ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The fall for the Oakland Raiders was rapid: AFC West champions in 2002 to a four-win season the following year.The rebuild has taken far longer, with 13 straight years without a playoff berth or winning record.But after more than a decade of poor drafts, questionable personnel moves and a revolving door of coaches, the Raiders (7-2) are once again legitimate contenders. Thanks the plans of general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Jack Del Rio, and a young core led by Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper.Fresh off a victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, Oakland went into the bye week alone in first place in the AFC West.Were not close to where we want to be and where we need to be, Carr said. Are we doing really good things? Absolutely. We are doing really good things, but theres so much more out there for us. I dont ever want us to get complacent. As long as Im throwing the ball here, Im not going to let guys get complacent.But its amazing how far they have come since starting the 2014 season with 10 straight losses. Oakland won seven games a year ago in the first year under Del Rio before taking another big step so far this season, led by Carrs strong play.Despite being passed over until the second round in the 2014 draft, Carr has emerged as one of the NFLs top young quarterbacks. He has thrown for 2,505 yards this season with 17 touchdowns, only three interceptions and a 99.1 passer rating to put all those losses from 2014 in the rear-view mirror.Theres a lot of character that goes into where were at today, Carr said. Not just myself, but Im saying the whole team. It was tough to come in 0-10. It was tough to come in 0-8, 0-9 and keep doing it. We kept our heads down, and we knew that there was an end goal in mind. Obviously, were not there yet, so we have a long way to go.The decline began after that Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay following the 2002 season. Late owner Al Davis spent the final years of his life trying to make big splashes in trades and free agency in hopes of making one more Super Bowl run. He also picked busts in the draft such as JaMarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Rolando McClain.McKenzie took over following Davis death in 2011 and spent his first two seasons tearing down a team overwhelmed by salary cap woes and a lack of talent. The rebuild truly started in 2014 when he drafted Mack and Carr with his first two picks and signed Donald Penn to anchor the offensive line.Two more productive offseasons that included the hiring of Del Rio and addition of big-play receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson and key defenders Bruce Irvin, David Amerson Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson set the stage for this seasons success.We talk about winning ballgames because that is what it is, Mack said. That is how you change the culture, by winning. Doing all the things it takes to win, and that is the preparation.The Raiders faced some doubters early this season despite their fast start because most of the wins came against lesser opponents, and the defense struggled to stop anyone. They needed late comebacks to beat New Orleans, Baltimore and Tampa Bay, and held off late rallies from San Diego and Tennessee.But the defense has improved in recent weeks, the offensive line has dominated the trenches, and the thorough win over the Broncos on a prime-time stage helped Oakland gained much more respect.The final seven games will feature more tough tests, starting with a Monday night game in Mexico City against Houston on Nov. 21. Oakland still must go on the road to face all three division rivals over the final four weeks, and then could have even more important games come January.Things are coming together, Penn said. I cant wait to see where it will go. Im excited about the future even though I dont want to jump to the future. Were building something very special right now. We still have a lot of work ahead of us. Once all that work starts jelling together, thats what Im excited to see.---For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Sony Michel Womens Jersey . The nimble-footed quarterback got his wish, dashing through the snow and a weary defence all the way into the NCAA record book. Steve Grogan Youth Jersey . Ryan Garbutt had a goal and two assists as Dallas snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. http://www.shoptheofficialpatriots.com/Elite-Andre-Tippett-Patriots-Jersey/ .S District Court against Major League Baseball, the Office of the Commissioner and his own union, the MLBPA. Tedy Bruschi Womens Jersey . "It doesnt get any better than that," Giambi said. "Im speechless." The Indians are roaring toward October. Giambi belted a two-run, pinch-hit homer with two outs in the ninth inning to give Cleveland a shocking 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night, keeping the Indians up with the lead pack in the AL wild-card race. Rob Gronkowski Youth Jersey . -- Ohio States Urban Meyer has never had any issue acclimating to the biggest stages in college football. Just when we thought the NBA Slam Dunk Contest was becoming a snoozefest, Zach LaVine woke us up with his acrobatic, high-flying throwdowns the last two years. The two-time reigning NBA Slam Dunk champion not only grabbed our attention but also snagged the attention of one of the greatest dunkers in NBA history: Dr. J.Weve seen what Julius Erving is capable of around the rim, but The Doctor may have just placed the 21-year-old LaVine on the same level as dunking royalty. In Dr. Js interview with Complex sports, he shares his admiration for the Minnesota Timberwolves guard.Ill tell you, Zach has put on a show the last couple of years. He has to get kudos, Erving said. I dont know if the surprise factor and the timing coordination dunks that he does are as impactful as what Vince Carter brought to the scene when he did a few things that hadnt been seen before. I think with Connie Hawkins, myself, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, theres a lineage there, and I think Vince shook it up a little bit there with a couple of dunks there. Im gonna let him reside in that spot right there.Despite the controversial decision that awarded LaVine the victory in this years dunk-for-dunk contest, he and Orlando Magic forwward Aaron Gordon did not disappoint, as they appeared to sit in midair and effortlessly jump out of the gym.dddddddddddd Dr. J even claims it was the greatest of all time. Yes, you read that correctly.It was clearly as good as the Wilkins-Jordan showdown, and I had a showdown with David Thompson back in 76, which was the last year in the ABA, Erving said. It doesnt get acknowledged as much, but it was a great showdown. But Zach and [Aaron] Gordon, in terms of the guys who are judging and to hear what they had to say during that time, records are made to be broken, and standards of the bar are established to be challenged so somebody can go above it. I would put those two guys, the things they did this past show in Toronto, at the top of the bar. Even for them to chase next year, or put some new guys next year to go after it ... they have raised the bar to a different level.LaVine is coming up on just his third season in the NBA and has already been compared to some of the greatest dunkers in NBA history. By Dr. J, for that matter. It seems that LaVine may be getting this dunking thing down. ' ' '