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The Monday morning reflection

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Cincinnati Bengals v Oakland Raiders Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but I could get use to this. Three straight wins and with Week 12 ahead, the Raiders are right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

From where this team was last year after the trades of Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper to training camp this season with the circus involving Antonio Brown, it hasn’t always been easy to stay loyal and trust the process. Moments like this are what makes our fandom all worth it.

In Week 11, the Raiders pulled off a third consecutive nail-biter. This time, it was a 17-10 victory over the winless Bengals. Despite taking another loss, the Bengals played inspired football and gave the Raiders everything they could handle.

The first thoughts that came to mind when thinking back on the game again were about how good this rookie class has been this year. It seems like every week there are multiple rookies making big plays in critical spots. Sunday was no different.

Josh Jacobs continued to make his case for rookie of the year with his fourth 100-yard game of the season. The Bengals made a concerted effort to slow down the run and it showed at times, but Jacobs still managed to go over the century mark (23 attempts 112 yards).

Hunter Renfrow continues to thrive as Derek Carr’s go-to receiver on third down, converting multiple times. On the day, Renfrow caught five balls for 66 yards. You can see Carr gaining more and more trust in his young security blanket as the weeks go on.

Foster Moreau, who has been the surprise of this rookie class in my opinion, caught his fourth touchdown of the season. Darren Waller gets many of the accolades at the tight end position, but Moreau has quietly been a consistent and reliable force at the position.

Trayvon Mullen, who was thrust into a starting role when Gareon Conley was traded, intercepted the first pass of his young career. An interception that was the nail in the coffin for the Bengals in the fourth quarter.

Of all the rookies who performed well on Sunday, it was Maxx Crosby who was the most impressive. The fourth-round pick terrorized quarterback Ryan Finley all afternoon, racking up 4 sacks. Crosby now has 6.5 on the season.

After the game in his post game press conference, head coach Jon Gruden spoke about his defense learning to close out games. That is exactly what we have seen from them the last three weeks. The Bengals, trailing 17-10, took over on their own 20-yard line on first and 10 needing a big play, but it was Crosby time, as the rookie delivered with his fourth sack of the game.

On the following play, Mullen intercepted Finley. The Raiders future looks very bright with this rookie class as the foundation of this team.

In addition to the rookies who made big contributions, Carr put together another really efficient game. Carr has become a bit of a game manager in his second year under Gruden, but it has been exactly what he has needed all these years.

With a strong offensive line and run game, Carr does not have to put the offense on his shoulders. As long as he is taking care of ball, not trying to do to much, and making some plays here and there, this offense can be successful.

Carr finished the game a red hot 25 of 29 passing for 292 yards with one throwing touchdown and another one on the ground. He did have one interception that was a result of going to the well one too many times. What Carr has done extremely well this season is spread the ball around. Without the benefit of a number one receiver, he throws to the open man and does not worry about force feeding anyone.

My final thoughts on the game were how well newcomers D.J. Swearinger and Dion Jordan fit in. Having only a handful of practices with the team, Swearinger played 60 percent of the snaps and led the defensive in tackles (7), while Jordan was used more as a situational rusher on the interior logging 16 snaps (25 percent) and was credited with a sack.

It was another good week to be a Raiders fan. Let’s hope this feeling continues another week.