Last week, I posed the question of whether the Raiders should be so quick to forget about their 52-0 loss in St Louis. After all, it was clinging to their first victory of the season the week before didn't serve them. So, why put the feeling of that loss behind you? Why not use it as fuel and put it to work for you?
From the looks of things, the Raiders did just that on Sunday. The team that showed up against the 49ers had a very different demeanor on the field than a week before. They even had a different attitude than they had in their win before that against the Chiefs.
Because they knew they could beat a good team and now they know if they get complacent, it will all come crashing down around them.
The Raiders are getting the day off today as a reward of sorts for their decisive victory. It is common for coaches to give their players the day off after a win, so don't think ‘here we go again'. It isn't the day off that is the issue. It's how they approach the week once they return.
"Being able to bounce back from the way that we felt last week was big for us," Charles Woodson said after the game. "To win this game, the Battle of the Bay, against your crosstown rivals, it was a big win for us. It was great for us to get back on this side of it. We feel good about it. But as coach [Sparano] said after the game, we felt one way last week, another way this week and it will be up to us to continue this feeling."
Continuing that feeling doesn't mean riding a high all the way through. It means enjoy the victory and then get back to work knowing that nothing is granted; that that feeling must be taken from another team that wants it just as bad as you do.
There seemed to a conflicting ideal Tony Sparano presented last week. First he said he wanted the players to remember the feeling of the loss and then not even a day later, he said he wanted them to have a short term memory. I asked him which of those ideals served the Raiders the best, leading to their performance Sunday.
"I think short-term memory served them the best," said Sparano. "This team has been that way the entire season. I wanted them not to forget the feeling they had there because this game goes in highs and lows. One week you can be on top of the mountain and the next week you can be at the bottom of that thing really fast. It's important that our team keeps learning here. Obviously, we learned a lesson. It's important also that you get rid of that feeling; it can linger, it can linger, it can linger. Our guys just don't let that happen."
The idea that one can remember a feeling while simultaneously forgetting it is a complex one. It's one that Sparano grasps and he appears to have been able to successfully convey to his team. Don't dwell on the highs or the lows. But rather know you can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and vice versa very quickly.
That concept breeds consistency. Getting their first win after 16-straight losses was a stratospheric high. Losing 52-0 was an abysmal low. Now they are on a high again. Not as high as the first win in a calendar year, but high none the less due to the importance of the rivalry to the fans and the decisive nature of it.
In a couple days, they begin to prepare to head to Kansas City to face a team looking for vengeance against the Raiders who got their first win of the season against them. They are also in need of staying in the playoff race. Getting swept by the Raiders is very much not an option for them.
For the Raiders, so what if you beat them already. So what if you just had another big win on the season. You've known prolonged failure and now in just three weeks time you have ridden the rollercoaster. You know what you're capable of and how far you can fall. The only thing left now is sustainability.