From the outside looking in, there was a pervasive thought that the Oakland Raiders never stood a chance of beating the Chicago Bears, and that didn't sit well with members of the Silver and Black.
Prior to the Week 5 clash at Tottenham Stadium in London, the only thing the media was talking about was the "Khalil Mack revenge game" and how No. 52 would lead a dominant Bears defense to victory.
They were wrong.
The Bears allowed over 100 rushing yards to the Raiders' rookie stud, Josh Jacobs, which is the first time this season Chicago has relented 100 rushing yards to any team. More importantly, Derek Carr went unscathed the entire game. Mack nearly sacked his former teammate, but it only resulted in a QB hit – the Bears only one of the entire night. The Raiders, however, were dominant defensively.
All offseason, the media was quick to point out the team's issues along the defensive line, feeling as if the team hadn't done enough to address it's pass rushing woes in the NFL Draft and free agency. It was an overused and exhausted headline that infuriated second-year defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr., and he wanted to make a statement Sunday.
"I think just hearing all offseason about how bad we were, and all this stuff," Hurst said when asked why this game was personal to him. "And how we had no pass rush and all this stuff., and the hype of the Bears defense. So, to come out and prove that and get this win, it just meant everything to us."
Hurst led all Raiders with two sacks, one of them coming in the final seconds of regulation to ice the win. Altogether, the unit totaled four sacks, with Benson Mayowa and rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby getting home as well.
It won't show up in the stat sheet, but Hurst had nearly three sacks, as Bears quarterback Chase Daniel threw it away, missed his target, and threw it right to cornerback Daryl Worley. It was a game-changing play that was caused by Hurst's pressure, but the interception was negated due to an asinine roughing the passer penalty. Hurst hit Daniel square in the torso — you couldn't have asked for better technique — but for some reason, whether it was the way he landed or not, resulted in a flag being thrown.
"I didn't even see what happened, I really just heard what happened after I was going back," Worley explained. "I just feel like they're reviewing pass interference now, so maybe they should start reviewing roughing the passer as well."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in attendance to watch the game, and I'd love to get his thoughts on what occurred because tripping over a flower nowadays is considered a personal foul.
Aside from the ridiculous penalty, the Raiders put themselves in a difficult position with a couple of fumbles and a big special teams return from Tarik Cohen. As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter, the Raiders trailed 21-17, but Derek Carr led the offense 97 yards and registered one of the best game-winning drives of his career, ending in Jacobs' second touchdown of the game. The offense still gave the Bears a little over a minute to make something happen, but the defense stood strong once again. With Daniel moving the Bears downfield, Hurst closed the game with a sack.
It's wins like these that bring a team together. The Raiders faced their fair share of adversity in Week 5, but they were able to rally together and not allow the Bears to complete a 17-point comeback.
"It shows that we're on the upside of things," Worley said. "We just got to keep climbing each week and prove that we're a good defense. As long as we're doing our part and the offense is doing their part, and the special teams is doing theirs, we should keep stacking wins."
Winning feels good and it feels even better when you can prove all the doubters and naysayers wrong in the process.
"It was awesome," Hurst said with a big grin. "If you've watched any of the ESPN channels no one is talking about us. No one is talking about us. We wanted to prove ourselves."