Wins haven't come easy for the Oakland Raiders this year, but they've still been winning. Through 11 weeks of the 2016 NFL campaign, the Raiders already have nine wins with their latest one coming on Sunday in another come-from-behind victory.
The team's 35-32 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday locked up the team's first winning season since 2002, the same year they lost the Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While it is certainly an accomplishment for a franchise that has struggled to find something to cheer about for 14 years, the players know there is still a lot of work to do.
"We still have a long way ahead of us," left tackle Donald Penn said after beating the Panthers. "We haven't played our best football yet. We're just going to try to keep stacking these wins, add them up at the end of the season."
The Raiders seemingly found their franchise quarterback when they drafted quarterback Derek Carr in the second round of the 2014 draft and he continues to be a key reason to the Raiders recent success. Carr has helped lead the team with 10 career drives in the fourth quarter to tie or win the game, including five this season. The third-year quarterback is happy to help give Raider Nation a winning season after so many years of support with a struggling product on the field.
"I really feel like that's more for the fans," Carr said. "Obviously, we can't celebrate anything yet, but I'm happy for my fans. I know the heartache that they've had. Trust me, I've been a part of that heartache. I've given them heartaches during games in my three years, but hopefully we've given them a lot of happy moments.
"Winning 9 games, having a winning record for the first time in 14 years, I'm so happy for our fans because I know how much joy that brings to our city, I know how much life that brings to the city of Oakland. Ant that's what I'm happy about. You guys know me, I love to make other people's day and I'm glad to get to go home happy."
The Raiders 9-2 record has the team sitting tied atop the AFC with the New England Patriots and in a position to have the team making a postseason push for something to celebrate in January, or even February.