After Week 12, the Oakland Raiders found themselves at 9-2, still atop the AFC West, and eager to continue their progression. The Silver and Black pulled off a comeback victory against the Carolina Panthers last Sunday, as quarterback Derek Carr powered through an injured finger on his throwing hand to come up clutch in the fourth quarter once again.
The Raiders signal-caller added another positive to his rapidly growing MVP-candidate resume and has the team in position to make the playoffs. The team won't be content until the ultimate goal is accomplished and it's aware that there's a lot of work left.
Heading into the team's Week 13 matchup with the Buffalo Bills, here's a look back at the Week That Was.
**Head Coach Jack Del Rio stopped by The Silver & Black Show for his weekly recap with 95.7 The Game's Chris Townsend.
**Linebacker Bruce Irvin appeared on The Silver & Black Show to talk with Nicole Zaloumis about his leadership on the team.
Five Questions Answered In The Oakland Raiders Week 12 Win Over The Carolina Panthers
Heading into the Oakland Raiders Week 12 matchup with the Carolina Panthers, we posed five questions that we were hoping to have answered Sunday afternoon at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Although the Silver and Black made it interesting down the stretch, Derek Carr and the Raiders handled business, and beat the Panthers 35-32.
The Raiders have now won five games in a row – and secured their first winning season in 14 years – so now that the clash with Carolina is squarely in the rearview mirror, let's find out if our questions were answered.
Raiders Teammates Recount Khalil Mack's "Unbelievable" Week 12 Effort
It was just minutes after the Oakland Raiders had beaten the Carolina Panthers, and Jihad Ward sat quietly at his locker.
With his eye black smeared all over his cheeks, and his ankles still taped, the rookie defensive end sat silently, unable to verbalize what he had just seen transpire over the past four quarters.
Over the past three hours, Ward had watched a defensive clinic, and the teacher of the class was none other than his teammate Khalil Mack.
Mack ran wild against the Carolina Panthers en route to the Raiders 35-32 win, showcasing his versatility all afternoon long, securing his first career interception in the waning moments of the first half, and then cementing the Raiders ninth win of the season with a strip sack of Cam Newton.
In short, the Raiders dynamic edge rusher was dominant Sunday afternoon, so dominant in fact, that his rookie teammate had a hard time describing the type of feat he had just witnessed.
Oakland Raiders Power Rankings: Week 13
For the Oakland Raiders, the idea of reaching the playoffs is becoming more of a possibility each week. General Manager Reggie McKenzie has constructed a roster that fits Head Coach Jack Del Rio's mold from top to bottom, and their leadership has this team playing its best football in over a decade. On Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, the Silver and Black clinched their first winning-season in 14 years, dating back to 2002 when the team went to Super Bowl XXXVII, eventually falling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This group of young players is hungry and eager to win, and will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. Del Rio has emphasized since the start of the 2016 season that last year the Raiders learned how to compete, but this year the team is understanding how to win, and it's doing just that. At 9-2, the Raiders lead the AFC West and are currently riding a five-game winning-streak.
The team has been successful this season in large part to the play of third-year quarterback Derek Carr, who has solidified himself in this season's MVP debate. No. 4 has led the Raiders to five game-winning drives this season, and most recently led a comeback win against the Panthers, despite suffering a finger injury in the third quarter.
With the Raiders surging in the playoff picture, let's take a look at the Week 12 Power Rankings list, brought to you by NFL Extra Points.
Three Matchups We Watched In The Raiders Week 12 Win Over The Carolina Panthers
Before the Oakland Raiders returned to the friendly confines of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for their clash with the Carolina Panthers, we highlighted three matchups that would be critical in determining the Week 12 showdown.
After surrendering a 24-7 lead, the Silver and Black responded in a big way, absorbing the Panthers body blow, and eventually besting Cam Newton and Co., on a 23-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.
With the win, the Raiders are now 9-2 and remain alone atop the AFC West standings heading into a Week 13 home matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
However, before we look ahead to Sunday's game, let's take a look back, and see how our matchups played out.
Defensive End Khalil Mack Named AFC Defensive Player Of The Month
Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack has been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month, the NFL announced Thursday.
Stat line: 12 tackles (11 solo), 4 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 passes defensed, 1 interception and one touchdown, helping the Raiders go 3-0 in November.
· Earned Defensive Player of the Week for his Week 9 performance in the Raiders' win over the Denver Broncos, as well as Week 12 for his performance against the Carolina Panthers.
· Was the only player in the NFL in Week 9 to have 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 1 pass defensed.
· Became the first player since 2009 to have an interception, sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and a touchdown in the same game in Week 12's win over Carolina.
· Recorded his first career touchdown, intercepting a screen pass and returning it 11 yards for the score in the second quarter in Week 12 vs. Carolina.
· Sealed the team's victory with 1:00 remaining when he recorded a sack-fumble, which he recovered, to bring the Panthers' drive to a stop in Week 12.
·Tied for fifth in the NFL with four sacks in November.
·Tied for second in the NFL with two forced fumbles in November.
Longtime Raiders Equipment Manager Showcases Unique Talents To Support My Cause, My Cleats
Adjacent to the Oakland Raiders locker room, nestled cozily in between the dozens of shoulder pads, hundreds of jerseys, and likely thousands of socks, is Bobby Romanski's desk, and for the most part, it very much looks like what you would expect an NFL equipment manager's desk to look like.
There are the commemorative footballs, the stacks of order forms, and even a few Silver and Black helmets from yesteryear, but squarely in the middle of a shelf, right at eye level, something stands out – a white racing helmet.
Romanski looks up at the helmet, points and says with a smile, "inspiration."
You see, not only is Romanski the Raiders equipment manager, he's an artist, and a pretty accomplished one at that.
It began 30 years ago, when Romanski's brother got an airbrushing kit for his 13th birthday; however, the kit just sat, dormant and collecting dust until one day when young Bobby picked it up, and just like that, a life-long passion was born.
Key Matchups To Watch: Oakland Raiders vs. Buffalo Bills
The Oakland Raiders home stand comes to an end Sunday afternoon, when the Silver and Black play host to the Buffalo Bills at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
With last week's thrilling win over the Carolina Panthers, the Silver and Black own a 9-2 record, and are still on top of the AFC West standings, clear of the Kansas City Chiefs by one game.
The Bills come into Sunday's matchup with the Silver and Black winners of two in a row themselves, and although they're in third place in the AFC East, Rex Ryan's group still find themselves squarely in the middle of the playoff chase.
The Week 13 clash at the OACC is setting up to be an exciting game that will be won in the trenches, so here are three matchups to keep an eye on during the rumble between the Raiders and Bills.
Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie: "We think we built this thing to last"
And give the man credit, because not once did he deviate from that plan, even when popular opinion might have swayed him otherwise.
In December 2014 – in what now seems like an eternity ago – McKenzie and the Raiders were a team with an interim head coach, a rookie quarterback under center, and were a group that had just won their first game after starting the season 0-10. But still, McKenzie stayed the course, and now that the Raiders are 9-2 and in first place in the AFC West, the Raiders General Manager can look back and realize that 2014 – while frustrating at times – was key to helping the Silver and Black to get to where they are now.
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