After dropping three games in a row, and with their playoff aspirations on life support, the Oakland Raiders traveled to Nashville, Tenn., in desperate need of a win – and that is exactly what they flew home with Sunday night after knocking off the Titans 24-21 at Nissan Stadium.
While the game wasn't the prettiest you'll see, Derek Carr returned to his typical self, throwing for 330 yards, 3 touchdowns and engineering his third career game-winning drive to help keep the Raiders postseason aspirations afloat.
Next on the agenda for Jack Del Rio's team is a pivotal Week 13 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs at O.co Coliseum, however, before we officially look ahead to the Chiefs, let's rewind and see what we learned from the Raiders big win over the Titans.
This Guy David Amerson Can Play A Little Bit
The Oakland Raiders coaching staff made a change to their base defense Sunday afternoon, inserting David Amerson for DJ Hayden at cornerback opposite TJ Carrie for the matchup with the Titans.
Amerson definitely made the most of his opportunity too, playing tremendously in coverage and setting a career-high with 6 passes defensed, according to STATS, LLC. His six passes defensed also registered as a Raiders single-game record.
From the moment the game started, Amerson was the best corner on the field, and he really did put on a defensive display against the Titans offense, making acrobatic play after acrobatic play and ensuring life was miserable for the Titans receivers.
Oh, and he recorded his second interception of the season too.
Not a bad day at the office for the Raiders cornerback.
Balance Can Be Overrated
Before the team flew to Nashville Friday afternoon, Head Coach Del Rio was asked about reinvigorating the offense, and he said that balance doesn't necessarily have to be a part of that equation.
"I don't see anywhere were it says you have to run a certain amount of times or throw a certain amount of times," Head Coach Del Rio said.
And he proved that point Sunday, with Carr and backup Matt McGloin throwing a combined 38 times, while running the ball only 30 – without great success at that.
Also, with the game on the line and the Raiders needing to find the end zone to win, they leaned exclusively on the passing game, calling nine pass plays and no runs en route to the game-winning touchdown.
"We got some looks where we could take those chances, but they gave us some looks where we could take some shots and they [Raiders wide receivers] made plays," Carr said postgame. "A lot of stuff plays into all of that and my job is easy, I just throw it up to those guys and they go get it. Those guys made a lot of plays, but we got looks to do those kinds of things today."
Khalil Mack Is Rounding Into Form
Sunday afternoon, Khalil Mack sure looked like the dominant defensive player General Manager Reggie McKenzie envisioned when he selected him with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Mack was a force all game and filled up the stat sheet, totaling 6 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits and 2 tackles for loss.
With his pair of sacks, Mack now leads the team with 7, which also means he's the first Raiders player with seven sacks in a season since Tommy Kelly totaled 7.5 in 2011.
After a quiet few weeks, where it appeared as though he wasn't 100 percent, Mack has certainly come back with a vengeance as of late, as he's now notched 3 sacks in the past 3 games.
Particularly with the loss of Aldon Smith, the Silver and Black needed Mack to step up and be a dominant pass rusher, and he's certainly looked the part as of late.
The Wide Receiver Group Is A Deep One
Heading into 2015, the depth of the wide receiving corps was one of the perceived strengths of the Raiders, particularly after the addition of both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
With Cooper and Crabtree, Derek Carr has two legitimate, offensive weapons, but what's really been surprising is how effective the rest of the position group has been.
After the win in Tennessee, the Silver and Black now have six players with at least three receiving touchdowns which serves as a franchise record.
They also have four wide receivers (Crabtree, Cooper, Roberts and Holmes) with four touchdowns apiece.
Derek Carr has done an outstanding job this season distributing the football, but has surely been helped by the fact that he has dynamic playmakers on the outside.
Sunday's Matchup Against The Chiefs Is Big
Head Coach Del Rio consistently preaches that the NFL is a week-to-week league and he's right – his team can only focus on what's in front of them and the challenge of the next opponent.
However, their next opponent is a Kansas City Chiefs team that has won five games in a row and sits ahead of the Silver and Black in both the division and the Wild Card standings.
While nothing is mathematically impossible, the Denver Broncos have built up an impressive lead in the AFC West, so if the Raiders want to make a run at the postseason, it will likely have to be by way of one of the two Wild Card spots.
With Sunday's win over the Titans, the Raiders have once again vaulted themselves into the AFC playoff picture, but a win over the Chiefs would go a long way in helping them reach their final goal.