MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Oakland Raiders used cryotherapy during their week-long Florida stay, and the jokes were that their offense already was in a deep freeze.
But in a 27-24 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night, before a national TV audience, the offense was thawed out. And then some.
Derek Carr took deep shots, completing 21 of 30 throws for 300 yards and a touchdown, Marshawn Lynch pounded the ball for 57 yards on 14 carries and had two touchdown runs (from near and far), the offense line provided the appropriate cover and Amari Cooper, on the "hands team," recovered an onside kicks with 91 seconds to go.
Maybe the Raiders should invest in cryotherapy for posterity.
What it means: Despite coming into the game having lost five of their previous six games, the Raiders suddenly are in second place in the AFC West at 4-5, two games behind the Kansas City Chiefs with a game in hand against them. And when you look at it from another point of view, the Raiders have won two of their past three, so there's something to feel good about. Yeah, you could say the Raiders found their mojo, as coach Jack Del Rio would say. They have a shot, and after a poor first half of the season, that's really all they can ask for at this point.
"Winning helps, you got to win," Del Rio said. "The guys have been great. We believe we have a good team. We understand the first half [of the season] didn't go the way we wanted, and we started the second half with a big road win. So, we'll travel back and get a little break this week. We'll dig in a little bit to some self-scouting ... then we'll have a little break and get back at it the following week."
What I liked: Carr took deep shots and gave the Raiders and their fans a glimpse of last year's high-powered attack. At halftime, Carr was 9-of-11 for 205 yards and a touchdown on passes thrown more than 10 yards downfield, his most such completions in a game this season. And get this: Johnny Holton entered the game with one catch for a 64-yard touchdown, and his lone catch in Miami was for a 44-yard score.
"When he gets in the game people are pointing him out, [saying] 'The fast guy is in,' and you can see them pointing and coaches are yelling and all those things," Carr said of Holton, who is from the Miami area. "Honestly, I think he had 110 people at the game. I think when a guy who doesn't play a lot is able to score a touchdown in your hometown, all those things, Sunday night prime-time football, the story should be all about him, because ... for him to come home in front of his family, his friends, his buddies and be able to score a touchdown on prime time, that's a pretty cool story."
What I didn't like: Needing a stop after taking a 20-9 lead, the Raiders' defense, which had just authored a three-and-out, could not get a stop. Instead, the Raiders allowed the Dolphins to march 75 yards in seven plays and 2 minutes, 49 seconds, the big play a 42-yard run by Kenyan Drake. It was deflating, to be sure, but it was not as back-breaking as it could have been. Still, it would have been nice to see the defense answer Lynch's vintage 22-yard touchdown run.
"I was getting frustrated but at the end of the day, it's a team game -- team ball -- and we came out with the win," said Khalil Mack. "This is a good one for us to get going into the bye week, so we can get ready for another good team."
Fantasy fallout: Yeah, this is what the Raiders expected when they signed Jared Cook to be a mismatch as a pass-catching tight end. Cook had his sixth career 100-yard receiving game, his second this season for Oakland, as he had eight catches for 126 yards. His career high of 169 yards receiving came for the Tennessee Titans against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16 of the 2011 season.
"It's fun, that's how football is supposed to be when you can open up the offense, and make plays and stay on the field," Cook said. "Staying on the field helps the whole team out. When you're able to do that, keeping the chains moving, that just helps everybody out, helps everybody get more plays."
What was he thinking? After giving up a strip sack to Ndamukong Suh early in the fourth quarter, right tackle Marshall Newhouse picked up the ball and rumbled upfield. But he lost the ball when he got hit at midfield and Miami recovered. Had Newhouse simply fallen on the ball, Oakland could have simply punted and pinned Miami near its end zone. "I don't even really think he was thinking first down," Del Rio said with a laugh. "He was thinking, 'I'm going score.' That's what those big guys do. We try to get them to think about just locking up the ball and protecting it, but they can't help it. They're going for the end zone." Marshall tweeted out a photo of himself mid-air and vertical.
What's next: After nine games in nine weeks, the Raiders enjoy their bye week. But their eyes will be on the schedule as they play in Mexico City next, technically a home game, against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (6-2) at Estadio Azteca on Nov. 19.