Win and they're in.
That's the lay of the land going into the Raiders' season finale against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Silver and Black worked as a cohesive unit to pull out another win on the road and keep their playoff hopes alive. Their 23-20 victory against the Indianapolis Colts was their third straight win decided by less than a touchdown margin. Now moving past the Colts, the Raiders will secure a playoff spot if they can defeat their AFC West foe – the Los Angeles Chargers – who previously defeated them 28-14 in Week 4.
Here are a few numbers that showcase the resiliency of this team that's battling for their playoff lives late in the season.
The Raiders are rolling at the very best possible time.
The Silver and Black are on a three game winning streak, tied for their longest win streak of the season. The Raiders won their first three games of the season before sliding to 6-7, culminating with their 39-point loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders have woken up since that blowout, fighting for their playoff lives week by week.
"We'd like to think that we are a team that cares about each other," said Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia. "We're a team that knows what to do and does what we know. And then, we are a team that is going to compete with relentless effort from start to finish and sometimes it's going to go your way, and sometimes it doesn't. I think if you can look at the way we just keep battling and battling and battling. I think the last two weeks, maybe the last three weeks, we've improved as the game has gone on as well."
Cash Money Carlson isn't just a cool nickname, it's became a way of life this season.
Daniel Carlson knocked in another game-winning field goal in Indianapolis on Sunday, marking his fourth game-winner of the season. Carlson has the fifth-highest field goal percentage across the league (min. 20 attempts) this season at 92.1 percent. This is his second straight season making over 90 percent of his field goals after 16 games.
"I think he plays like he practices," Bisaccia said after Carlson's game winner against the Colts. "I don't ever really think much about it. You go to the other end, I think they have a really good battery, our guys have held the job in protection up front and I know he has the mindset, even if he has a bad play before, like the kickoff, to be able to come back and put us up in a position to help our team win. I think the whole team has total confidence in Daniel (Carlson)."
Two ironmen of the Raiders O-line happen to be a pair of UCLA Bruins.
The Raiders' starting left tackle Kolton Miller and center Andre James are the only two players this season that have played 100 percent of all offensive or defensive snaps this season. Both linemen have been crucial in the Raiders' offensive success and protection of the quarterback as Derek Carr is second in the league in completion percentage (69.2) and fourth in the league in passing yards (4,618).
"Two guys that played exceptionally well in the offensive line is Kolton Miller – who was outstanding – and Andre James [who] probably played his best game," Bisaccia said Monday afternoon of the linemen's showing against the Colts. "[James] really played well inside against a really physical nose guard upfront. Certainly he's coming into his own. Well done there."
The 2016 season for the Raiders still lives in the hearts of many fans.
The 2021 season may now be categorized in the same fashion as that 12-4 season as one of the greatest in recent memory for the franchise. With the Raiders securing their ninth win Sunday amid a season of adversity, this will be their first season since 2016 the team finishes with a winning record. This will also be their second season since 2002 they've finished with a winning record.
Denzel Perryman is tied for third in the NFL in solo tackles with 94 – an impressive feat considering he's missed two games this season.
The Pro Bowl linebacker recovered from COVID-19 to give an impressive showing against superstar running back Jonathan Taylor, as he finished with seven tackles (five solo). His will to win and play even at less than 100 percent was very impressive to his quarterback.
"It's unbelievable. I mean you could tell," said Derek Carr. "He's running, making tackles and he's taking a knee a little bit longer than he usually does. The fight – that's why he's a Pro Bowler. I've always thought he's one of the best linebackers in the league when he was with the Chargers and all that. Now that he's getting the recognition and he's played a lot of plays, he's staying relatively healthy. I'm glad that he's getting that recognition because he has that mentality. He's one of my favorites."
View the best photos from the Raiders' Week 17 victory against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium