It would be remiss to tell the story of the Raiders' 21-17 win over the Patriots without crediting the defense.
The defensive unit has been playing at a high level the past few weeks, and there wasn't an exception Sunday. From beginning to end, the unit looked cohesive – conjuring four sacks and a Tre’von Moehrig interception while limiting the opposing offense to under 20 points for the third time this season.
"We have a lot of guys playing and they're scrapping and clawing," Josh McDaniels said postgame. "We gave some things up today, more in the middle of the game, I think. But [we] battled. ... You want to go ahead and close the game if you can and I thought they did a great job of executing at the end."
Two of the defense's sacks came from former Patriot Adam Butler and cornerback Amik Robertson, who had the game-winning interception last Sunday against the Packers. Both players believe good things are happening as the defense finds its chemistry.
"The D-line is causing havoc to those quarterbacks," said Robertson, who finished the game with the sack and four tackles. "It's building oppourtunites for the secondary. And you got to witness that tonight."
"Our chemistry and that bond is tighter than ever," Butler added. "As the games go by, we learn a little bit more about each other. Obviously we're a brand new group. ... We understand where different people are going to be in certain times. And I feel the very last play of the game showed that."
The last play of the game Butler is referring to is the game-sealing sack safety from Maxx Crosby and Bilal Nichols. On third-down with the Patriots pinned back at their end zone, the duo swooped around the edge for the split sack on Mac Jones, giving the Raiders two points and the ball back with less than two minutes in regulation.
It was Crosby's sixth sack of the season and his first safety of his entire football career.
"There's no better feeling, closing the game out," Crosby said. "We talked about it last week and the week before, our defense is improving and I think we're seeing that every single week. ... It was an out of body experience, it was incredible. Every time I go out on the field, I want to be at the best I can possibly be at it. I was battling some things, banged up, but it doesn't matter. My guys stuck next to me. We fought through it. We found a way."
While the Raiders are 3-3 heading into Week 7, there's no relief among the Raiders defense. Several players in the locker room alluded to not being fully content with their performance Sunday, still striving to reach their peak. Their upcoming road test against the Chicago Bears will give them another prime opportunity to continuing growing as a unit.
"We're still working," said Moehrig. "We had a good game today, but we're still working, coming to practice with the mindset of improving every week. We've still got to keep our foot on the gas because any game you could win or lose. We've just got to keep going."
View photos from the Raiders' Week 6 matchup against the New England Patriots at Allegiant Stadium.