OAKLAND, CALIF. After the last-minute 20-17 loss to the Raiders three weeks ago, Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez was so tapped out he headed straight home and went to bed. He had to sleep off both the exhaustion and the disappointment.
Gonzalez calls that loss at home the toughest of the season.
KC tight end Tony Gonzalez on the Chiefs' 20-17 loss to the Raiders three weeks ago
"Definitely for me personally, and I think I can speak for the team too," he said. "I mean, as far as I'm concerned, that's the worst loss we took all year, because we felt like we had that game."
The Chiefs had a 17-10 lead going into the fourth quarter, when Oakland mounted the comeback, culminating with a 43-yard field goal by rookie kicker Sebastian Janikowski with 30 seconds left to play.
"I had to go home and go to sleep. I had a lot of people in town, too. I just had to go home and sleep it off for a little bit," Gonzalez said. "That's the NFL, though. I've figured that out so far since I've been in the league. You've got to take some hard losses sometimes, but you've got to get ready for the next week."
The Chiefs (5-3) will seek revenge today against the Raiders (7-1) in Oakland not only for the loss Oct. 15, but for the heartbreaking season-ending defeat last January that knocked the Chiefs out of the playoffs.
Until those consecutive losses, the Chiefs had dominated the Raiders, going 17-3 against Oakland in the '90s and tying the NFL's best mark against one club during the decade.
Kansas City has not dropped three straight against the Raiders since losing five in a row from 1982-84.
Gonzalez, who has three straight 100-yard receiving games, said the 41-38 overtime loss to the Raiders on Jan. 2 still stings. Especially the reaction of Oakland coach Jon Gruden.
"Gruden was screaming, jumping all over the field, yelling 'Have a Happy New Year Chiefs!' All that. That stuff sticks in my mind," he said. "It definitely gives you a little bit more incentive."
The rivalry has heated up, not only because of wild games and sometimes overzealous fans, but because the teams have so many connections.
Kansas City coach Gunther Cunningham was an assistant for the Raiders from 1991-94, and left on unfriendly terms with owner Al Davis.
Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon spent four seasons with the Chiefs until joining the Raiders last year. And receiver Andre Rison was cut by the Chiefs during training camp this season and signed by the Raiders a week later.
"If you had to pick one game, I guess, it would be this one," Gonzalez said. "That rivalry goes back way before I even got here. So it's definitely a game you want to do well in."
The Raiders are certainly aware of what Gonzalez does. He is the NFL's first tight end with three straight 100-yard games since New England's Ben Coates in 1994; no one has gotten four in a row. He has four 100-yard games this season.
The three-time Pro Bowler leads NFL tight ends with 572 yards and four touchdowns. He is tied for first with 41 catches.
Elvis Grbac, ranked third in AFC passing, has two or more touchdown passes in six straight games.
The Chiefs could be without center Tim Grunhard (ankle), who has started a team-high 120 consecutive games.