The only thing obscuring all the wide smiles after Sunday’s 30-6 victory over the Giants at Allegiant Stadium was the smoke circulating in the Raiders’ locker room.
Players and coaches were given a cigar courtesy of star defensive end Maxx Crosby, who had a feeling a big effort was in store.
Crosby sent the equipment guys out Saturday to purchase more than 100 cigars and had them distributed in the locker room during the game to be ready for what he knew would be a celebration.
“I got them taken care of (Saturday), and we had them ready to rock,” Crosby said. “It was a lot of fun. Everybody knows I’m sober, but I love my cigars, so I wanted the guys to have some fun after the game.”
Wide receiver Davante Adams has been part of many victories, but never one when the team fired up stogies after the game.
He joked that the special circumstances of the week — during which the firing of coach Josh McDaniels seemed to lift a weight off a team that was struggling and lacking energy — called for a unique moment.
“It’s the first time,” Adams said with a smile. “But I’ve never been in a predicament like this, so it was warranted.”
Starting right guard Greg Van Roten, who has been part of seven organizations in more than a decade in the NFL, also has never experienced victory cigars in the locker room.
“That was a first for sure, but it’s very cool,” he said. “You want to see guys let loose and enjoy it. It felt really good to get this one. A lot of guys stepped up and hopefully just the first step in the right direction for us.”
Of course, the cigars might have gone to waste had the Raiders not brought their best effort of the season. Crosby helped make sure that happened by recording three of the team’s eight sacks. It was the most by a Raiders team since they had eight against the Seahawks in 2010.
The Raiders entered Sunday’s game with just 16 sacks in the first eight games.
“I feel like this group has something special going on,” Crosby said of the defensive line. “It’s one game, but if you watch every single week, we have a lot of guys improving on a weekly basis.”
Crosby said the biggest key is to play well on early downs to force opponents into passing situations and give themselves a chance to get to the quarterback. The pressure also led to two interceptions and several errant throws.
“Today we did that, and you saw the results,” he said.
But Crosby had a feeling it was coming. He was certain enough to have the cigars ready.
“That’s the confidence you have to have in this league,” he said. “You have to go out there with ill intent and the intention to go win. If you have any doubt that you’re going to succeed, you’re already a step behind. We had a lot of confidence, and we were ready to go. You just felt it in the building.”
While it might not have been a big hit or the result of a splashy spin move, Malcolm Koonce was credited with his first sack since Dec. 12, 2021, when he touched down Giants quarterback Daniel Jones after he fell on the first play of the second quarter.
“I’ll take it,” Koonce said. “I grew up a Giants fan, so it’s only right for my first one in a while to come against them.”
As a kid in the Hudson Valley just north of New York City, Koonce’s father would constantly show him film of Lawrence Taylor.
“It was automatic that was going to be my team,” Koonce said. “I didn’t really have a choice.”
Adams OK with involvement
Adams has been vocal about wanting to be more involved in the offense, though he has been clear winning is the most important thing to him.
He reiterated that after being limited to four receptions for 34 yards.
“It’s about how (the offense) looks, and it looked like it was supposed to look out there,” said Adams, who had one catch for 6 yards in the first half. “We weren’t perfect by any means. But we were able to run the ball and do things we set out to do since I’ve been here.
“I’m not concerned with (numbers). Do I want to catch more balls? Of course. But at the end of the day, it’s not about me. This is about the team, and my whole want to catch more balls is to turn 30 (points) into 40 or 50. That’s why. It’s for the team.”
Punter AJ Cole continued his elite season with a record-breaking performance, averaging 63.6 yards on five punts.
It’s the highest single-game average in NFL history for a player with at least four attempts.