RELIEF. Relief unlike anything I ever remember feeling after an Oakland Raiders win. The release of the worry and pent up emotions was nearly euphoric and something completely unique to me. The only game I can remember anything similar was the Raiders finally getting to the Super Bowl in 2002 after years of being so close, but even that was completely different than this.
When thinking about the relief and emotional release that us fans felt after this win against the Kansas City Chiefs it really puts into perspective what the Raiders players and members of the organization felt afterward. As much as we feel it, they are the ones in it. They are the ones physically taking the beating, emotionally devastated with each loss, and they are the ones that earned this victory.
It still seems crazy. Did that really just happen? Did the Raiders actually get the good end of the lollypop instead of the fuzzy end? Seriously, things actually fell into place for them and they didn't throw it all away at the end. The feeling of joy is still engulfing me this morning which is awesome, even if incredibly sad to be this excited about one win for a 1-10 team.
The defense in this game, WOW. How exciting to watch them play like they did. The energy they brought to the field in that first half was nostalgic of the old days of Raiders glory, and they came through when they absolutely needed to.
Are there even enough superlatives to describe Charles Woodson anymore? We are so lucky to be able to watch him throughout his career, he will be remembered forever as one of the absolute best to ever play this game. Even at 38 years old the guy is simply elite, playing every single play with all of his heart. He deserved this win more than anybody else on this team.
Khalil Mack and Sio Moore, what can you say about them? Well, first thing that comes to mind is dummies, but next is the future. That celebration though. My goodness, at least they still won. It is possibly the biggest story to come out of this game from the mainstream media, but since it came in a win we all get to just laugh at the hysterics of it.
Forgetting that ill thought out celebration after sacking Alex Smith on the final Chiefs drive to force a 4th and 13, concentrating on the play itself. How great was it to see those two young men in particular get to the QB in such an important time of the game? Words can not explain the joy, and that joy completely engulfed the two players too. They earned it, they played their hearts out yesterday.
Every player on the defense played their hearts out yesterday in fact. D.J. Hayden made some really great plays specifically too that make him worthy of singling out. If he can stay healthy he could turn out to be the special player that Reggie McKenzie believed him to be. Seeing the way he has been tackling has been the most exciting part, the extra muscle he put on this off-season is being put to good use.
How about Antonio Smith too. 24 games without a win (congrats to Matt Schaub for his streak ending too, even though he didn't play) dating back to last year with the Texans. Can you imagine that?
We just went watching the Raiders lose 16 games and it was one of the most terrible experiences ever as a Raiders fan, can you imagine adding 8 more games on top of that even? I think his quote after the game was my favorite out of any:
"The hex is gone, and now it's on."
As for the offense, Latavius Murray PLEASE get healthy right away. We need to see if this was a fluke or if he really is as good as those 4 carries looked. The 90 yard TD run is the one of course to key in on, what a thing of beauty!
Murray didn't even have much room to get through, but he showed actual vision and squirmed his way through. After that, he was just gone. Man is he fast! He outran everybody with such ease that there was never a shadow of a doubt that he would be gone. If he is for real then the Raiders have a running back of the future too and not just a QB of the future.
The QB of the future being Derek Carr and he came up big when it absolutely mattered most. I wrote an article yesterday saying that he had the chance to pump the brakes on his regression and that is exactly what he did. He didn't have to play lights out stats wise, but he needed to be a leader. He did that yesterday, and he will continue to do that moving forward.
That final drive was the stuff of legends even if it was helped by the Chiefs inexplicably not challenging one of his 4th and 1 QB sneaks that looked like it came up short and the Chiefs safety dropping an easy interception on a terrible throw. It doesn't even matter to me because he was so calm, so cool under pressure, and his TD throw to James Jones was awesome. The credit really goes to Jones for his great route running, but Carr did great in not tipping his hand to early and letting that great route play out.
Carr's stats in this game weren't even that good, but it wasn't the stats that made the game so impressive from him. It was his leadership and poise that was most impressive in this victory. He looked like a veteran leading the huddle, and it truly solidified in my mind that he is the QB that we hope he is.
I don't know many things more enjoyable as a Raiders fan than watching his celebrations after he scores either. I've said it before and I will say it again, its the same exact childlike love of the game as Brett Favre showed throughout his career. That type of joy and enthusiasm is contagious and it is a wonderful aspect to get to watch in a Raiders uniform. To watch him get this first win of his career was truly an honor to get to see.
Not to be forgotten in all of this is Marcel Reece, finally he was actually utilized! He is the biggest reason the Raiders final drive was successful. Marcel would not be denied and his energy too was contagious to his teammates and the fans alike. Congrats to him for never giving up and for being ready when his number was called yesterday. It took far too long for the coaches to rely on him but they won this game because they did.
Last but not least, Tony Sparano. He would need a miracle to earn the head coach title going forward, something akin to winning out. However, the respect and admiration that he has earned with this team is truly special. He is a person that has earned the love of the Raider Nation despite the record. His actions, his persona, his attitude all just scream RAIDER. It would really be wonderful if the next head coach keeps him on staff, but even if not I truly appreciate him as a coach and as a person. This team feels that way too.
There is just too much good from this game to mention it all. This win will be remembered forever, despite the season that it came in. In fact, maybe because of the season it came in. This team has never given up, and they earned this victory. They deserved this victory more than any other win that I can remember and it was by far the hardest one to get in my lifetime as a Raiders fan.
Now they need to remember this feeling and break the hex that has engulfed this team for too long. They have pieces to move forward with, everybody saw it yesterday. This team has a bright future ahead of them, even if this season will be one we all wished had gone better.
On to St. Louis next weekend, but enjoy this win as much as possible until then.