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Black Hole Finale: Jaguars seek "sweet" victory

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back D.J. Hayden (25) poses for a picture after a game against the Miami Dolphins, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Logan Bowles via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – D.J. Hayden didn't soften his words, or his feelings.

The Jaguars' nickel cornerback has multiple motivations for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders – some historical, others quite personal – but they center on one thing:

Beating his former team.


"Wouldn't it be nice? Sweet," Hayden said Wednesday afternoon as the Jaguars (4-9) prepared to play the Oakland Raiders (6-7) at RingCentral Coliseum Sunday at 4:05 p.m.

Hayden said he would like to "just go in there and whoop ass."

"But we have to go out there and do it," said Hayden, the No. 12 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Raiders who played four seasons for the franchise before signing with Detroit as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. "We can't talk about it. We've gotta be about it.

"I'm excited for this week. It's exciting. I feel like we're ready to go."

Sunday's game won't just be exciting for Hayden; it also will have a historical feel.

It will be the last game for the Raiders in Oakland and therefore their last game at their stadium, which has undergone numerous name changes, but which originally was Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiders will move to Las Vegas this offseason.

"It's definitely a historical game, if you think about it," Jaguars rookie edge defender Josh Allen said. "I'm excited to be a part of it. Hopefully we win and we make that a good history lesson for myself."

The stadium has been the Raiders home twice – from 1966 through 1981 and again from 1995 until the present. It has been the site of numerous memorable NFL games and is the home to one of the NFL's most riotous fan bases.

"I know what it can be like," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said. "It can be a bunch of different ways, but it'll be a crazy atmosphere. I can't define crazy for you, but it'll be a crazy atmosphere."

The Coliseum's Black Hole section boasts the self-described "Football's Most Notorious" fans, and Marrone said it's difficult to predict Sunday's atmosphere.

"It was always a very difficult place to play, just from a fan standpoint and all the other stuff," Marrone said. "And then you have to do a good job, the locker room's not the best locker room, and you want to make sure – and we kind of went over that [in meetings this week] to try to describe to our players the type of atmosphere that it's going to be.

"The type of fan base that they have, the following that they have, the locker room … I think those things, that's what I've learned before is that you want to get them a little [information] so they can become familiar with what's going on there."

Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II said he expected the atmosphere to be "fun."

"I'll be curious to see what it's like," he said. "I've never played out there. Obviously, it's like a historic venue. They've got great fans over there. It should be a lot of fun."

While Oakland has a reputation for being harsh on opposing fans – particularly those in opposing apparel – Minshew said he expects his father to attend the game with friends. And yes, he said, they will wear Jaguars garb.

"I'm sure he will," he said. "You've seen him, right? He'll be all right."

The Raiders have lost three consecutive games and realistically need to win their final three games to have a chance at the postseason. Hayden wasn't shy Wednesday about wanting an opportunity to spoil that.

"I do," he said. "I can't speak for everyone else. I know that I do. It's going to be real sweet. I'm excited to lock in on technique and make sure the team comes with it."

And yes, he said, this absolutely is a game he has anticipated since the schedule was released last offseason.

"They didn't bring me back," Hayden said. "Gotta make them pay for it. … I've had this game marked – for sure, for sure. I can't wait until Sunday when we go out to the Black Hole for their last little hoorah. I'm ready."

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