After the Las Vegas Raiders fell to 0-3, first-year coach Josh McDaniels talked to both the media and to his team about learning how to win.
Yes, the Raiders were coming off a 10-7 playoff season. But McDaniels’ point was, every year is a different experience and learning to win is something every squad must achieve. In their first three games, the Raiders just didn’t do enough to win. There were several issues, including not knowing how to finish games. All of the Raiders defeats have been close, but they didn’t finish. That was a major issue at home in Week 2 when the Raiders turned a 20-0 halftime lead into a 29-23 overtime defeat to the Arizona Cardinals.
However, Sunday when the Raiders registered their first win of the season in a 32-23 home win over the Denver Broncos, they improved in many areas, including learning how to finish. After the Bronco cut the score 25-23 late, the Raiders went down the field to score a game-sealing touchdown with a couple of minutes remaining in the game.
McDaniels pointed that moment out as a learning tool that helped the Raiders get into the winning column.
“We’ve been there before. In the Arizona game, we had a lead late in the game and you have a choice there offensively; you can go out there and try not to screw the game up and usually you give it back to them and then put all this pressure and stress on your defense,” McDaniels said. “Or you can maintain your aggressive nature and try to go out there and move the ball and score and win the game. I thought the guys had a great mentality on the sideline, they knew that that’s what we were going to attempt to do if they ever went down and scored. And after they scored, we went back out there, and I thought had the right mindset to go down there and put more points on the board and try to finish the game offensively the way it needs to be finished.”
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said McDaniels made a point of reminding the team on how to finish during the Denver game and it helped.
“Josh called us up and he reminded us, he said to the offense and defense in a team meeting, he told us, ‘You should want the burden to finish the game.’ Not hoping that someone else does their thing, or they fix the problem, whatever,” Carr said. “Just like, ‘Hey, whatever the game asked for, if it’s our turn, do our job.’ And so, the fact that he talked about it, he called us up beforehand to remind us, and then when we went out there, we were able to go get points, like that feels good. And I know it feels good for Josh because that’s what he’s preaching to us. I guarantee when we turn on [the film] you’re going to see 11 guys all doing their job and doing it the right way. That’s only going to help us going forward, if we can keep that mindset.”
While the win was relieving, the Raiders still need to continue to work on the little things, like finishing, as they work to get back into the playoff race.