"That was one heck of an effort. I saw a lot of examples of guys really emptying their bucket. A phrase that says really giving everything they had. Straining, not flinching in tough circumstances, finding a way. The head coach and the quarterback are the only two guys in the organization that are tied directly to wins and losses. And to see our young quarterback take our football team down there at the end, that was special. That was special. Really proud of the men in that room. We've worked hard. This is the first of many moments like that. It's gonna be a lot of fun. A very good football team that we went against. That was a tough, hard-fought win. I'm pretty sure there's plenty of things that we'll pick apart and talk about that weren't how they needed to be going forward. But for today they were enough. And for today we'll take that huge win that we needed so badly and go enjoy it tonight."
Beyond the eternal hope that exists among fans, most of the football world expected the Raiders to lose this game. Most of that feeling was based on the team's opener against the Bengals in which they were unable to compete in any phase of the game. But Del Rio insists there wasn't a thing this team did today that surprised him.
"Our thought coming into this was 'Hey, let's come in and relax and play good football. We know, we paid the price, and we prepared. We're ready to do this thing together. Let's just relax and go play, and have fun'," Del Rio continued. "I think for our football team, that was important. We clearly wanted it real bad. We worked real hard. And obviously the beginning last week wasn't what we were looking for. That was a tough one to take, but I think we owned up to some things that went wrong and just forged ahead. And here we are with a big comeback win at home."
The offense came alive today with Derek Carr throwing for 351 yards and three touchdowns and both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree going over 100 yards. Carr was testing the Ravens down the field just as the Del Rio had said they hoped to do after not completing a single pass last week that traveled more than 10 yards in the air.
"There are a lot of things that we want to do offensively," said Del Rio. "Some of those things we were able to do today at a better rate. We've got people that can get down the field, we've got a quarterback that's very accurate down the field, We're going to run the gall well. That's a really physical front, a physical defense that we went against today, and our offense was terrific for most of the day. I would just say that today was a little close to what we're looking for with offensive production."
That confidence was important. Especially after Derek Carr threw an interception which allowed the Ravens to add a field goal and take a 33-30 lead with just over two minutes left in the game. Then Carr and the Raiders offense took the field with the game on the line and drove them right down the field for the game-winning touchdown. It was a result Carr says he saw from the beginning of the drive.
"I just looked in the huddle," said Carr. " It was just a great look on everyone's face. It was just a confident 'man, we're just at practice. We did this. We practiced against this. We practiced against these looks. It was just a confident look in everyone in that huddle and I just said hey man, I better not screw it up. These guys are ready to go. I just tried to get the playmakers the ball and they did a great job."
His top receiver on the day echoed the feeling Carr said he got from his huddle at that moment.
"For that final drive, everybody just believed we would go down and score. Every time we practice the two-minute [drill] in practice, we always put ourselves in a good situation to go down and get some points. So we were definitely comfortable."
Two key plays on that final drive were passes to running back, Latavius Murray, including the first pass which went 12 yards to start the drive with a first down, and a 7-yard catch on third and three. Murray saw the maturation in his quarterback happening right before his eyes.
"I'm sure he learned from this game, as he probably learned each drive as the game went on." said Murray. "But yeah, he's growing. He's young, I'm youg; there's a lot of young guys on the squad. We're just getting better and going to continue to get better so we can go out there and put performances like that out there."
The defense gave up a lot of yards and allowed the Ravens to come back in this game several times. That all seems trivial though when the game ends on an interception as it did today with Neiko Thorpe picking off Joe Flacco to seal the victory.
Even with two-straight games giving up 33 points, the defense is still confident in their abilities.
"We should have got both [games]," said Khalil Mack. "But the fact that we finished it out and go one, that speaks a lot about this team, especially when you're going up against t great team like we went up against. They did a lot of things early on, but we kept fighting, kept fighting and stayed together as team. That's what it's all about."
Some back pats are warranted for this defense, mainly because of how they fought today. It was a sweltering 95 degrees on the field and they had a lot of long drives. In the end, though, when it mattered most, they came up with a key stop to hold the Ravens to a field goal.
The key now is to guard against overconfidence. Last season the Raiders suffered an historic 52-0 loss against the Rams after they got their first win of the season. Jack Del Rio joked that the key to avoiding such a letdown again "We're just not going to travel to St Louis."
Where they will be traveling to is Cleveland where the Browns are coming off a nice win of their own over the Titans. In these moments, it's players like Justin Tuck with his veteran experience to put things in perspective.
"It's one win. Don't act surprised. This is something that we've worked out butts off all offseason to do and once we start playing well and start having success, don't act surprised by it. Just continue to do what we've done. And we've got a lot of work to do. It aint like we've found the milky river or whatever you want to call it, we've still got a lot of work to do. That starts coming back in here this week and getting our bodies back ready to go."'
Putting the game behind them was the message after their bad loss to the Bengals last week. But the same goes for a win.
"In terms of turning the corner and going on to next, it's so important," Del Rio emphasized. "We've got to go on to the next now. We're going to enjoy this one, but we've got to go on to next. When we visit on Tuesday, you're going to hear me talking about we have to go on to next. It's the next opportunity."