Johnathan Abram: Raiders chasing perfection, not Chiefs, after beating champs

HENDERSON, Nev. -- When you're losing, you're a loudmouth. But when you're winning? It's called loquacious.

Leave it to Johnathan Abram, the Las Vegas Raiders' oh-so verbose safety, to break down where the team is when asked if, after years of chasing Kansas City, they got over a certain hump.

"No," Abram snapped. "We're not chasing anybody. We're chasing perfection, honestly. That's the only thing we're chasing.

"If we continue to do that, we'll end up where we want to be at the end of the season. That's holding up the Lombardi Trophy."

Lofty goals, right? Especially for a team that has had all of one winning season and playoff appearance since 2002. But this is indeed where the Raiders are mentally after handing the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs a 40-32 loss Sunday, Kansas City's first setback since last Nov. 10.

At Arrowhead Stadium. Where Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had never played outside of December or January. And where Carr had never won since being drafted in 2014.

Yes, confidence is high for the Raiders, who ended a two-game losing streak to improve to 3-2 heading into their bye week, which comes at a great time as far as injuries go.

Consider: the Raiders regained the services of Pro Bowl right tackle Trent Brown, who last played in the first series of the season opener at Carolina, and rookie receiver Henry Ruggs III, who had missed the previous two games but caught two passes for 118 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown.

Plus, another week off should help the aching shoulder of defensive tackle Maliek Collins heal while left guard Richie Incognito, on injured reserve since injuring an Achilles in Week 2, is eligible to begin practicing after the bye. Backup quarterback Marcus Mariota is also eligible to return this week.

Not that Mariota is coming to take Carr's job. Not when Carr outplayed the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes by passing for 347 yards while completing 22 of 31 attempts with three touchdowns and an interception and converting a pair of clutch fourth-and-1 situations on QB sneaks.

"It's good to have effort, it's good to play hard, it's good to have football character but without doing your job, it's really just a good pat on the back," said Carr, who presided over a team meeting on accountability early in the week. "We are in a production-oriented business where we have to win football games. We're sitting there, we lose two. We lose against the Patriots, we lose against the Bills and now the world champions are staring you in the face ... you sit there and you're like, 'What better opportunity?'

"We've been punched in the mouth. What better opportunity to see what this team is made out of?"

In saying the "football character on this team is legit," Carr credited Raiders coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock for building said roster.

"[They] have done a job of gathering people that aren't just good football players but they're people who are 100%, no matter what the circumstance is, going to play their heart out and play good football and do their job. I think that was a perfect sign of what kind of team we have," Carr said.

Led by Carr, it was an offense that could trade blows with the high-powered Chiefs.

"We tried to be aggressive," Gruden said. "We threw down the field today, and some of the Pro Football Focus statisticians will have to scratch their heads because they are going to have to figure out if he really did that."

Defensively, it was a unit that limited Mahomes to punt, punt, punt and an interception on the Chiefs' first four possessions of the second half, limited him to a career-low 51.1 completion percentage and helped hand Mahomes his worst margin of defeat, eight points.

"I hope we gain confidence," Gruden said.

"We got Tom Brady coming in here [after the bye]. We have seen Drew Brees. We have seen Cam Newton. We have seen one of the hottest quarterbacks in [Josh] Allen, now we have seen Mahomes. We have already seen [Teddy] Bridgewater. We need to get healthy. We need to stay focused and be true to ourselves. We can still get better. We are going to have to get better if we are going to stay in the hunt."

And as the, yes, loquacious Abram said, the only people the Raiders need to believe in them are, well, themselves.

"We don't care what the fans think," said Abram, who had five tackles and a pass defensed. "We worry about the guys in the locker room. And as far as the defense, we worry about the 11 guys that's out there ... playing as one unit. We do it in spurts so we talked about, let's put it together and do it for four quarters."

The question, then, after winning at Arrowhead Stadium is can they put it together for 11 games after the bye?