Unbeaten Chiefs were eager for rematch with Raiders

Updated: October 20, 2003, 12:32 PM ET

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Tony Gonzalez is still annoyed about the beating the Oakland Raiders put on the Kansas City Chiefs late last season.

Oakland locked up the top seed for the AFC playoffs, as well as a much-needed bye, with a 24-0 victory over its division rival in a game played in a steady downpour. The Raiders shut out the Chiefs for the first time in 88 meetings between the former AFL foes. And the loss eliminated the Chiefs from making the postseason for the fifth straight year.

This time, when the teams met Monday night in the Coliseum, nothing was similar.

The Chiefs were 6-0 for the first time in team history and attempting to tie a franchise record with a seventh straight win. Only one team in NFL history has failed to make the playoffs after starting the season with six straight victories.

It was Dick Vermeil's first appearance on Monday night as a head coach since his Philadelphia Eagles played in Miami in 1981.

And Oakland was trying to save a season that had turned awful, with consecutive losses to Chicago and Cleveland and an 0-4 start on the road for the first time since 1962.

Yet just when things appear to be at the their worst for the Raiders, they've been known to fix everything and pull out a remarkable win. Kansas City knows about that.

"The Raiders are a sleeping tiger," said Gonzalez, the Chiefs' longtime tight end. "They're going to wake up soon."

These teams have a long and storied rivalry that dates back to the franchises' births in the AFL. They were the first two AFL representatives in the Super Bowl -- the Chiefs in the inaugural championship game, followed by the Raiders one year later.

Some players say the tension between the teams keeps growing.

"I think it's even more," Gonzalez said. "At least I feel it more with each year that goes by, especially with them going to the Super Bowl last year and beating the hell out of us in that rain game. We owe them.

"I know it's motivation for me. I was mad. They were cheap-shotting all over the place."

The Raiders have been embarrassed by their poor play in recent weeks. They believed they were due a breakout game.

"We need to win," four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson said. "It's now or never. ... We've been going bad for a few weeks."

Quarterback Rich Gannon half-jokingly accused some teammates of "sniffing glue" this week because they weren't accepting the fact the Raiders deserved to be 2-4. Some of the Raiders have handled the ongoing problems on the field better than others.

"I don't know if we trust each other enough right now," safety Rod Woodson said. "Last year we trusted each other."

In this rivalry, it even becomes personal.

Gonzalez wished fiery Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski was healthy so he could play against him. Romanowski hasn't played since Sept. 22 at Denver of a series of concussions and is considering retirement.

"He's a competitive guy and we bring out the best in each other," Gonzalez said. "I would love to go out there and try to kick his rear. I hope his career isn't over. We've had some battles. He's fun. He's competitive."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index