On Sunday, the Oakland Raiders won the first NFL game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. After the game, some players spoke exclusively with Sky Sports about the experience over the week in London.
Oakland topped the Bears 24-21 in a thriller, mounting a 97-yard drive late in the fourth quarter after Chicago had scored 21 straight in the third to take the lead.
Both teams now enter their bye week, while we now welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers for the second game at the new NFL arena.
Just moments after they had secured their victory, a number of players in the Raiders’ locker room spoke exclusively to Sky Sports about the game, the week in London, and the stadium experience. Here are some of the best responses…
On thoughts and feelings after the win…
Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow: “Feels good to get a win. It was a rollercoaster, wasn’t it? We scored early, they came back but it’s kind of like golf – it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And we finished well.”
Linebacker Tahir Whitehead: “Man, a whole bunch of feelings right now but overall all I’m doing great just excited happy that we ended up victorious. It was an emotional game, a rollercoaster of a game but we weathered the storm.”
Safety Karl Joseph: “We got the win! That’s all that matters.”
On the week in London…
Renfrow: “A lot of fun. It takes me back to my high school days where we played baseball and we played a lot of away games and you really just bonded through those away games.
“I feel like this week we’ll look back in the year and think: ‘that was the week we kind of came together as a team’. We didn’t figure it out, but we definitely took some steps in the right direction.
“[Being away from home for so long] has helped just with the camaraderie because we haven’t seen our families for a week and a half/two weeks and then we have four more road games coming up. So it’s just a great time to bond and have ourselves as our own family.”
Conley: “It was hard adapting to the time zone. I’m still tired. But it is what it is, you have to get through it, you’ve got to practice hard you put a play hard and come together and find a way to win.”
Dakota Allen: “It was very different. Getting used to the time change, a different location and everything but I feel like we really prepared very well this whole week and I feel like that’s the reason the outcome was what it was and I give credit to the coaches and my teammates for that.
“It took a couple of days to adjust to the jet lag and just to be able to sleep a full night but once we all got adjusted, we were all focused.”
Whitehead: “Coming to London early definitely helped. Last year, we felt like we were dragging a bit just trying to get quickly adjusted and this year being out here for a week, it definitely helped with getting adjusted to everything and getting on this time zone. I would definitely say coming out early helped a lot.”
Incognito: “Last time [with the Bills in 2017] we came out early and did the exact same trip – we stayed for the whole week. I really think is advantageous. It’s great to get over here and fight off that jet lag and get rehydrated and get some days to decompress instead of coming in last minute and having to go.”
Linebacker Nicholas Morrow: “London’s cool man. The weather shocked me. It reminded me of college because I was in the midwest [Greenville, Illinois]. It is like cold and stuff but this morning it was sunny! So it was very beautiful and it’s a great pace and I like it.”
Cornerback Daryl Worley: “It was definitely something new. To be in a different country for a whole week, eight-hour time difference – most guys feel like their bodies never adjusted but we definitely felt like we had the upper hand just coming out here early, getting our practices away, getting used to the climate and everything like that, so everything was very good.”
On what was discussed on the sideline as the Bears scored 21 straight points and took the lead in the third quarter…
Renfrow: “Stay optimistic, stay positive. Just control what you can control and go out there and try and score points on offense.”
Allen: “We just had to get back to what we do. Similar to what we did in the first half. Key our keys, do our job and I feel like that’s what we did towards the end when we finished up and got the win.”
Conley: “There isn’t anything really special to say, you just come together as a team and stay in it. It’s a four-quarter game and until the clock hits zero, you just stay in it. Every play is a ‘next play’ mentality.”
Whitehead: “Keep your head in it. Don’t get too overwhelmed. Just do your job. Don’t start going off the deep end and making up stuff, just stick to the game plan and that’s exactly what we did and we were able to make those stops when it counted.”
Running back DeAndre Washington: “Stay composed. We knew going into the game, it was going to be hard-fought. Credit to [the Bears], that’s one of the best teams in the league. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy so the whole time, we just told guys and even just commented at half-time: ‘just stay ready, you know they are going to make their run, we just have to weather the storm and make sure we finish’.”
Incognito: “Just keep swinging. Just keep running the ball. We were moving the ball really well on them, we were having success, picking up first downs so we knew if we went out and just played our game and got another opportunity, we could go and win it. We needed a fake punt to get that 97-yard drive completed but hey, we got it and punched it in the end zone and we’re leaving with a win against a great team.”
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Morrow: “We were just telling each other it is the same team we were playing against in the first half. We knew what we could do. We had to settle in. We had to deal with some short fields with the turnover and the punt return but I think we came together and showed that we could play together and make stops when it mattered.”
Worley: “The biggest thing was that we knew it wasn’t going to be easy with a team like that – they are Super Bowl contenders. We knew that their defense was definitely going to play at a high clip, they were going to make plays, we were going to make plays and at the end of the day we just had to keep fighting and stay together.”
On the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and its atmosphere…
Whitehead: “The atmosphere was electric and the stadium, it was more intimate between the fans and the game. Last year at Wembley, the fans and everything just seemed so much further away so you’re not really interacting with them. I think this stadium is awesome as far as engaging the fans.”
Joseph: “The stadium is beautiful, man. I came here to watch Tottenham and Bayern Munich and that was a great game too. It’s a beautiful stadium.”
Washington: “It was great, man. I had a hell of a time in London! It seemed like it was more Chicago fans out there, but the atmosphere was amazing so I definitely enjoyed myself.”
Incognito: “Excellent. It was awesome. There were a lot of Bears fans but the stadium, the locker room, the field, it’s first class. It really is. And it was great to be a part of it.”
Morrow: “The stadium’s great man, the turf is good, it was loud. It’s big, it’s massive. It was great, I loved it.”