basement? The answers won’t come until after this season, but the Raiders understand changes are likely. “It is an impatient league — ‘Not For Long,’” cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. “It’s not like back in the day when you have a team for five or so years, the same players. You worry about it a little bit, but you control what you can control. You can’t control (who will be with the team) next year, but we just have to continue to jell with the guys that do come back, coaches and players.” Despite the record and a losing streak that reached five games Saturday, Turner said his team hasn’t quit. “This is an awfully physical game and we’ve all seen teams that when they get in the situation our team has been in that won’t lay it on the line physically,” Turner said. “Our guys haven’t backed off. In the fourth quarter they’re hitting, tackling, pounding it in there. “It means a lot to me to see them continue to compete that way. We have one more chance. We have a chance to go win a game next weekend, and that’s what our focus will be on.” Oakland’s motivation in the season finale next week will be potentially wrecking the playoff hopes of the New York Giants. But even that won’t rescue the sour taste this season took on almost from the start, when the Raiders lost their first three games. “You get sick of answering the question: ‘What happened? What’s wrong? Why can’t you guys win? Why aren’t you putting up points? Why aren’t you stopping people?’” safety Stuart Schweigert said. “Week after week, when you hear that stuff it starts to really physically wear you down. That’s how it’s been the last . . . I don’t know, since we won a game last. That’s expected, but it does start to wear on you.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0258 or firstname.lastname@example.org