INTERIM HEAD COACH TONY SPARANO
On the game: "Big difference in a week. Hard fought game. This is the way rivalry sports games are supposed to be played. Really proud of the guys in that room. It took a lot of courage to do what they did today, a lot of courage. I love that group in there. They're resilient. I've been saying it over and over again, resilient bunch of guys. Thought they played really hard, both sides of the football, today, special teams. They fought really hard. That's a good football team out there we beat today and I'm really happy for our fans. I'm really happy for our owner, GM, but mostly happy for the kids in that room. They deserve it. It's been a long week and they fought their tails off for me this week and I really appreciate that. So what questions do we have?"
Q: Last week after the loss in St. Louis, you had said you wanted them to remember that feeling just like they remembered the feeling of the week before. And then the conversation turned to more along the lines of short-term memory. Which one of those ideas do you think served them best?
Coach Sparano: "I think short-term memory served them the best. This team has been that way the entire season. I wanted them not to forget the feeling they had there because this game goes in highs and lows. One week you can be on top of the mountain and the next week you can be at the bottom of that thing really fast. It's important that our team keeps learning here. Obviously, we learned a lesson. It's important also that you get rid of that feeling; it can linger, it can linger, it can linger. Our guys just don't let that happen. I've got great veterans in that room. Antonio Smith, he had three sacks tonight. This guy shows up. That's one of my guys now; this guy goes. Woodson with a big play at the end of the game. Tuck the way he fought. Donald Penn blocking 99 out there, that's a hard thing to do. These veteran players really did a heck of a job for me this week. These coaches did a heck of a job for me. I really appreciate that."
Q: Is this the kind of game that can change the organizational thinking from the ownership on down?
Coach Sparano: "Listen, I don't know what anybody thinks. I really don't. At this point right now, I care about what the people in that locker room think. I know what they think; I really do. As I said, we'll decide when this is over. Right now it's not over."
Q: I know your quarterback had a good game against San Diego, but do you think this is his best game?
Coach Sparano: "I honestly thought Derek played really well tonight. Best game? I don't know. I think he threw really well though. We had a lot of people down there in the box today and they didn't want us to run the ball. They obviously wanted to see whether or not we could beat them throwing the football and Derek was able to do that. I thought Mike Rivera had a huge game today. He came up big, made some big plays for us in the middle of the field, some run after catch plays. I thought Marcel came up big for us today, a couple plays that Marcel caught the ball and ran that way too. Derek was really efficient with the football. I think we were over 50 percent on third down today and those guys were around 24 percent, somewhere around there and that's a good recipe. We were able to run it, not able to get big chunks. You're not going to be able to get big chunks against those guys. Latavius came out of there at the end and made a nice run, punched one there. But we knew if we just stood the course and we were able to do that and convert on third downs, we'd give ourselves a chance in this football game. I thought Derek did a great job when we had to throw the football. I thought the line did a good job protecting him. He had a lot of time back there."
Q: Consistency has been such an issue all year long. In the second half of that game, you had two 80-yard touchdown drives back-to-back to take control of the game.
Coach Sparano: "One of the things we talked about this week and last night was just when you get into a game like this and you get into two teams going at each other and it's a physical battle like that, eventually some point in the course of these battles, somebody decides they're going to let go of the rope a little bit. We knew we had to stay on the attack and we couldn't let go of the rope. I think today our guys were really resilient towards the end of the football game there. I thought defensively we came up with some big plays and big stops. Offensively, putting together those two drives for scores, at that point they were long drives. We ate up some clock. I think we won the time of possession deal there against this team. Not a lot of people do that against them, so we were able to do that, and those two drives were critical. Our guys had really good tempo today. I thought [Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson] did a great job calling the ball game. I felt like those two drives were real staples. It was kind of going the other way a little bit there and we pulled the rope back. We had to show some hope and some hope came on the offensive side of the ball there with the score. We were able to start this thing rolling again in the second half."
Q: Had [Donald] Penn lobbied for the tackle eligibility?
Coach Sparano: "That was a play we'd been working on for a couple…two-three weeks. We kid him about it all the time in the offensive line room because we throw it to him in practice every once in awhile and the guy hasn't dropped one yet. It's something that they have good history with – Greg has good history with – with Donald throwing that thing. I didn't really expect it to be that kind of catch, so I'm sure I'm going to hear that he's a receiver and he's open all the time. I'd like him to stay right where he is."
Q: After the euphoria of the Chiefs win and the next week worst loss in team history, so how do you make sure this team doesn't lay an egg the next game?
Coach Sparano: "Again, we have to learn from where we were. I think one of the things that's when you're a team that hasn't won a game in a long time and all of a sudden you win a game like that against Kansas City, you have to learn how to handle those things. Obviously, we didn't handle it well. I didn't handle it well. That's in the past. This is now and we learn from our mistakes and we get ready to go forward here. Our guys get to work this week and we'll be to work and we'll get ourselves ready to go down there and play a great game this week."
Q: It looked like you guys were able to get some good pressure on Kaepernick…
Coach Sparano: "I think we won some one-on-one match-ups. I think JT [Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver] did a good job mixing some things in there. We stayed aggressive. We got our linebackers involved in a few things today with some of the pick games and those things with Khalil and Sio. I think we won some one-on-one match-ups in there today and I think that hurt a little bit. Towards the end of the second half he got out of there a couple of times on us and that's dangerous. We talked about that during the week, but I think for the most part, we were able to close the pocket in there. I don't know what we had…I think we had five sacks."
Q: Did you see something coming in with Rivera and Reece that you wanted to exploit coming in?
Coach Sparano: "We felt like, coming into the game, we could get Rivera and Marcel going a little bit in that way. We obviously wanted to get Latavius going a little bit in the backfield. I thought he ran the ball hard in there. But in the pass game, those kind of match-ups there was a lot of base personnel groupings that Marcel was in and getting Marcel extended a little bit and doing a few of those things. But really also with Rivera, getting him involved in that way in some of those match-ups and on the linebacker type of plays."
Q: How much of them being open there had to do with having so many guys in the box?
Coach Sparano: "Guys up in the box, yeah, and I think that any time you go into the game like that and you're playing a little hard ball, you get them down there in the box. But I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that they were in the box that way, but at the end of the day, we've had those opportunities before and we hadn't made them. Today, we make them. [Andre] Holmes catches a cross across the field like that; he made a couple of them actually today. Rivera makes a couple plays in the hole. We said it last night in the meeting that somebody had to step up and make a couple of plays and I felt like today there was a bunch of guys that stepped up – you see Antonio, you see Woodson, you see Rivera. Again, I thought that group protected good up front too, which was key."
Q: How was Rivera able to get open so often?
Coach Sparano: "I don't know. I have to look at the tape a little bit, but that's a question for them, not me. At the end of the day, we were able to run the ball, run him in the holes a little bit. There was some extension plays. Derek skated to his left on one. There was a little pressure that came underneath. He skated to his left. Mike uncovered in the middle of the field and Derek threw the ball to him that way. There was a couple of plays there where Derek did a good job of moving in the pocket and they did a good job of working together with one another, which we've said is starting to happen. This thing with him and Rivera a little bit, him and James Jones a little bit. That's starting to happen. These are all good things for the future here. It ended up being big plays today."
*QB DEREK CARR *
Q: What was it like for a team that hasn't put together back-to-back touchdown drives all season to do it in this game?
Carr: "Oh, man, it was nice. It was real nice. I know the kind of talent we have, I know the kind of team we have. Like I said before, we haven't put it together, obviously, throughout the season, we're young, we're continuing to work hard and listen to our coaches and the game plan and knowing it in and out. I felt for the first time there wasn't the little detailed mistakes that just ruined it. Obviously there are still mistakes, but I think that there was just so much attention to the detail that we just went out and did our job. That's all you have to do is go out and do your job, they'll win some plays, we'll win some plays, but hopefully we can just execute at a higher level. I think we finally did that to obviously the best we have."
Q: With the two scoring drives in the second half, is that about as well as it has clicked for you in the offense this season?
Carr: "As a whole, yeah absolutely. Obviously, we went down twice and scored. For me, I felt, I hate using the word comfortable, I don't like comfortable, but I felt like I've grown and I felt like the game is slowing down, week by week. There's going to be low and high moments as a rookie player, but I'm just trying to limit those low ones as much as I can. To say that that's the best I clicked, I've said it before and I don't ever feel like I'm ever in a zone or this, I just try and say, 'OK, what play do I have? What do I know that they play, coverage wise or pressure wise, down in distance, our formation, our splits?' All those things, that's what's going through my head. I think that we all just executed and did our job to be honest, and it was nice to see. I'm really happy for our coaches. I'm happy for our coaches that all their hard work and extra hours are paying off."
Q: How long has that Donald Penn play been in the works?
Carr:"Man, it's been a couple weeks. It's been a couple weeks, and he was so open. I just like threw it so easy, I just said, 'Don't drop it.' And then he got mad at me of course because he got hit, he wanted me to know that he has hands and to throw it harder next time."
Q: How much would you say that the loss last week played into your growth?
Carr:"I mean even last week, there were some good things that I hadn't done all year that I did in that game. Manipulating zone coverage by just a shoulder tilt or eyes and throwing it another place or knowing the coverage and the backers responsibility and looking this way and practically not looking, looking at the last second to throw another ball, having that kind of trust and faith. So I've been growing in those kind of things, protection calls, handling more, just really trying to progress. It's not just going to happen overnight obviously. There are going to be bumps in the road here and there, and there always will be. That's the craziness of this game obviously. But, I can just go out and like I said, I just work my tail off and whatever the result is, I know I gave it everything I have."
Q: What was it about the defense that Mychal Rivera was so open so many times?
Carr:"Well, you've got to give him credit that he made a lot of great catches and contested ones. There was one where they covered him and he did a great job for me of stopping, that deeper one, did a great job. He saw the guy running with him, I was trying to wave to him. I don't even know if he saw me, but he did a great job. That's just our chemistry building. He understands the coverage, he understood what the guy was doing, so he knew if he stopped I could pin it on him and make a play. So, they did a good job but obviously 'Mike' just made a lot of plays. That one, the big third down, it was a huge third down where we hit him across the middle, if I remember correctly it was like a zone coverage, they brought a pressure and I stepped up in the pocket and I just saw him open. I couldn't really see exactly how it happened but I just think he did a good job of finding the window."
Q: You had a lot of time back there to throw. What can you say about the offensive line's play tonight?
Carr:"I told them I was like, 'Wherever we have to go to dinner. You guys deserve so much.' I'm a little worried about that one, but, I think my wife is more worried than I am especially with Christmas around the corner. But, they deserve so much credit. They've done a great job all year and we work really hard at our protection plan. We work really hard at trying to have no sacks and those things. They work their tails off. I kept telling them during the game, 'Guys, I'm literally just standing back here. This is awesome. You're doing a great job, please keep it up.' Because we all know in this league, that edge closes fast, and it was closing fast, but then again our receivers were doing a great job of getting open. It all works hand in hand, running backs picking up blitzes, tight ends picking up blitzes. We ask our tight ends to do a lot. [Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson] 'Oly' says it all the time, those tight ends have a huge responsibility. They've got to know pass game, run game, protections, they've got to know everything and they did a great job also."
Q: Can you talk about the mismatch of Marcel Reece and Dan Skuta that you were taking advantage of throughout the game?
Carr:"Yeah, Marcel [Reece], he's a fullback. I like to say that. He really is a wide receiver, he just happened to have a few more cheeseburgers I guess. I'm just kidding, I'm giving him a hard time because he played so good. He's just a really good mismatch to have, very valuable to us because he's smart. He knows the coverage. He sees the coverage and he's like having another quarterback on the field. If I see something and I want to say something, I don't even need to say it because he knows and it's really nice to have him. When you combine that with just his overall talent, I mean the guy is, what is he, 250 and runs as fast as he does, he's a freak. The guy is amazing. I'm glad he's on my team."
Q: Was this your best game?
Carr:"I don't know, I have got to watch the film. To be honest, even last week, even though we had two picks, just making calls and doing things, it was one of, not my better games obviously, we lost, but it wasn't one of my worst ones. So, I have to watch the film, make sure my eyes were right, make sure my feet were right, because those little things, if I'm late on a ball, those little things matter, especially come down to the playoff time and all those things. I've got to see, but it felt good."
Q: Those middle seam kind of passes, just the look that they were giving you?
Carr: "Yes. Yeah, exactly, yes. Yeah, and it just depends on the coverage. Some teams play certain coverages versus our tighter formations and spread formations and so sometimes those, sometimes we don't even have those plays in the playbook because based on certain coverages you don't even want that because it's bad news written all over it. So, it just depends on what certain teams do."
Q: So some of those plays were not in the playbook?
Carr:"No, no, they're in the playbook. I'm sorry, for the game plan, against a certain team."
Q: Were those plays in the game plan?
Carr:"They were this week. Yeah, they were this week and there was actually another one, 'Oly,' man, I've got to give him so much credit because he needs it, because he drew up one on the sideline. We hit Andre [Holmes] on a huge one and he just said, 'Hey, this is what we're going to do. This is how we're going to do it.' We're like, 'OK, let's go do it.' Wide open. It was one of those deep crossing routes, Andre caught it and he went out of bounds on our sideline. 'Oly' just said, 'Hey, let's do this. They're playing a certain way. Let's do it this way to get Andre open.' So I mean 'Oly,' he deserves a lot of credit for a lot of what went on today."
Q: What was your conversation with Colin Kaepernick like after the game?
Carr: "I said I've known 'Kap,' I don't really know him, that was the first time we've actually talked at length I guess. So I just wanted to talk to him a little bit. Obviously what I said and what he said, I'll keep most of it between us, but just encouraging each other, back and forth, both of us. Just encouraging each other, we're both young players. Hopefully we'll both be around a long time, playing against each other and things like that. It was really encouragement for both of us. This league is hard, obviously I've learned that my first year. This league is really hard so I just try and reach out to as many guys, to encourage as many guys as I can and he was doing the same."
RB LATAVIUS MURRAY
Q: How did this one feel?
Murray: "This one felt great, we knew it was a big game coming in and it really felt good to go out there, especially against the 49ers – crosstown rival – and pull it off. The energy was fantastic. The fans were great. When you talk about the way everybody stepped up today, that's how it's supposed to be."* *
Q: Does this show how good this team can be?
Murray:"Yeah, I definitely think we have a group of good guys on this team, a group of good guys that can play. When we can go out there and play the way we know how to like we did today, that type of outcome happens."
Q: You were there all four quarters today. What made the offense so successful?
Murray: "When you talk about the way Derek [Carr] played, Marcel [Reece], Mychal [Rivera] – those guys played fantastic. The line – we had a little pound and run game going as well, so I think we were mixing it up and throwing the ball down the field pretty good. When you mix it in like that, you have success. Like I said, the way Derek played, it was on point."
Q: Justin Tuck said the offensive line deserved the game ball today. Do you agree?
Murray:"Without a doubt. It makes it easier on Derek. It makes it easier on the running back. When you have that kind of trust and everybody's on the same page, it's definitely a good thing and good things happen when they play the way they did today."
T DONALD PENN
Q: For you guys to take the ball 80 yards back to back, and put the ball in the end zone both times, that must have felt as good as it's felt all year.
Penn:"To me, it feels good but I still have a sick taste in the back of my mouth because it's like, why can't we do that more often? Why can't we do that on a more consistent basis? That's where I want to get to, and then I'll be satisfied. But, I am happy about the win and I'm happy about the way my teammates came out and played their butts off. I want to get to that consistency level where we're doing that all the time, week in and week out. We have to keep working and we'll get there. It's great to win, especially against a rival."
Q: How was the atmosphere out there?
Penn:"It was live. It was loud. It was one of those football atmospheres that you want to play in. It doesn't get any better than that. It was a great atmosphere and the Raider Nation still came out believing in us and stuck with us. This is unbelievable. I'm happy to get this win."
Q: Take me through your touchdown in the first half.
Penn:"It's a play that Oly [offensive coordinator Greg Olson], like I was telling them, Oly did that play for me in Tampa a couple years ago, and I actually scored it the first time against San Francisco in San Francisco a couple years ago. It's a play I talked to him about all year and he finally put it in a couple weeks ago. It was a perfect call. I was kind of nervous because [DT] Justin Smith was there last time I played, so I thought he was going to know, but it was a great play. It could've been a better pass from my quarterback, but I'm not going to say anything. I got it in there and it just feels good to help our team win. Our team's been working hard, our coaches have been working hard, players are working hard. Our season isn't happening the way we want it to, but we're still fighting. We still have three more and we're going to keep fighting."
TE MYCHAL RIVERA
Q: What does it mean for you to get this kind of a win? You had to be thinking about playing against the 49ers all week.
Rivera:"It's huge. When the schedule came out, that was one date that I put my finger on and circled the date. We were ready to play today. These guys are right across that bridge. We go to San Francisco every day to eat, fancy food and stuff, so we had to get that win."
Q: Did you surprise yourself with the numbers you put up today?
Rivera:"I'm just happy that the results came. I'm happy we got the win as a team. We fight real hard, and last week what we put on film, that's not us. We came out today and showed what we are."
Q: Is it frustrating to wonder why you haven't been able to play like this all season long?
Rivera: "Of course it's frustrating. You want to play that well every game, but what we can do is look forward and try to build on this game and try to recreate what we did today every single game."
Q: What would you say about QB Derek Carr today? He showed patience in the pocket and found you. You were his guy today.
Rivera:"Awesome, awesome. Derek Carr was awesome. Like I say, he grows every day and he's going to be a great quarterback in this league."
Q: DT Antonio Smith talked about this whole week kind of getting the feeling of what the whole 'Battle of the Bay' is about. Did you feel that coming into the game?
Rivera:"Yeah, this is a heavyweight fight. Just like when you're in high school and you have the hometown rivalry. Same thing. Battle of the Bay."
Q: Did you feel Raider Nation out there?
Rivera:"Oh man, that fan base out there, Raider Nation, is incredible. No other fan base like it."
LB KHALIL MACK
Q: It must have been tough to have the confidence after last week to do it this week.
Mack:"This team, it's a solid foundation. We have some great leaders and we're going to keep putting the petal to the metal, and come in every week and giving it our all. That doesn't stop."
Q: Is this the best your pass rush has been as a team?
Mack:"Yeah. Yeah, no doubt. We have to continue to get better."
Q: Why was it so much better today than it had been?
Mack:"They had to pass the ball. The quarterback had to take some time in the pocket and make a decision, and we didn't try to give him too much time."
Q: Was it tough to chase him around? He's pretty fast.
Mack: "He's pretty solid. He's a pretty solid player. He's a slippery guy. We got the job done."
DL ANTONIO SMITH
Q: Coach Sparano was emphasizing that you needed to get more pressure from your four-man rush. Today you got incredible pressure with just the front four. What was the difference?
Smith: "We got a chance to pass rush. That's it. If you a film watcher, if you know the game, you'll see the reason why we ain't been getting a lot of sacks. A lot of teams come in and they quick-pass the ball – throw screens and different things like that. You hardly ever get a chance to pass rush on first and second down. But on third down, we've always ahd good pressure on quarterbacks on third down. Today we got to get a lot of third downs. Today we got a lot of quarterback drop-back passes. Whenever you have that, that's when your pass rush is eating."
Q: Colin Kaepernick looked like he was really getting frustrated. Did you get the sense that you were getting into his head a little bit?
Smith: "Definitely. Whenever you get pressure on the quarterback, you know you're in his head. I think early on, he was having success breaking out of the pocket and making some big runs, so that kind of gave him confidence. But once we kind of closed the front down and stopped him from breaking open the middle, it just made it that much easier to get him down."
Q: Is this win more satisfying than the Kansas City win because you played so well on both sides of the ball from start to finish?
Smith:"It was the 'Battle of the Bay' baby. You know it's more satisfying. I think this week it was shown to us, it was preached to us just how important this game was. I think this week, more and more of us became true Raiders, you know what I'm saying – knowing what the heritage is about; knowing what a Raider is; knowing what this game was about; knowing how important it was to this city."
DE JUSTIN TUCK
Q: Did you have extra motivation for this one?
Tuck:"I don't know if we needed any motivation coming into this one. You have to respect those guys over there. That organization, the 49ers, and all they bring to the table, they bring the best out of you. Teams like that bring the best out of you. That worked for us today. We just came in here, we were focused and we didn't let all the hype of this rivalry and the 'Battle of the Bay' get to us, we just came working. That's what it was. Things started to roll our way and we got some confidence, and we kind of fed off of that crazy crowd out there today. What it was is what you see."
Q: How were you able to get so much pressure on QB Colin Kaepernick?
Tuck:"Collective effort. We were able to stop the run in a lot of situations and that put them in some third-and-long situations. We haven't had enough of those situations. When we get those types of situations – I know I'm saying 'situations' a lot. When you get those types of games you can pin your ears back. We feel as though our front four can play with the best of them in those situations, so for us it always starts with stopping the run and getting them in those third-and-long situations and pinning our ears back. We were able to do that today."
Q: It looked like you guys were having a lot of fun out there. We only saw that with the Kansas City game. Why did it only come together for two games?
Tuck: "We're learning. We have a great mixture of old guys and young guys on this team, but we're learning how to win together. Those two games just happened to be two games where we put it together, so hopefully we continue to grow here. Me being the old guy that I am, the first thing that comes to my mind after a win – against Kansas City we went to St. Louis and didn't play anywhere near our style of football – so hopefully we learn from that and are able to go to Kansas City next week and put out a good effort."
Q: QB Colin Kaepernick gained some yards on the ground, but for the most part you guys kept him bottled up. How were you able to do that?
Tuck:"Whenever you have a guy like that, you have to have your back end playing great because there's going to be a lot of situations where he can prolong the play with his legs. They have to plaster on the back end and cover for longer than normal. I thought they did a good job of that. I thought our coaching staff did a good job of putting us in fronts and certain situations up front to kind of cloud his read a little bit as far as where he wanted to take off from. After that, guys just hustled to him. We had a lot of guys going to the ball, we had a lot of guys with vision on him throughout the game because he's a dynamic players in all facets of the game, so you definitely have to pay a lot of attention to him. I thought we did pretty good at that today."
S CHARLES WOODSON
Q: Can you talk about the four-man pass rush? It seemed like they made the big difference for you guys defensively.
Woodson:"Those guys got after it. That's really what we expected for those guys to do and today they came in ready and prepared, and they got after him."
Q: How satisfying is this, coming as it did after the season's low point last week?
Woodson:"It was great for us to come off of the bye week and perform the way we did today. (*laughter) *Being able to bounce back from the way that we felt last week was big for us. To win this game, the Battle of the Bay, against your crosstown rivals, it was a big win for us. It was great for us to get back on this side of it. We feel good about it. But as Coach [Sparano] said after the game, we felt one way last week, another way this week and it will be up to us to continue this feeling."
Q: Was it pretty electric out there?
Woodson:"It was great, man. It's the way you expect this game to be. Our crowd was in it from the jump and a lot of that was because of what we did out there on the field – coming out early, getting a turnover, the offense being able to drive the ball down the field, put points up. It was a great game from start to finish and it was great for the fans."
Q: You got your 59th interception in the fourth quarter. How did you feel out there?
Woodson:"I really don't know. It felt good out there today. Except for last week, I've felt good all season. I just keep on rolling. Contrary to how you feel, I wasn't upset about feeling my age last week. I was just upset for having a bad game. Today, we rebounded. As long as I can see the team getting better, moving in the right direction, and I continue to feel good, who knows?"
Q: What was it like sitting on the sidelines having to watch your offense go back-to-back long drives?
Woodson:"That was great, man. It felt good and it felt right for those guys to go out there and just put drives together. I think we do a great balance of some runs here, some passes there. I thought Derek [Carr] did a great job in the pocket, out of the pocket, stepping up in the pocket, making throws. His receivers coming out of routes at times, catching balls for him. I think that momentum carried us throughout the game. We got that crowd into it and it was fun, and I think everybody on the team feels that way."
Q: What did you see on tape that led to so much success against Kaepernick today?
Woodson: "I think it was just about us. It was about us coming back after a poor effort by a group – all of us – last week, and really saying this week that we didn't want to come out that way again. It was all about what this team did. It was all about our approach to it and we went out there and took care of business."