When star players noted all that was needed for the Las Vegas Raiders to get in the win column was execution — everyone doing their job — the words rang hollow for a lot of people. It was seen as a hackneyed sport speak — the words of the lost and desperate.
The reaction to when Silver & Black coaches said it was far worse. Some saw it as an inept coaching staff looking to merely scapegoat the roster. Turns out, it was the hard truth.
Doing their job is the winning formula in Las Vegas. The Raiders’ resurgent execution was on full display against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers Sunday. And for the third-straight time, the Raiders won — this time 27-20.
“I think the character was on full display today,” Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr said in the postgame press conference. “And watching our guys bounce back — I mean, we turned it over again, twice. Why, or the reason, it doesn’t matter; it’s what we did. We just make it hard on ourselves and then seeing everybody bounce back and keep believing, keep playing.
“Defense was playing great for us, keeping them off the scoreboard and all that. It’s good seeing both sides of the ball helping each other and playing that way, and the energy on the sideline was unbelievable.”
For the third game in a row, Josh McDaniels’ Raiders played complementary football and all three phases contributed to the win. When the offense faltered, defense and special teams picked up the slack. And when the defense got the offense the ball back, it struck with a vengeance in the form of Carr (250 yards, two touchdowns, on interceptions (pick six)), wide receiver Davante Adams (eight catches, 177 yards, two scores) and running back Josh Jacobs (144 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown).
“I mean, obviously, that’s speaks to their character,” McDaniels said echoing what his quarterback noted. “We’ve always just tried to be consistent with our approach; win, lose or draw. We’re not going to change that this week because we won today, or we won three in a row. I think if you treat them with respect and continue to try to help them improve as football players, I don’t know what else they could really ask of you.
“Give us a chance to improve and get better and try to provide them with a plan that gives them a chance to win. And that’s always worked for me wherever I’ve been, and I’ve seen a lot of great people utilize that. I think we have a great group. I mean, our captains are phenomenal. I’ve said that over and over again.”
The lambasting and downright mockery the Las Vegas Raiders received just four games ago — and rightfully so considering the bad football they played up to that point — makes this Silver & Black turnaround is almost surreal.
Let’s hit the quick slants as fast as Adams made the Chargers secondary barbeque chicken:
—That BBQ chicken reference is from Bolts wide receiver Keenan Allen saying he was going to slay the Raiders secondary when guarded man-to-man. Allen did have six catches for 88 yards and a score (a 35-yard improvised route and catch on fourth down in the fourth quarter). But other than that, the only cooking happening Sunday was Adams roasting L.A.’s defensive backs.
—Chandler Jones picked an opportune time to remind everyone what the Raiders defense thought it’d being getting at the onset. The 32-year-old pass rusher racked up three sacks in the first half as he smashed Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert constantly. Jones came into the game with merely half a sack to his name and walked out with a hat trick of quarterback takedowns and five quarterback hits.
—Use the MASH Unit the Chargers have become due to injury as a crutch if you like. Just remember the Raiders aren’t a paragon of ideal health, either.
—Veteran safety Duron Harmon provides stability at the safety position no one else can, which helped facilitate to the dismissal of Jonathan Abram. Getting everyone else lined up and communication is a Harmon specialty and he punched the ball out for a forced fumble to set up the Carr-to-Adams 31-yard touchdown pass.
—Speaking of Raiders safeties, undrafted free agent Isaiah Pola-Mao saw his most extensive action of the season and collected his first career sack along with five total tackles. Deployed close to the line of scrimmage the lanky 6-foot-4, 210-pound rookie took down Herbert in the second quarter after Jones forced him to move up in the pocket.
—The Raiders offensive line held up impressively well blanking the Chargers pass rush in terms of sacks. Specific kudos to right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor and left tackle Kolton Miller for rendering Bolts pass rusher Khalil Mack ineffective.
—Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs returned from his stint on injured reserve (broken thumb) and led the team in tackles (eight combined). A physical and bigger presence at corner, Hobbs showed how much Las Vegas missed him by perfectly playing a sideline throw that fell incomplete. He used the sideline as an extra defender and kept the receiver on the boundary forcing a tough throw.