The “Black Hole” has meant a whole lot of nothing to the Jets.
The Raiders crowd is notorious for its rough demeanor and being the most hostile place to play in the NFL. But the Jets have won their past four meetings in Oakland, including a 38-0 win two years ago at OverStock.com Stadium.
The Jets are among a handful of teams in the league who aren’t automatic underdogs on the road. Other than being a good team in general, they can’t figure out why they have so much road success.
“I don’t think it is any one thing, not like it is the flight or something. If that was the case, then I think we’d take a flight even for a home game and circle around the state or something then comeback,” nose tackle Sione Pouha said. “So it isn’t like it is that or the hotel or anything like that. Maybe it’s the peanuts on the flight. That could be it — I don’t know.”
A big part of that confidence factor is found at the top with head coach Rex Ryan. Since Ryan arrived, the Jets have become one of the league’s most dominant teams on the road.
“I do think we like being on the road and knowing that no one out there likes us, that they are out there rooting against us and going to fight against us,” left guard Matt Slauson told Metro. “Going out there, silencing that crowd, hearing crickets chirping after we go up, that’s a great feeling. I like that. It’s like ‘okay, that’s what we want.’”
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In two seasons under Ryan, the Jets are 11-5 on the road, not including a 4-2 playoff road record. The Jets aren’t intimidated when they play in hostile environments.
“I think it’s just a mindset where you get into a road mentality. You shut your eyes, close everything out, get into that mindset,” guard Matt Slauson said. “Definitely being around hostile environments brings you together.”
The Jets depart Saturday morning for Oakland and much like they do before home games, they will stay at a hotel the night before the game. They will have dinner, team meetings and breakfast the morning before the game — the same routine whether they are home or away.
There is a set routine in place that helps the Jets feel the same way, whether they’re going to play in front a packed stadium of green and white fans or the rabid supporters of the silver and black. For rookie Muhammad Wilkerson, who will be playing in his first away game in the NFL, the routine gives comfort.
“We do the same thing, have the same times for meetings no matter home or away. It is the same routine,” Wilkerson said. “That means we can block everything out, no matter what is going on or where we are, and just focus on the game and not on other things.”
The difficulty on Sunday will be playing in Oakland in front of the league’s most hostile home crowd. Not only are Raiders fans loud, but they are colorfully decorated and create a teeming, frothy environment. The “Black Hole” is notorious for its rowdy fans, who reportedly have been known for throwing batteries and other items at opposing team players.
“My parents were at the Oakland game two years ago and they thought a couple people were going to die in the fights in the crowd,” Slauson said. “My parents loved it though, they were just cracking up. They were pretty cool with it all and the crowd. That can be a difficult place to play.”
The Raiders faithful are primed for a big game, especially with it being the home opener. With the high-profile Jets coming to town, it could be especially volatile.
“Raider Nation, it’s a fun atmosphere. Especially when it’s a sold out crowd, you know they’re going to be loud. They always dress up in the costumes and everything, in their silver and black, and they wear it proudly. The home opener, just like every team’s home opener, is always a packed house,” quarterback Jason Campbell said. “There’s always a bunch of people there. We expect it to be a big atmosphere — especially with a good team like the Jets coming in.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for breaking news and updates out of practice all week long.