Each year we're reminded that the NFL season is a war of attrition, and that fact couldn't have been clearer Sunday afternoon at Dignity Health Park.
By the time the Silver and Black flew back to Oakland – with an absolutely vital 24-17 win in their back pocket – the team had lost three defensive backs, and that was in addition to already being down their starting running back, and two of their starting offensive linemen.
The excuses for coming out flat against the Los Angeles Chargers were lined up; the Raiders had lost four in a row, their postseason aspirations were effectively out of their hands, and their dynamic rookie running back was on the shelf dealing with a shoulder injury he'd battled for much of the year.
But, through it all, Head Coach Jon Gruden's team rallied, and handled business, felling Philip Rivers and the Chargers for the second time in 2019.
"We lost a lot of players," said Gruden postgame. "We lost three defensive backs. I'm really proud of Hunter Renfrow, DeAndré Washington, if you really studied the film carefully, or watch the game carefully, Daryl Worley, I think, played four positions. A great win for us."
"It's unbelievable, a win by committee, because we had so many guys go down," added Renfrow who finished his return to game action with seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. "We had so many guys injured. This one was special because it took the whole team, literally all 46 of us, or 47 of us, however many we dress. It was a great one."
Renfrow is right, as the Week 16 win was truly a complete team effort and featured on-field contributions from 45 of the team's 46 active players – the lone exception being backup quarterback DeShone Kizer.
Derek Carr returned to form in the 24-17 win, connecting on 26 of his 30 passes, good for 291 yards, a passing touchdown, and a rushing touchdown – his second of the year – to boot.
And in addition to Carr's efficiency, the Raiders' rushing attack, sans Jacobs, enjoyed another quality day, as Jalen Richard and Washington combined for 96 rushing yards, taking full advantage of their time in the spotlight, and once again illustrating the resolve of the 2019 Raiders.
"This team just really has seen it through, through everything, all the little obstacles, everything going on, we just keep grinding, keep our head [down], and just see the tribulations and trials, and sometimes you just have to see that stuff through, the adversity and all that," Richard explained. "That's what this team has been doing, no matter what, we just come out, still play our game, and still have confidence in ourselves. Coming in, we knew we still had an opportunity. It was going to be in our hands, and somebody else's hands, but we can control what we can control, and we won today, and everybody lost who needed to lose, so we're still in this thing."
As Richard noted, with the win – the Raiders' seventh of the regular season – they're still firmly alive in the AFC postseason race, and now have everything to play for next weekend in Denver, something that seemed far fetched even a week ago.
"I really hope the message is that's the culture that we have now," Carr said. "Everything we've been through – let's not sugarcoat it – we've been through a lot of crap, and it is what it is. Nobody cares at the end of the day, but we have, and to say that we're still playing Week 17 for something, that's unbelievable. That's really a good thing."
The Raiders will work on an amended schedule this week with the Christmas holiday upcoming, but they'll return to the team facility Monday morning knowing that when they take the field Sunday afternoon at Empower Field, they'll be playing for a chance to extend their season.
"I can't believe we're still in it," said a smiling Renfrow. "I'm for real. It's unbelievable, really, if you think about it. We were talking before, we don't have a great chance, but we have a chance. It's kind of like being in poker, and you got the pocket eights. We're excited, and it means nothing if we don't go take care of business next weekend."
Kickoff against the Broncos is scheduled for 1:25 pm PT, and while it remains to be seen which Raiders are able to strap on the pads and go to work in Week 17, it will take another, complete team effort to come away with a win.
But, if we learned anything from Sunday, it's that the 2019 Oakland Raiders won't lack the confidence or the effort to do just that.
Take a look at photos from the Raiders' Week 16 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers at ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park.