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After spending the week answering questions about emails and personal days, the Las Vegas Raiders were anxious to scroll past the clickbait and get back on the field. The result? A 34-24 win over the division-rival Broncos, and Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr noticed his team was more focused, thanks in part to the Gruden controversy.
“It for sure brought us closer,” Carr said, referring to Gruden’s Monday night resignation.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) October 18, 2021
Less than a week after head coach Jon Gruden stepped down due to decade-old emails that pushed all the hot-button topics — race, misogyny, sexual orientation and everything in between — Vegas was seeking a way to shift the focus from on-screen to on-field.
“We needed a win bad this week,’’ Carr said following the game. “Sometimes when you get punched in the gut, it’s hard to bounce back. But we were able to do it.’’
Carr said the turmoil throughout the week didn’t just bring the team closer. It also seemed to increase their preparation and execution.
“If anything, it heightened our intensity. It heightened our focus.”
Defensive lineman Maxx Crosby, who recorded three sacks, noted the resiliency his teammates showed not just Sunday, but throughout the tumultuous days prior.
“These guys we have in this building are resilient, from the coaching staff to the players to the trainers, everybody has a positive outlook on this organization,” said Crosby.
“Everyone’s talking, ‘What are the Raiders going to do? Is the season over?’ We’ve heard all of it. For us to have a great week of practice and go out there and play good football, it’s a testament to all these guys in the locker room.”
After leaving Denver with a win, the newly-focused and resilient Raiders find themselves tied with the Chargers atop the AFC West at 4-2.