If there's one word to describe the Raiders' 2021 season, it's resiliency. Without a doubt.
It has been said over and over from coaches, players, and media members throughout the season as the Silver and Black have had their ups and downs, but it was surely on display Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Derek Carr led the Raiders out to an almost perfect opening drive that ended in a Josh Jacobs 2-yard touchdown. But after that, the offense began to sputter a bit, settling for two field goals before the half as the Colts ramped up both their offensive and defensive energy.
"For whatever reason, we have adversity this season, we have adversity in the games," Carr said postgame. "It's almost like, 'Gosh, can we get a break here or there?' But we'll take the wins, trust me. No matter how we have to do it, we're finding a way to do it because we have the right kind of guys. There's never been a doubt; there's never been a finger pointed at this or that."
A Colts touchdown right out the gate in the third quarter could've left a less resilient team deflated. It could have crushed a team's playoff hopes.
But like they've done again and again, Las Vegas responded.
Carr linked up with Hunter Renfrow on fourth down for a touchdown, and after a Colts field goal tied it up late, No. 4 went back out and took the game over. He marched the Raiders down the field and gave star kicker Daniel Carlson a relative chip shot to knock in another game-winner – as easily as he has three previous times this season.
It's a credit in part to the defense keeping the Colts to 3-of-11 on third downs, but also to Carr taking chances moving around the pocket, as well as the offense taking chances on fourth downs. Twice on Sunday, Rich Bisaccia and Greg Olson were faced with fourth down situations and converted both, including Renfrow's score.
"The thing I thought was really exciting about him today is he had some creative plays in some difficult situations," Bisaccia said. "We get in that two-minute situation, our offense has proven – Greg puts them in really good positions with the play calls and then our offensive line bowed up and protected him."
"I think we have a lot of confidence when we get ourselves in a two-minute situation. I think we had all three of our timeouts, and we had a chance to move the ball down there and put ourselves in field goal position to win it. We had a lot of confidence in Derek to do that; he's done it a lot of times."
The team as a whole has gotten back to playing the complementary football seen out of them to start out the season: a relentless pass rush on defense grinding it out and getting it done, so the offense has more time on the field.
For his part, Carr believes having the same mentality in each player in the locker room benefits the team's tenacious spirit on the gridiron – a mentality that runs deep in the Raiders history: Just win, baby.
"Is the season over because our head coach is gone? Is the season over because our receiver is gone, our corner is gone? At the end of the day, we have a job to do. ... No one's going to come feel sorry for you," Carr said. "No one's going to come pat you on the back and tell you it's going to be OK. It's not OK; we've got to win.
"I think it's that mentality that we keep speaking into existence that when things happen, if I throw a pick, defense doesn't care. They don't even blink. They go out and they don't even let points happen. You get the ball back, and you're still right there in it."
There's one more game to go, and if the Raiders get that final win, they're playing in the playoffs – a first for many of these young players, including Carr.
"We've had to win the last three weeks to even make this one mean something. ... It's nice that it's at home. I can't wait to hear our fans and how loud it is on defense, how awesome that will be. But for us, I think every game for the last month has been a playoff game, and I don't think anything changes this week."
View photos from the Raiders' Week 17 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.