It feels like a new day in Raidersland, and Rolando McClain was the perfect player to christen the mood on Monday.

A day after one of the Raiders' strongest, loudest performances in years, McClain ambled into the locker room and chatted with the media -- all while carrying his infant son in a portable car seat.

Just win + baby.

"Don't think he likes the media, either," McClain said as his son fussed a bit.

McClain said this with a chuckle, a sly reference to the middle linebacker's own usual public reticence.

Hey, everything's cheerier when the Raiders are 2-1 and coming off a 34-24 home crunching of the New York Jets.

Next up at the Coliseum: The New England Patriots on Sunday, and if the Raiders are ever going to carry the momentum and powerful buzz from one week to another, this should be it.

"I think they feel what we feel," McClain said of the Coliseum crowd. "We feel like we're turning this Raider program around, and I think they feel the same thing."

Pointedly, there was no giddiness displayed around Raiders HQ on Monday -- at least none within my sight.

They aren't quite used to dealing with raised expectations and general praise from all quarters. Of course, the Raiders haven't deserved any of that lately.

So the relatively sober mood was important and notable.


Advertisement

It helps that the prospect of facing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a way of focusing anybody's concentration, while raising some shivers.

"Huge game -- one of the best teams in the league, and they've been a premier team in the league for a while," McClain said.

"Just another way to measure where we are right now. Just go out and compete against these guys.

"We've still got a long ways to go, but we're going to keep pushing, keep working."

And it definitely helps that McClain and other team leaders are following the example of coach Hue Jackson, who was more subdued Monday than normal.

Jackson said he was tired from studying video on the Patriots, but I suspect there was also a tactical purpose to his low-key manner.

"Can't celebrate," Jackson said. "That one's over with. On to the next one. There's another team from the AFC East that comes to town that's a very good football team."

Jackson, as always, expressed optimism about the record but made sure to repeat that nothing is guaranteed from here.

"It's still so early in this process," Jackson said, "but I think our players are starting to understand what it takes to become a really, really good football team."

Since I asked Jackson the same question after a loss last week, I figured it would only be fair to ask him what kind of feedback he has gotten from Al Davis lately.

"His whole passion is for this team to be the best it can be," Jackson said. "And at the end of the day, as I told you, this job is about winning and losing.

"And so I would think he's very excited."

Has Al expressed that to you, Hue?

"Well, me and him ... we don't talk about expressing our feelings," Jackson said. "We really talk about what's best for the team."

What's best for the Raiders? To see Darren McFadden suddenly turn into one of the most explosive players in the league. To watch Jason Campbell play efficient, winning quarterback.

To unveil rookie Denarius Moore as a rising playmaker. To nod at the stalwart play of the once-suspect offensive line.

To acknowledge that the Raiders defense, while giving up too many yards, has made enough plays at the end of the two victories.

"We know what we have here," rookie offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski said. "It's just a matter of trying to get everyone else to see that.

"We've got a lot of good things going on here."

To fit Jackson's themes, the biggest part of Sunday's victory was showing that the Raiders could bounce back after blowing the big lead in Buffalo two Sundays ago.

That clarion call still resonated Monday.

"It was still in the back of our minds -- what happened in Buffalo," McClain said. "And we won't forget it, we didn't forget it. We won't forget it for a while. It was still fresh in our mind.

"It's your job to report on what we did. And we wanted to quiet the critics, saying we can't finish in the second half. We just tried to play a good second half."

There are 13 more games to play, with a lot more chances to play wonderfully ... or to mess it up.

It starts with New England and Brady on Sunday. That's why Monday wasn't the time for Raiders celebrations. It was a time for weariness, wariness, pride and not so much noise.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5442.

Sunday's game

New England (2-1) at Raiders (2-1), 1:15 p.m. CBS