ALAMEDA (AP) — Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio has done a good job of keeping his players focused on the task at hand rather than looking too far ahead.
With only five games left in the regular season and the Raiders still trailing a handful of teams in the chase for a wild-card spot, Del Rio sees no reason to alter his approach.
“Nothing’s really changed,” Del Rio said Monday. “You can take a look at the stats and see where you are and what the likelihood of what you need to do. You can talk about all those things, but if you’re talking about running the table and those kinds of things, it’s pretty hard to do anything more than one day at a time, one game at a time.”
Sunday’s comeback win over the Tennessee Titans snapped Oakland’s three-game losing streak that had put a serious dent in the Raiders playoff hopes. At 5-6, though, the Raiders are still in the hunt and will play three games against teams ahead of them in the standings, beginning with a home game against Kansas City.
Oakland is currently ninth in the playoff race and trails the Houston Texans, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Raiders have the tiebreaking edge over the Jets with their win over New York on Nov. 1, but lost to the Steelers in Week 9.
A win over the Chiefs would get the Raiders to .500 for the first time in December since 2011, though Del Rio, typically, downplayed the big picture.
“It’s a divisional game and it’s here at home, and it’s an important game for us,” he said. “It’s next.”
The Raiders came from behind to beat the Titans on Derek Carr’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts with 1:21 left to play. It marked the second winning drive Carr has engineered late in the fourth quarter this season and the third of his two-year career. It also came on the heels of close losses to Pittsburgh in Week 9 and to Detroit in Week 11.
Del Rio said it was part of the process of his mostly young team learning how to close out games.
“There are a lot of opportunities to be better, a lot of examples where we can learn a great deal,” Del Rio said. “But it’s great for your team when you have a quarterback capable, a line that gives you protection and receivers that get open. It’s great to be able to pull out a game like that.”
With 24 touchdown passes through 11 games, Carr is on pace to tie the single-season franchise record of 34 set by Daryle Lamonica in 1969. Lamonica is the only quarterback in franchise history to throw for 30 or more touchdowns in one season, having also done it in 1967.
“It just shows us that we’re doing things the right way,” Carr said. “You can win in this league with the way we’re doing things, but now we just have to continue to get better at doing it each and every week. You have to do it consistently in this league.”
NOTES: Center Rodney Hudson did not play against Tennessee because of a lingering ankle injury. He will be evaluated this week but is still day to day.