What a difference a half makes.
Heading into halftime of Sunday's matchup with the Denver Broncos, the Raiders looked flat and outmatched – finishing the half with -12 offensive yards, and staring at a 12-0 deficit on the road in an unwelcoming environment.
But there were no hanging heads in the halftime locker room, no vocal frustrations from a young team trying to prove themselves in the AFC West – instead; there was a sense of optimism.
"Coach Del Rio had a smile on his face at halftime because he knew what was going to come," said tight end Mychal Rivera. "He knew that we were much better than what we what we had displayed, and that's what we did. We came out and answered."
That answer took just 9 plays and 5:13, as Derek Carr led the Raiders offense on an 80-yard drive capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts.
"I gave my man a move, and he kind of bit on the slant," Roberts explained. "I took it up, and I made a play. DC [Derek Carr] threw the ball perfectly, and I made a play on it."
The score not only marked the Raiders first sustained drive of the afternoon, but it also brought them within one score, an impressive feat following the struggles of the first half.
"It was important because of how ugly the first half was," Carr said when discussing his touchdown pass to Roberts. "And that's what it was. We all agree on that. It didn't look like who we can be and who we are. It was very, very important for us to come down and keep that energy that I was talking about when we were in halftime and when we came out on the sideline – keep that energy up for our team."
And that energy remained consistent, particularly on the defensive side of the football.
After being outgained by 236 yards in the first half, Head Coach Jack Del Rio's team reset the mechanism and proceeded to outgain the Broncos by 52 yards in their 15-12 win.
While the 52 yards might not seem that impactful, keep in mind that the defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.'s defense surrendered a mere 86 yards, pitched a shut out in the second half and also generated two points off a safety.
"We're going to rely on them [the defense] heavily," Carr said. "They're going to rely on us heavily for the next however many years we're all together. You can't win these games on one side of the ball. You can't do it. You can't win championships on one side of the ball. At some point, we're all going to rely on each other, and they came up big holding them to field goals in the first half. That was huge for us. They deserve all the credit. They came up huge for us today."
And he's right, the defense was outstanding Sunday, but Carr and the offense deserve credit as well for making plays when the opportunities presented themselves in the second half.
With a spectacular display of defense, the Oakland Raiders earn a precious win against division rival Broncos, snapping an eight- game losing streak to Denver along the way.
"It's a big win," safety Charles Woodson said. "We were down 12-0, I believe, going into halftime, came out and didn't allow them to score another point in the game. Hat off to everybody on the team for going out and just continuing to grind and getting this win."
With the win, the Raiders improve their record to 6-7 and keep their playoff hopes alive for another week, but regardless of what happens over the next month, Woodson believes the rest of the rest of the division has been put on notice – these Raiders are not the Raiders of yesteryear.
"I think we've really been sending a message all year," Woodson said. "We've been in games. I don't think there's anybody out there that doesn't take this team serious. The message has been sent and now we put this one behind us and get ready for a game next week."