The Raiders have been desperate to find a pass rush since trading away Khalil Mack before last season.
It turns out all they needed was the motivation of a reunion with their old friend and a trip across the ocean to find it.
“All we hear about is their pass rush every day,” Oakland coach Jon Gruden said after the team’s 24-21 victory over the Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. “It’s great to talk about ours.”
The Raiders’ defense recorded five sacks. That pressure contributed to two Chicago interceptions. marking the first time the Raiders had at least three sacks and two interceptions in a game since Week 14 of 2014 against San Francisco.
Oakland only had five sacks on the season entering Sunday’s game.
For the second straight week, the defense came up with an interception in the closing minutes to preserve the victory against an opponent looking to tie or take the lead.
Erik Harris ran his interception back for a late touchdown last week. It was Gareon Conley’s turn on Sunday. He secured a catch deep along the sideline on a throw Chase Daniel floated up to nobody in particular.
“We made a check and at the end they made a better play,” Daniel said. “The whole game they were pretty tight on our outside receivers, and I’m not even sure who intercepted, but the corner who really I thought was supposed to have Javon Williams really fell off. I saw the nickel falling off … but that’s just completely on me.”
The pressure the Raiders’ defense was able to generate on Daniel was a big reason for his struggles.
Benson Mayowa recorded a sack to increase his team-leading total to 4.5 despite missing last week’s game. Rookie Maxx Crosby got the first sack of his career. Mo Hurst got to Daniel twice.
“We got them behind in the sticks a couple of times,” Gruden said of the sudden emergence of a pass rush. “(We’ve got some) good young players.”
According to Next Gen Stats, Mayowa pressured Daniel eight times on just 24 pass rushes. It was the most pressures in a game by a Raider in the past two seasons.
Mayowa was 3.53 yards away from Daniel on average at the time the ball was released, much better than the league average of 4.49.
Mack finished at 5.76 on Sunday. He did not record a sack.
The Raiders have won back-to-back games for the first time since December 2017.
It’s the first time Gruden has won consecutive games since a four-game winning streak with the Buccaneers in 2008.
Oakland was missing its top wide receiver as Tyrell Williams was officially inactive on Sunday.
He was joined on the sidelines by fellow receivers J.J. Nelson and Dwayne Harris, a key special teamer.
Offensive linemen Gabe Jackson and Brandon Parker also did not dress, along with rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
Defensive end Arden Key left the game with an injury. Gruden did not provide an update on his status after the game.