With a road win over the San Diego Chargers Sunday, the Oakland Raiders clinched their first postseason birth since the 2002-03 season when they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.
The road back to the playoffs was a long one for the Raiders franchise, as they have had eight different coaches since that Super Bowl game 13 years ago.
Only one player has been around to see each of those coaches come and go, and that is kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
The 38-year-old was drafted in the first round by the Raiders in 2000, and has played each of his 17 NFL seasons in the Silver and Black.
After clinching a postseason birth Sunday, Jankikowski had trouble describing how special it was to get back to the postseason during his postgame interview:
“I can’t even describe it. It feels so special. I’ve waited a long time for that.”
Janikowski has played a big part in the Raiders success this season, making 29 of 35 field goals on the season. He was again a big part of Sunday’s win against the Chargers, making all four of his field goal attempts.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio talked about how important Janikowski was for the Raiders offense that struggled a bit in the red zone:
“I’m certainly glad that we got the points we lined up for him. That’s the bottom line, is we like to get seven. We got points that we’ve lined up for him. We’ve been really good. We were red hot at one point in the red zone. We’ve cooled off a bit recently, and certainly today. I think one for six before the last kneel down, so that’s not what we’re looking for but when we do have to kick the field goals, we’re glad that we can line up and get the points.”
The win also put the Raiders back in first place in the AFC West and in position to clinch a first round bye in the postseason if they win their last two games.