The Oakland Raiders didn’t play all that well in Mexico City on Monday night, but they still came away with a 27-20 win over the Houston Texans.
The Raiders’ typically potent offense had just 13 points through three quarters but scored two touchdowns in the final 11 minutes, as Derek Carr found Jamize Olawale and Amari Cooper for touchdown passes of 75 and 35 yards, respectively. Houston, meanwhile, scored just three points in the final 23+ minutes of action.
After the game, some people praised the Raiders, while others criticized the Texans. Tony Gonzalez? He focused on the positives.
“I’m going to go with the Raiders,” Gonzalez said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I think they’re a really good football team, especially in the toughest division in the NFL. That’s what good teams do: They’re going to do whatever it takes (to win). No matter what is going on, they’re going to go out there and find a way to get a good victory. Derek Carr is one of the best quarterbacks paying right now so far this year. This is like a coming out season for him and I think as long as that defense keeps playing well, the Raiders are a team – even though I don’t know who to pick right now coming out of the AFC West – they’re a good football team.”
Indeed, the Raiders are 8-2 for the first time since 2001 and have won four in a row for the first time since 2002, which is the last time they made the playoffs. In fact, Oakland played for a Super Bowl that year, ultimately losing to Tampa Bay. That Raiders squad, led by Rich Gannon, had a high-powered offense.
This one does, too. Oakland, with an average of 27.2 points per game, ranks fifth in the NFL in scoring. Jack Del Rio has shown a lot of faith in his offense and often seems unafraid to gamble on fourth down.
Players love that.
“It says a lot,” Gonzalez said. “It says this guy believes in us. As a player, that’s really what you want. When you’re on offense, so many times when this situation comes up – it’s fourth down or we need a two-point conversion – as a football player (confident) in your ability, you say to yourself, ‘You know what coach? Let’s just go for it.’ And when he gives you the green light and you can deliver, that’s confidence. Going forward, you know you can win any situation. You just have that mentality. Confidence is a big part of being a successful football player. Knowing you can do it before you even step on the field, knowing you’ve been in that situation and you’ve done it before, that’s why I’m saying this team is a dangerous, dangerous football team.
“Do I think they’re as good from a roster standpoint as the Denver Broncos, as the Kansas City Chiefs?” Gonzalez asked. “I don’t think so. But they are a good of a football team because of the confidence they have and the skill players that they do have are lights out. They have ice in their veins. No situation is too big for them, and that’s why I like this team. They’re fun to watch.”
Oakland plays each of its next two games at home, beginning with Carolina (4-6) this Sunday. Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m. ET.