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The Morning After: Raiders vs NY Jets, Week 8

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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

You know what is a really good feeling? The biggest complaint about your favorite team is that they didn't finish out their win as good as you would have liked. The Raiders are in that boat these past two weeks, and that is quite a refreshing feeling for Raider Nation to have right now.

The Raiders have dominated two teams in a row, they just didn't finish the 4th quarters in the same fashion as they had played the first 3 quarters. They are still a work in progress, but the team is looking like a true piece of art being worked on. This is the best football the Raiders have played since the Gruden years, hopefully it will continue that way moving forward.

The play of Derek Carr has been simply extraordinary. We are watching him progress into a bonafide super star QB in front of our very eyes. The New York Jets have one of the best defenses in football, but he made them look like an average squad out there. Make no mistake, this was not an average defense they played, they absolutely are one of the most talented defenses in the league.

It is still hard to imagine that this really is where the Raiders are after all these years of torment and despair. They have their QB of the future and he is already becoming the franchise QB that we all desperately pleaded for since the days of Rich Gannon. Just think, pretty soon people won't even be calling him by his brother David's name anymore!

Carr was 23 for 36 for 333 yards and 4 (4!) touchdowns against the Jets. That brings his season numbers to 150 of 229 for 1,793 yards and 15 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions, and it isn't even halfway through the season yet. There isn't hardly a Raiders fan left that isn't excited to have Derek Carr leading the team, and after this many years of losing having the fanbase this united and excited is a huge accomplishment.

It wasn't just the QB that made the numbers look so good against New York though, the receivers were dominant with their yards after the catch. Taiwan Jones, Andre Holmes, and Michael Crabtree all had long touchdowns that featured multiple broken tackles. It does have to come with an asterick because the Jets did seem to forget how to wrap up, but still the aggressiveness and quickness of the Raiders playmakers was outstanding.

The best part of this game though was the play of the Raiders offensive line. Derek Carr had all day to throw, and Latavius Murray continuously gouged the Jets defense for long runs. None of that would have been possible without the elite blocking they got across the entire line.

Derek Carr wasn't sacked once and he was barely even hit in this game. The Jets defensive line features Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams, and Muhammad Wilkerson. They are all behometh defensive linemen whose brute strength is rarely ever contained. Yet here they were, completely dominated by the Raiders offensive line.

You also have to give credit to the defense, especially in the 4th quarter when the offense sputtered. Some of those hits they were laying looked right out of the 70's, straight up vicious. When the Jets got things moving for a comeback attempt, the Raiders defense squashed it in it's place.

Talk about punishing hits on Geno Smith too, they slammed him repeatedly in the 2nd half. They weren't just hard hits, they were legal hits. The one hit in particular was from newly acquired David Amerson who lit Smith up on the sideline after a long run by the QB. Geno got up and threw a touchdown shortly afterward, but that hit paid dividends down the stretch.

It is very exciting to watch Amerson play for somebody that was dropped and picked up midseason. He has been getting more comfortable and we are starting to see him getting close to a number of interceptions. This is yet another player that Reggie McKenzie and company have found off the trash heap that looks like they could be a key contributor for years to come.

David Amerson is a ball hawk, to a detriment at times, and he is going to be getting his hands on some footballs before the season is done. Plus, he has Charles Woodson beside him now who continues to amaze with yet another interception to his resume, bringing him to 5th on the all time list and 2nd since the merger for most interceptions.

Now the Raiders have just as big of a game coming up next, and this one won't be at home either. They have to travel to the dreaded East Coast to play the Pittsburgh Steelers who are still in the heart of the playoff race too. If the Raiders can win next week for their first 3 game winning streak in the Carr era it will go a long way in the tiebreaker processes for the playoff race.

Oakland is sitting at 4-3 right now and they are playing some of the best football in the league. If they can follow with another victory they won't just be a wildhorse playoff team, they will become one of the favorites to get a wild card spot.

There is a lot of football left but a win next week on the East Coast against the rival Steelers would go a long way for the Raiders this season. It is hard to allow the optimism and confidence to creep back in after all these years of losing but this 2015 Raiders team is doing everything they can to enforce on the world that this isn't "the same old Raiders".

I will finish by saying this, Jack Del Rio, Ken Norton Jr, and Bill Musgrave are doing an incredible job with this Raiders team. They have put together a team that is not just capable of winning, they are doing it impressively. The team that Reggie McKenzie and his scouting staff has put together is a good one, and they now have a coaching staff that can actually get the most of them.

The most exciting part of how this coaching staff has operated so far is their even keel approach even after several big victories now. They are stressing the work, putting in the preparation and effort and that is all paying off on the field. It feels strange to be this excited for the Raiders after Week 8 of the football season, but it is no fluke anymore.

The team from the GM, to the coaching staff, and onto the players have all put in the work needed for this team to become something special. There is still a lot of work to do to become the powerhouse this team looks capable of being, but there is every reason to believe that the dark days of Raiders football are finally over with.

Can you believe it? I can't. Let's hope it's not another in the long line of cruel jokes the football gods have put the Raider Nation through, because this sure seems like a real return to excellence.