INTERIM HEAD COACH TONY SPARANO
On the game: "That didn't go the way we wanted it to go, obviously. Got beat by a good football team out there. Did a heck of a job – give them a lot of credit. We had a chance there. Our defense made a good play with a tipped ball and Keith [McGill] picked the ball up; we scored. We got it to within a score. We weren't doing much offensively. Talk about starting fast and we didn't start fast and get into a rhythm. And then we gave up some big plays and costly penalties. Thought the kids fought early in the ball game there to keep the thing close. Had another chance there down at the end to close it, a flea-flicker play, that's a touchdown and we missed the play, didn't execute it. Those are the things that you've got to do when you're paying good teams like this. You can't give them other chances. That, coupled with some big plays that they made in the pass game, I think it certainly put us in a hole. You can't be in a hole against this football team and try to come back."
Q: Anything jump out as far as the offense in the first half?
Coach Sparano: "We weren't in a rhythm. We couldn't convert third downs. There was some man-to-man out there, quite honestly, it looked like a pressure or two in there. I thought Derek [Carr] skated a couple of times and tried to buy some time, but we didn't win in the one-on-one matchups early in the game. I think when you're holding the ball like that and you're not winning in those situations, you're throwing into tight windows and I felt like a lot of the balls today that we were throwing early in the game were contested throws and that's not good. We have to separate better."
Q: Why do you think the Raiders are a different road team than they are at home?
Coach Sparano: "Listen, again, I've answered that question about five times now, but I'll answer it again for you. I do think we're a young football team. I know people want to look at Woodson and Tuck and those people and say we're a veteran team, but we're really not. You take Charles out of the secondary back there today and you've played one guy – Chance Casey we picked up two weeks ago and the guy played a lot of snaps today in nickel – you're out there with DJ, you're not out there with TJ, you're out there with Keith McGill. And there's nothing wrong with that. You've got Ray-Ray [Armstrong] in there and those type of things. Same thing on offense right now. We're a young football team and we've got to learn when you come on the road, particularly in our division which are hard places to play – Kansas City, Denver, San Diego – they're tough places to play, we have to learn to take that same kind of swagger and bring it to the road with us. We start fast at home usually and that's been something that obviously home is a little bit more comfortable for everybody. These teams that are playing these playoff games and playing their way into the playoffs are all working hard to get home-field advantage. But when you're taking young guys on the road like this, we have to learn to get over the hump that way, not different than we do at home. As coaches, we have to do a better job of kind of trying to get ourselves into a little bit of a rhythm early in the ball game. But I would say that's probably the biggest difference."
Q: Do you think you've done enough to show you should be back next season?
Coach Sparano: "Again, listen, I think that the body of work that's here right now…my answer to that with this body of work we've put together – and I'm talking about the total body of work from where it was to where it is right now and all the things we've been through as a football team right now – my answer is yes. I don't make those decisions. Those decisions will be made here shortly and they'll be made by Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie. I'm totally prepared for that. But I just know that the body of work and where we were a long time ago and where we are right now are two totally different places and I think that's fairly obvious right now. I don't know that you can judge that on one game."
Q: Do you still think your quarterback holds promise for the future?
Coach Sparano: "Yeah, if we're going to look at this game and make a judgment on this game, that's not what we do. We look at 16 games. This guy has played 16 games of football right now and he's been a pretty darn good football player for us for 16 games. I have all the confidence in the world in Derek Carr. I know that he's going to be one heck of a quarterback here in the future. No question in my mind that this football team has their quarterback."
Q: Are you concerned that the perception of the last three road games will obscure the good things you did in the last three home games?
Coach Sparano: "Listen, I don't know that. Am I concerned about it? I don't like the fact that we come out on the road and we don't play as well as we do at home, but I think that's something that is fixable. I do. I think that's fixable. I think a year from now, when you look at this thing and you look back on it, and you look at all the snaps these young players have had in these environments in places like Seattle and tough places to play, that'll only serve us good. The one thing this football team has done, and I just told them in there and I'm proud of every guy in that room. I know it didn't go our way today, but I'm proud of them for the fight that they fought. It's been a heck of a rollercoaster and they've been through a lot too, but I know their feelings in that locker room and I just think that as a young football team they'll learn how to win on the road just the way they learned how to win at home. I don't question that all. They're pretty good students."
Q: Was Khalil Mack anywhere near 100 percent today?
Coach Sparano: "Early in the week, I would say obviously it wasn't great. You guys know that with the way that he practiced. I had him limited during the week. Khalil is a competitor and I love that about him. He's just a tremendous kid and a tremendous competitor and he wanted to go out there and fight today and we let him fight for awhile out there, but we had to get him in and out a little bit. There was one period where I just felt like we had to take him out of the game."
Q: Have you been told you have a chance to interview for the job next year?
Coach Sparano: "Have I been told that? Yeah."
QB DEREK CARR
Q: Kind of a rough start that first half.
Carr: "Yes, there's no excuses. They were better than us today and that was evident. That's the first thing that Coach said. The first thing Coach said to us was, 'they were better than us and there's nothing else to be said; they were just better.'"
Q: Do you still consider yourself the future of this franchise?
Carr: "Oh, absolutely."
Q: From today, what makes you say that?
Carr: "Just everything, just really the whole season, from what I've been told, from what has gone on, the way things have gone on. I'm probably the least stressed person right now."
Q: Do you think it's a plus on your side that you survived the season, it's been a rough season in a lot of ways, you survived to play every game and came out whole?
Carr: "Yeah, it's always a blessing to come out healthy. You always want to do that. This game, as we saw late in the game, this game is not friendly. Our prayers are going out to his [David Bruton, Jr.] family and him for healing and just peace for that family because this game is hard. We saw it right there. So any time you come out of the season healthy or at least somewhat healthy, you've got to count that as a plus. That's definitely a blessing."
Q: What are you going to do in the offseason?
Carr: "The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to take – I say a couple weeks, but it never is – I'll take two weeks, but it'll be less than that and my wife will be mad at me, rest. Then I'm back to work, starting off slow physically. Obviously your body just went through a beating all year, so physically I'll be kind of slow in that. I probably won't throw for a while - take that off completely. But then I'm going straight to work because I'm not going to let that happen again, a season like that, as long as I'm the quarterback in Oakland, which will be for a long time. That's not going to happen anymore."
Q: On the flea-flicker play, did that kind of tell you it wasn't your day?
Carr: "Yeah, I mean there's always things like that when things are that close…but this game, I can't say this wasn't our day. I can say they played better than us. That's what I can say. Of course you want to connect on those. We'll go back and look at the film and see what happened, but for lack of a better term, it was not our day."
Q: What do you have to get better at?
Carr: "For me, really it's just taking all the knowledge right now because right now I've gained so much knowledge throughout the season, I have so many notes. I need to sit down and put my notes out and see, 'hey, these are the three main areas where I need to progress or get better.' Whatever it is. I wish I had an answer for you, but I need to sit down because I have notes compiled throughout the year, things that I want to do and need to do. I'm going to do that and whatever those things are, I guarantee that they'll be fixed. I'll come back and whatever those things need to be, those things will be fixed for next year."
Q: So you literally have a notebook full?
Carr: "Oh I have probably over 20 notebooks that I'll have to go through."
RB LATAVIUS MURRAY
On Oakland starting the game slow on offense: "I think we just didn't get it going. We kind of beat ourselves again. We need to come out and start fast and we didn't."
On the Raiders having such a young team: "You've definitely got to build on what we've got right now, and I think we definitely will do that. It's time for us to step up, be leaders, take control and make sure we're doing our best to make sure we have a successful season next year."
On trying to find success on the road: "Like I said, we need to be able to come out and start fast and like we said all week, play with that swagger that we do have at home."
On individual growth from last year to this year: "I feel like I'm getting better. I'm still learning. Some of the runs may have negative plays, but we find some positives ones too. Trying to build on that and make sure I get back ready to go and stay hungry."
DE JUSTIN TUCK
On the team's overall performance**
"We didn't execute consistently. I thought we did some good things. Holding [Denver Broncos QB Peyton] Manning without a touchdown in that game, but we had some gap stuff in run game and our offense didn't get it going. You got to keep him off the field in order to beat him. He's done that for years. We just weren't able to put it together as a collective effort and they took advantage of our mistakes."
On the Denver Broncos:"That team is what we're shooting to get to. And hopefully this is a lesson we take in the offseason on what it takes to win in this league. Those guys are good. Hats off to them. But, and I know this is going to sound strange to hear it from me, but we're not that far off. We're really not. I've got a lot of confidence in what we can do here. If we just put a few more pieces in the puzzle and just play with more confidence than what we did here tonight."
On the Oakland Raiders coaching staff: "I don't know what kind of voice I have or opinion, but I love this coaching staff. I love how they get us prepared. I love their attitude and how they come to work every day. [Head Coach Tony Sparano] has my vote."
On Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning: "How old is Peyton? 38. If I play as well as Peyton at 38, I'm going to be damn happy with it. Everybody talks about how he lost a little zip on his pass, but I don't run a 4.4 no more. That's what age does. But he still finds a way to hit his wide receivers in stride."
On teammate Charles Woodson: "He's seen it all. A lot of times he's out of his post before the guy even throws the ball because he knows when it's coming. Even when you've lost a step – which I don't think he has – his mind is so much faster than everyone else is on the football field."
LB KHALIL MACK
On his overall thoughts on the season**: "It is what it is. I went out there and gave it my all every day as well as my teammates. I know they went out there and gave it their all as well. The results are not what you want, but at the end of the day we get a chance to come back and improve on it."
On the learning curve as a rookie in the NFL: "I learned a lot this year. Playing against the best players in the world, I know you have to go out every week and give it your all. You can't hold back. You can't take a play off."
On playing through injury: "On that particular situation it was a little different. It was my first time ever dealing with an injury throughout the season. It just so happened it was the last game. It flared up on me last week. I thought it was going to be mild throughout the week. I did the treatment and necessary things to stabilize it."
On possibly being named Defensive Rookie of the Year: "It was a goal of mine, but even then you want to win games, so that's my main focus: go out and win. As far as Rookie of the Year, it is what it is."
S CHARLES WOODSON
On why the Raiders lost today: "Well, I think today we just ran into a better team; that's the bottom line today. Denver's a better team than we are and we weren't able to put it together coming down here to [Sports Authority Field at] Mile High. That's basically that."
On if he thinks Broncos QB Peyton Manning has lost any arm strength: "Peyton is Peyton in my eyes. I think every player in this league at some point has a bad game, but when it comes to a player that has played as long as he has and myself, they always have to pinpoint on something; they look at whatever they can look at, whether it's the arm or something. He's playing well, they've got a good team and they're in the playoffs with a chance to go on with the rest of their season."
On if he will come back next season**: "Right now I would say I plan on it, but that would depend heavily on the Raiders at this point, see what they want to do, and we'll go from there."
On if he thinks he has enough left in the tank to be effective: "No doubt. The crazy thing is I still feel like I can get better. We'll see what happens here."
On the importance of taking time to reflect following a season: "Any time a season ends, you reflect on the season. You think about things that you could have done better, things that you did well and figure out going forward how to capitalize on the things that you did well. The offseason is here, so we'll have a lot of time to think about it right now."
On his biggest takeaway from the season: "For us, I think, (it was) an up-and-down year. Way too many losses for sure, but the one thing I'll say about this team is that we kept coming into work with positive attitudes about what we were doing. We were positive about the work that we continued to still have to do week in and week out. Guys never got down on themselves as far as football players; we all stayed professional, came in and got our work done. That's the thing that I'm most proud of with this particular team."
On if he feels Raiders Head Coach Tony Sparano has done enough to retain his job: "As I said last week, he's definitely made his case. I think guys on this team, I think they actually believe in coach Sparano. I think he did a good job with the guys from a week-to-week basis trying to get us ready for games and having us prepared as a team, so yeah, I'll say it again: I think he's made a good case."
On Raiders QB Derek Carr: "He's going to be one of the good quarterbacks in this league. He's a guy, I think, if you start surrounding him with more playmakers, he's going to be just fine."
On if he would like to see Sparano back as head coach: "Like I said, I think he's done a good job for this team. I mean, our record doesn't reflect the way that he's come in and taken control of this team, but the last couple of weeks, if you look at what we've done at home, we came out and were able to get some home wins. We hadn't done that in a while. A lot of that is his vision and him coming in and making a few changes here and there, so I think he's done a good job with the team."
On if facing Manning is more difficult with a young Raiders secondary: "I don't think it's about being difficult because they're young guys. I just think (Denver has) got a good team. They were able to capitalize on some things that we didn't do well. Last week we did very well against the run, this week we did not. Any time a team can run the ball, that's hard on you from a defensive standpoint. Hats off to them; they came, they grinded it out and got a big win they needed."
On being one of three players remaining from the 1998 Draft Class (Manning and Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck): "It's funny. Earlier in the year it was brought to my attention about there being only three guys. I think it says a lot about the guys that are still around. Us three, we've been fortunate to be relatively healthy for the most part, we love the game and have been good at what we do. That's why you can last this long. It's a blessing for each of us to be around this long."