Running Back Jalen Richard
The Silver and Black are back in the playoffs.
After a 14-year drought, the Oakland Raiders are once again in the postseason, officially clinching a spot in the playoffs with their 19-16 win over the San Diego Chargers.
Not only is Head Coach Jack Del Rio's squad back in the playoffs, but combined with the Kansas City Chiefs loss to the Tennessee Titans, they're also back on top of the AFC West with two games left to play.
Next on the agenda for the Raiders is a Saturday matchup with Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, but before our focus shifts to that game, let's look at five takeaways from the Week 15 win over the Chargers.
1. The run game got rolling
The Raiders haven't made it a secret; they want to be able to run the ball effectively, even when the opposing defense knows that it's coming.
Well, Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium, the Silver and Black were able to do just that, tallying 145 yards on the ground, their best output since Week 9.
While Latavius Murray paced the team with 81 yards, it really was a group effort for the Raiders on the ground, with both Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington getting in the mix as well.
"Guys just want to win, and I think that's the biggest deal," said Washington. "It's not really about who gets the most carries, and when they come…. Guys just want to win."
The Raiders have routinely shown that when they're boasting an impressive rushing attack, they have one of the most-dynamic offenses in the NFL, and that sentiment certainly rang true Sunday in San Diego.
2. Bruce Irvin made his presence felt
When the Raiders signed Bruce Irvin in March, they did so with the hopes that he'd provide a great complement to Khalil Mack, and Sunday afternoon, that vision came true as Irvin ran rampant against the Chargers, finishing the day with six tackles and two sacks.
With Irvin coming from one edge and Mack the other, the Raiders defense was able to effectively generate pressure against Philip Rivers all afternoon, making life difficult for the veteran signal-caller
"Well today the way he got around the quarterback was the best part about it, but I think that from the moment that Bruce arrived, he and Khalil had a natural competition or natural kind of bond where they were two alpha males," Head Coach Del Rio said. "They were going to push each other really hard every day and compete every day. Bruce has been tremendous for us, and is a really great addition to the football team."
While Mack's streak of consecutive games with a sack came to an end Sunday, the attention he demanded help spring Irvin free to get after Rivers.
It's a beautiful thing to see two edge rushers feeding off each other and getting to the quarterback, and watching Mack and Irvin at work against the Chargers was an impressive sight to behold.
3. Sebastian Janikowski was clutch once again
I feel like each week we talk about the luxury that having Sebastian Janikowski on the roster provides the Raiders.
The veteran kicker's big leg has now almost become the stuff of legend, and once again he put it to good use Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium.
In total, Seabass connected on all four of his field goal attempts, scoring 13 of the Raiders 19 points against the Chargers, including the eventual game winner with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter.
"I'm certainly glad that we got the points we lined up for him," Del Rio said. "That's the bottom line, is we like to get seven. We got points that we've lined up for him."
While the team wasn't able to get in the end zone at the rate they would have liked Sunday afternoon, No. 11 made sure that the Raiders were able to come away with points on four, very important possessions.
"I felt pretty good," added Janikowski. "Every week, I feel good. Just go and do my business."
The veteran kicker did just that, and because of that, the Raiders flew back to Oakland with a well-earned win.
4. Raider Nation took over Qualcomm Stadium
Give yourselves a round of applause Raider Nation, you successfully turned Sunday's game at Qualcomm Stadium into a home game for the Silver and Black.
Heading into the weekend, we knew we'd see a lot of Raiders jerseys in the stands, but the sheer volume of those jerseys, signs, and cheers was quite impressive.
In the waning minutes of the game, with the Chargers backed up right in front of their end zone, the Raiders defense asked the crowd for noise, and the Raiders fans in attendance responded in a big way, which safe to say isn't something you see often – if ever – on the road.
"They were hyped, man," safety Nate Allen said when asked about the fans. "It was pretty cool. We had heard that it might be like that coming in. We've got a great fan base, and obviously they travel real well, and it's awesome. Anytime you can do that, [it] definitely gives your defense a boost, and your entire team.
Raider Nation was loud and proud Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium, and there is no doubt that their impact was felt throughout the game.
Heck, at one point there were even MVP chants for Derek Carr cascading down from the stands.
Well done, Raider Nation, very well done.
5. The Raiders are back in the driver's seat for the division crown
The Raiders Week 15 win, combined with the Kansas City Chiefs 19-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans, means that after 10 days in second place, the Silver and Black are back atop the AFC West.
While the Raiders clinched their first playoff berth since 2002 with the win, with two games left on the regular season schedule, there is still quite a bit left on the table for the team to accomplish, mainly winning the division, which is now back in play following Sunday's results.
"It definitely feels good, but like Coach says, we have to just keep going, keep bringing great energy and toughness e
"Our number one goal was always to win the AFC West," defensive tackle Dan Williams said. "That's in the back of our minds, and we're just going to continue to take it one day at a time. Like Coach always says, trust the process, respect the process, and everything else will take care of itself."
Yes, clinching a spot in the postseason is certainly cause for celebration, but I have a feeling the team will be celebrating a lot harder if in two weeks' time if they're AFC West champions.