It's been an up and down season for the Raiders. Two weeks ago the Raiders were heading into the bye week having lost two-straight games. Those two-straight losses came after two-straight wins which had followed up a blowout loss in the season opener against the now still undefeated Bengals.
Even in their two wins early in the season, they weren't decisive. They were hard-fought games that came down to the wire and were sealed by interceptions. Their path this season had been much like the Chargers this season with both teams having won two games on the season. So, you can understand how picking the winner between these two teams was tough.
What few, if anyone, expected was the Raiders to jump out to a 37-6 lead in the third quarter while scoring on each of their first seven possessions. It was about as dominating a performance as a team can have over three quarters of a game, and one that Jack Del Rio was sure to point out following the game.
Now a day later, he maintains that is was a big step in the right direction, but wanted to temper the enthusiasm and expectations of this young squad.
"I would say it's a continuation of the growth, of our staff working hard, of our players working hard, and us collectively working hard toward being a good football team," Del Rio said of the win. "I think what we saw yesterday was an example of where all three phases played well and it came together for us. There's more there. It's not like we 'arrived' or anything, but it certainly was the best football we've played to date and so we're going to acknowledge where it was good and praise and then point out the things that weren't as good and talk about the growth opportunities that are there in front of us."
Saying it was the best game the 2015 team has had to date is not a stretch considering the season so far. The final margin of victory was not indicative of how the Raiders dominated this game. The Chargers only got rolling late because the Raiders let them.If you put the fourth quarter "ease up" aside and just go by what they did to the Chargers over the first three quarters alone, it could be their best performance in years.
Division wins are always the most important. And road games have been tough to come by for this team of late -- they were winless in nine games away from Oakland last season. The last time they beat a division foe on the road was a win in Kansas City almost three years ago to the day on October 28 of 2012.
And the 37 points they put up was the most they had scored since a 39-point performance in a win over the Broncos late in the 2010 season. Their 59-14 win over those same Broncos earlier that same season was the last time they had a lead as big as the 31-point lead they took into the fourth quarter against the Chargers Sunday. That 59-point day came almost exactly five years ago to the date on October 24, 2010 and put the Raiders at 3-4 on the season. They now sit at 3-3 which is their best start since their 4-2 start to the 2011 season.
Jack Del Rio is hoping this isn't the peak performance by this team. There are still ten games left in this season with many teams far more talented than the now 2-5 Chargers. The Raiders three wins have come against teams with a combined record of 5-15. Their next three opponents have a combined record of 12-7.