Last season, the Raiders defense ranked 30th in the NFL.
And man, those days seem to be long gone.
The Raiders' 34-24 victory over the Denver Broncos places them at 4-2, leaving them tied for the lead in the AFC West. The win is also Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia's first, becoming the first Raiders head coach to win his debut game since Hue Jackson in 2011.
"We've really been playing with outstanding effort," said Bisaccia. "We don't feel like effort has been an issue at all this year. We've talked about how we have a good team, we have a good team that competes. ... We thought we really had a good practice Wednesday and Thursday, and I think they played today a lot like they practiced this particular past week.
"It was just fun to watch."
Prior to the game, Broncos linebacker Malik Reed said the message in their locker room was that the Raiders would come out and play with high intensity for their new coach, and his prediction proved to be correct, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Through the large majority of the game, the defense played efficient football and couldn't have done much more with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's gameplan.
You need a sack? The Raiders had five.
You need an interception? The Raiders had three.
A pass deflection? They racked up eight.
And don't forget the Solomon Thomas forced fumble recovered by Denzel Perryman. After three turnovers in the first five games of the season, the Raiders defense had four Sunday, equating to their best overall performance of the season.
"I think we limited our explosive plays on defense," Bisaccia said. "We stayed on top a bunch, again with the picks... and the turnovers on defense helped our field position big on offense as well."
The star performance on defense came once again from edge rusher Maxx Crosby, who is in the midst of another stellar season. Crosby – who led the team in sacks the past two seasons – ended the game with six total tackles, three sacks, five quarterback hits and a pass deflection off the line of scrimmage.
"I feel like the rush and the coverage matched; we married it up," said Crosby. "We consistently got after the quarterback from the start of the game. ... Staying consistent, rushing and stay on edges, it helps the guys on the back end. And the guys on the back end have done an amazing job.
"Coach [Gus] Bradley, the way he can lead a group of men is incredible. It's truly special and I feel like we have a great group of guys in this locker room.
Since Bradley has stepped into the locker room, the Raiders defense have become one of the most exciting to watch in the NFL, as they consistently and emphatically make big plays. Through five weeks, the defense ranked among the top 10 in the NFL in sacks, tackles, quarterback hits and pass deflections.
That's a welcome change from years past.
View photos from the Raiders' Week 6 matchup against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High.