ALAMEDA (AP) — Coach Jack Del Rio noticed a lot more smiles around the Oakland Raiders offices this Monday than there were a week ago.
That’s what a win can do for a team.
The Raiders rode the best game of young quarterback Derek Carr’s career to rally past Baltimore for a 37-33 victory on Sunday. They bounced back from the lopsided season-opening loss to Cincinnati and at least ended the talk of the “same old Raiders” for one week.
“I think we took a step forward as a football team,” Del Rio said. “Offensively some of the things we were talking about a week ago, were a lot better this week. We’re looking to make the same kind of jump on defense.”
Carr played like the franchise quarterback the Raiders (1-1) hope he becomes, completing 30 of 46 passes for a career-high 351 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner to Seth Roberts with 26 seconds remaining.
That was part of a breakthrough offensive performance that saw the Raiders score on seven of their 10 full drives against a defense that had shut down Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos just a week earlier.
Rookie Amari Cooper (nine catches, 111 yards, one TD) and Michael Crabtree (seven catches, 109 yards, one TD) gave the Raiders the big-play targets they have lacked on the outside for most of the past decade.
Latavius Murray gained yards on all of his 15 runs and finished with 87 yards from scrimmage against a stout front and Carr was sacked just once in Oakland’s highest-scoring game since 2010.
As well as the Raiders played offensively, the defense still remains a work in progress. Oakland allowed 493 yards, gave up two TD catches to the opposing tight end for the second straight week and failed to record a single sack for the second game in a row.
Joe Flacco engineered two long scoring drives to erase a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter before the Raiders held Baltimore to a field goal on a short field following an interception by Carr.
That allowed Oakland to take the lead on the final drive and the defense sealed the win when Neiko Thorpe intercepted a pass in the final seconds.
“There’s too many give away plays,” Del Rio said. “We need to keep the easy things in the easy category and not create problems for ourselves. Good, sound, solid football. As we do that and gain confidence, we’ll start making some of the routine plays and then some of the special plays will come.”
Del Rio said it is a lot more enjoyable to make those corrections following a win, rather than a loss. The team believes the progress made the first two weeks is evidence of the improvements made this offseason following a 3-13 year.
Now the task will be carrying those to the road, where the Raiders have lost 11 straight games and 19 of the past 20. Oakland is also looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since October 2012.
The Raiders have been outscored by more than 21 points a game following their past nine wins, including a 52-0 loss to St. Louis a year ago after the first win of the season.
“I hope it just elevates what we’ve been saying,” defensive lineman Justin Tuck said. “This not the Raiders team of old. But at the end of the day, it’s one win.”