I'm having difficulty finding a Week 6 game that has meant so much to the Raiders in their 61-year history as a franchise than Sunday's game did.
The team and the organization had to move fast following Jon Gruden's resignation on Oct. 11 and worked hard to keep the focus on football. Even then, the Raiders – who started the season 3-0 – collectively had a lot of pressure on them coming off two straight losses.
In Rich Bisaccia's head coaching debut, he led the Raiders to a decisive 34-24 victory over their division rival – and he seemed to not have even broken a sweat in the process.
"To be honest with you, the best part for me was when we got on the grass, I just felt like we were getting ready to play a game," Bisaccia said Monday after the win. "I still kept the same responsibilities for the most part in the kicking game and then I just had a chance to communicate with Gus and Oly [Greg Olson] and their demeanor during the game was outstanding."
The Silver and Black looked at ease against the Broncos in all three phases of the game. Derek Carr played hard when it mattered. Throughout the week, Carr sent a message to the rest of the NFL that he's "got a job to do and that's never changed no matter who the coach is." The franchise quarterback backed up his words with 341 yards, two touchdowns and a 134.4 quarterback rating.
"For us in the locker room, I know it sounds funny, but we compartmentalize things. We have a job to do," Carr told the media Sunday. "If anything, it heightened our intensity, heightened our focus. It brought us closer, but the win is a win. For the organization, it feels different for some people, but for me ... I felt a certain way, but I had a job to do."
Bisaccia had credit and appreciation to go around for the entire team, acknowledging the contributions of the coaching staff and players such as AJ Cole, Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson and Damion Square, who all had a hand in the team improving to 4-2. Another player he gave high praise to was Maxx Crosby, the Raiders' current leader in sacks.
Bisaccia and Crosby's relationship is more complex than the results that have been produced on the field. In their three years together, they've become good friends and pushed each other to be their best selves in their everyday life. Crosby, in the past, has acknowledged Bisaccia, along with tight end Darren Waller, as being instrumental in helping him through his journey to sobriety.
"Coach Bisaccia has been incredible my whole time for the Raiders," said Crosby. "He took me under his wing since I got there. If I needed literally anything – talking about life, talking about football, talking about anything – he was always there for me. So I can't say enough good things about him. I'm just happy we got the win for him."
During his press conference Monday afternoon, Bisaccia expressed how "it's not a surprise for anyone" to see the way Crosby has been playing, and noted that the young edge rusher has played just as big of a part in his life as the interim head coach has in Crosby's.
"We've all got a chance to watch him practice and mature over the years that he's been here," said Bisaccia. "We loved him coming out of the draft and he's had a big influence on me as well. A lot of things that he's gone through and conversations that we've had; they've helped me grow as a man, they've helped me grow as a father and husband, and I know he's doing that with a lot of other guys. Him and Darren Waller, the story they have, the people they're helping; it's inspiring to all of us.
"So, he's awful kind with his words but he's done it to me as much as I may have done it to him."
With a 4-2 record coming off a must-win game, the Raiders' future seems to be just as bright as it was a few weeks ago after their overtime victory against the Baltimore Ravens. Bisaccia now has less than week to rally his team to another win and potentially go into their bye week with a 5-2 record. The Philadelphia Eagles, who just suffered a close loss to the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are their next challenge.
But wins don't come easy in the NFL, and Bisaccia has taken the necessary time to revel in his first one.
"To go on the road and play an AFC rival like the Denver Broncos in their place and to come out with a win was exciting for all of us and just helps us move forward on to Philadelphia."
View photos from the Raiders' Week 6 matchup against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High.