Raiders still soaring after Mile High win

Tom Cable got emotional following Sunday's 31-10 win over Denver, and in his excitement the Raiders interim head coach handed out 14 game balls. A day later Cable's spirits were still soaring and for good reason. For one of the few times this season Oakland actually played like an NFL team.

Talking to reporters during his weekly follow-up press conference Monday, Cable gushed about his team's overall performance against the Broncos, praised Oakland's players for fighting through adversity and answered questions about the potential for him to shed the interim tag from his job title and remain the Raiders' head coach beyond the current season.

"I don't think it's fair to get into that right now," Cable said. "The most important thing for me is winning this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. That stuff is going to take care of itself. Truthfully, I'm not worried about it. If we continue the path we're on and continue to move forward, the right things will happen. Worrying about all that other stuff would take away from this team and I'm never going to do that."

Still, Cable believes he has a legitimate shot at becoming the Raiders' permanent head coach -- whatever that means -- if the team has more games like it did Sunday.

"Oh probably," he said. "I probably would be the head coach if we continue to do well. But again, that's not the issue. Right now Kansas City is the issue."

Maybe, but considering what the Raiders have been through this season it's more than OK to bask in the afterglow of what is easily the team's biggest win since a late-season victory over a playoff-bound Washington team in 2005.

Oakland wasn't able to follow up its win over the Redskins and lost the next six games to close out the schedule. Cable believes this year's team has plenty to build off of from the win against Denver but says if the Raiders don't have a similar game against the Chiefs this week it won't matter much.

"In terms of turning the corner and all that, I think you have to answer that next Sunday," Cable said. "To me, you win a game, it makes you feel good. You win two games, now you can start to believe. That's the approach we're taking this week."

Cable handed out gameballs to 13 players and one assistant coach -- Hall of Famer Willie Brown -- following the win over Denver. Brown addressed the players before the game and talked about the rivalry with the Broncos among other things, while Chris Johnson, Gibril Wilson, Rashad Baker, Tommy Kelly, Thomas Howard, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Marquis Cooper, Ashley Lelie, JaMarcus Russell, Justin Fargas, Cooper Carlisle, Zach Miller and Darren McFadden were all honored for their performances against the Broncos.

"It was good for our team because we'd been really pushing, trying to get a breakthrough," Cable said. "Hopefully that's what yesterday was for us. It's a step in the right direction, that's for sure."

Among the other issues Cable addressed:

· McFadden's first of two touchdown runs, a one-yard score around the left end after JaMarcus Russell flipped him the ball on a quick pitchout, came on a play the young rookie convinced his coaches to call.

The touchdown came right after Denver had tied the score at 10-10 and immediately shifted momentum into the Raiders' corner for good.

"That was his call," Cable said. "We didn't have the flip play out of that formation and he said, ‘If you give it to me out of the formation where I can get it, I can get into the end zone.' So we called the formation where he could get the ball."

· Although they sit at 3-8 the Raiders still have a shot at the postseason in the very mediocre AFC West. Oakland was the lone team in the division to win Sunday and sit three games behind front-running Denver, one behind second-place San Diego and two ahead of the Chiefs.

While he doesn't want Oakland to lose focus on their next opponent, Cable said he continues to talk to the team about the possibility of winning the division.

"I think you have to," he said. "I mean, until they say it's not possible, that's why we come to work. So we still go for it."

· Oakland was tagged with 10 penalties and had one drive stall out near the Broncos' goal line in the second quarter yet didn't wilt like similar Raiders teams have in the past when things have gone against them.

"I believe that we're beginning to rely on each other and not worry about the negatives," Cable said. "If I make a mistake then you're going to pick me up. If you do something wrong, I got your back. That's starting to happen. It's that whole team mentality that we've been working for.

· Speaking of penalties, Cable declined to criticize the referees for some of the calls that were made in the game for fear of getting fined by the NFL suits in New York. But his feelings were best summed up when asked what he told linebacker Thomas Howard, who was called for two very questionable personal fouls after a pair of hits on Denver quarterback Jay Cutler.

"Nothing," Cable said. "I felt like his effort was tremendous and that he was in the right and I'll just leave it at that."

· Johnnie Lee Higgins' second punt return for touchdown in two games is a big reason the Raiders were able to beat the Broncos. The touchdown came in the first half of what was then a close game and immediately gave a big spark to Oakland's sidelines.

Cable said Higgins is excelling now that he no longer is returning kickoffs, a job Oakland gave to Justin Miller when they signed him a few weeks back.

"A kickoff returner is like saying, ‘You're going to get in a head-on collision and you're a Volkswagen and here comes a Mack truck,'^" Cable said. "So that may distract you a little bit and you've got to be wired a little different for that one. So I think it's just kind of put his focus a little more tight. But you've got to give a lot of credit to those other 10 guys who have done a good job of blocking it."


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