Sunday the Raiders broke out of their slump and snapped a 5-game losing streak. Just six days since they were in control of their own destiny for the number one overall pick in the draft, they moved out of that spot in favor of putting a win on the board.
Some fans are understandably torn where they stand on this. If you could fast forward to April, it would be nice to have the number one overall pick and thus select from any prospect out there. But in the meantime, there are games to be played and aside from just not watching, it’s tough to imagine any fan actually rooting for their team to lose to get that pick. It’s a bit of a dilemma.
That dilemma is why I posted a poll this morning as to whether Raiders fans would rather see a promising, hard fought loss against a good team or an ugly loss to a bad team.
This isn’t about that dilemma, though. This is about those players in that locker room.
These guys head out to that field thinking about one thing – winning. Winning on every down, every series, and every game. They didn’t get here without a competitive drive to be the best. You have to be an emotional person to put as much into the game as these guys do. That’s a double edge sword, though. Because it means losing takes its toll.
“It’s been a tough year. It’s been a tough year for a lot of reasons,” said Gruden Monday. “But it was a great locker room yesterday. These guys played hard. Really proud of the effort, the enthusiasm, the togetherness of our team. I know we’re not where we want to be, but the attitude and the effort and the camaraderie is a big part of establishing a program. And for that I’m really proud.”
There have been times late in games during this 5-game losing streak, where it appears as if there was a letdown from the players. When you are down by multiple scores with no hope of making a game of it and still a quarter or more to play, it’s understandable if there was a feeling of throwing your hands up in disgust. You have tried everything, then you try too hard, and it backfires, so that voice in your head says ‘why bother.’
After a 1-8 start, with 5 games lost by 14 points or more, the only answer is to break through and actually pull out a win. By any means necessary. Just tell me all this effort isn’t for nothing. Just…win…
“Winning is a great motivator, it’s a great cure, and it also builds momentum,” Gruden added.
Momentum is an interesting thing. It’s almost mythical. Sometimes it feels like it doesn’t exist. Look back at the Raiders other win this season; the come-from-behind overtime win over the Browns. Then look at the next game in which the Raiders were blown out by the Chargers.
Even if the win doesn’t beget more wins, these players needed that feeling again. The euphoria of the game-winning drive and field goal. To not be the league’s only 1-win team. To have their hardwork and planning pay off.
Next week the Raiders head to Baltimore to face the 5-5 Ravens.