Oakland Raiders Continue Forging Path to Prime Playoff Seed with Win on MNF

On two weeks' rest in a quasi-home game against a mediocre-despite-its-record opponent, the Oakland Raiders did not play well Monday night in Mexico City.

Star wide receiver Amari Cooper had just two catches for 14 yards through three quarters. His fellow starting wideout, Michael Crabtree, produced five yards of offense on seven targets. Top back Latavius Murray had just 33 yards on 12 carries. Raiders receivers dropped several Derek Carr passes, and Carr threw a rotten second-half interception.

And yet the Raiders won, 27-20.

Believe it or not, that's a good sign. Because in the past, a performance like this would have inevitably resulted in an Oakland loss. The Raiders hardly won at all between 2003 and 2015, and they almost never won when they underperformed.

Against the Houston Texans, they underperformed. A team that wins by lighting up the scoreboard—they had scored 30 points or more in each of their last three games, all wins—wasn't crisp or efficient on offense. As a result, it trailed an equally inefficient team by seven points with less than 11 minutes remaining.

In that situation, the 2006 Raiders would have been packing up equipment on the sideline. The 2009 Raiders would have been warming up the buses. The 2012 Raiders would have been texting their wives reminders not to delete that week's episode of Breaking Bad.

Those teams just didn't have it. They didn't possess the talent or the ability to persevere like this one does.

"It wasn't one of our cleaner games in terms of execution throughout, but we showed tremendous grit," Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said during his postgame press conference. "We got an opportunity late in the game to seize control and did, and made the plays we needed to make to get a hard-earned win."

Don't get me wrong: In order to win in January, the Raiders will need cleaner games. In order to take care of ...

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