The decibels were building, 16, 17, 18, according to numbers on the scoreboard, the fans trying to emulate a jet engine, lifting off a runway, soaring.
The momentum was building, one touchdown, another touchdown, another touchdown, a ringing of the Raider bell — bong, bong — a football team lifting off, soaring.
The constant chant, “Raiders, Raiders.” The unstoppable attack. A wave of silver and black, sweeping through the Oakland Coliseum, sweeping over the Buffalo Bills. A football team that did almost nothing and then, like magic did it all.
If only Al Davis could see these Raiders, resilient, reliable and most of all, to this point, successful. Which they didn’t seem destined to be, trailing the very solid Bills, 24-9, early in the second half. Which, of course, they turned out to be, taking over, remarkably, entirely, beating those solid Bills, 38-24.
“Sometimes you feel that momentum shift,” conceded a candid Rex Ryan, the Bills coach, “and it just snowballed on us.” Like a snowball in Hades, because it almost never snows around here. But, of course, Ryan was speaking metaphorically.
That momentum could be felt from Hayward to San Jose, Berkeley to Vallejo. Maybe even across the Bay in San Francisco and Marin. Certainly in the Raiders huddle.
The stops that weren’t being made by the defense suddenly were. The passes that couldn’t be completed by the offense suddenly were being completed. The game that was being clutched by Buffalo (now 6-6) was wrenched away by the 10-2 Raiders, a sixth straight victory.
A Bills team that had gained 313 yards through three quarters had only 69 yards in the fourth. A Raiders team that had gained only 168 yards without a touchdown the first half gained 231 yards with four touchdowns the second half.
“We don’t panic,” said Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree, who caught seven passes, one for a touchdown. “We don’t sweat. We go out there and play ball.”
Play it sloppily at the beginning. Play it efficiently after that. Play it spectacularly, impressively.
“We’re confident we can come back,” said another receiver, Amari Cooper, who caught two passes, one for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Cooper made sure we knew how it all changed. “The defense started playing really well.” Of course, defense is what wins.
Jack Del Rio knew that as linebacker. He knows it as Raiders head coach. He also knows how special a player he has in defensive end Khalil Mack.
“I’m glad he’s not playing for New England, I guess” said Ryan, referring to the Bills AFC East rival. “But he’s a great player. He didn’t disappoint today.”
Didn’t disappoint the Raiders and their fans, but stripping a ball and recovering it for a second straight game and making seven other tackles, surely he disappointed the Bills.
Mack, not surprisingly, gave credit to the offense and quarterback Derek Carr. “Twenty-nine unanswered points is special,” he said. No less special than a defense which after halftime allows only seven points.
The crowd understood that. After Mack’s strip of the football it started yelling, “MVP, MVP,” and Mack later humbly, and in a way humorously, commented, “Was Steph Curry here?”
No, the Raiders were here, the 2016 Raiders who were down but definitely not out, who responded to the bell, who have that self-belief that is built from and is responsible for victory.
“When things are going bad,” said Carr, who despite a bad finger threw for 260 yards, “We just stay the course.”
And, whoosh, soar.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.