The win is what sticks out the most; it has to be the win.
Just less than a year ago, the Oakland Raiders traveled to Mexico City – the franchise's sixth international game in history – to take on the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca, eventually felling Brock Osewiler and Co., 27-20.
And while the pageantry of the international clash – from the national anthems, to the stadium itself – still remains fresh in the mind of Justin "Jelly" Ellis, there's something else about the Mexico City experience that comes to mind when he thinks back about his first game in Estadio Azteca.
"First of all, the crowd was electrifying," said Ellis. "They were up. It was loud. Everybody was active. I think that was the best part. We had a great crowd."
"It felt like a big-time home game," added Derek Carr. "The atmosphere is, as I've been told, a playoff atmosphere. It's loud. There's a hum, there's a buzz throughout the game for offense or defense. Especially when we're on defense, it gets really loud. They want us to win. You can tell by looking in the stands how many Raider fans there were there that it's definitely a home game for us."
Now, the Silver and Black are headed back to Mexico, once again playing a "home" game outside the United States, this time a vital Week 11 clash against the New England Patriots this Sunday.
And while there might be over 2,000 miles between the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and Estadio Azteca, Carr expects to see a heavy Raiders contingent when the game kicks off at 1:25 p.m. PT.
"You know I think for us, we've done such a good job of being able to travel and being able to make it just like home," Carr explained. "Especially taking a week off into Sarasota and those kinds of things. We've done that a couple of times. I feel like we're used to it now. We love our fans down in Mexico. We love playing in front of them because Raider Nation is everywhere for us. It'll definitely be a home game, that's for sure."
Just like they did a year ago, Head Coach Jack Del Rio and the Raiders will travel to Mexico the day before kickoff, and while the game is understandably won between the hash marks – and not in the airport – Ellis believes that the familiarity that the team has with the whole process from start to finish should help them come game time.
"For sure; I think it's going to help us that we did it last year," Ellis explained. "We know the things that are going to come [with] it. You're going to get tired. It's going to be loud, so you just have to get ready for those things, and just play football."
And one of those "things" that Ellis and the rest of all the players at Estadio Azteca will have to deal with is the elevation. Mexico's capital city is over 7,300 feet above sea level – for comparison's sake, Denver is 5,280 feet above sea level – and playing in those conditions is something that does indeed take a little extra preparation.
"You can for sure feel it more; it's higher," Ellis said when asked about playing in Mexico City's elevation. "You do feel it more… You do have to get yourself a little bit more tired in practice, to get yourself to focus and execute while you're tired. You should be doing that anyway, and I think you should eat cleaner. That's usually the main thing. You have to eat cleaner and hydrate."
Elevation aside, the Raiders will have their hands full squaring off against one of the top teams in the AFC Sunday afternoon, and while Carr knows what the Patriots bring to the table, he's also not shying away from the challenge.
"It's not a scary thing to play them," Carr said. "They're the next team on the schedule. Let's not make it something it's not, but let's respect that they're very smart. They're very wise in how they game plan things."
And if all goes to plan, and the Raiders are able to take care of business, the team will enjoy a happy ending to the organization's seventh international outing.