A squirrel runs in the end zone at Lambeau Field during the first half of an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Mike Roemer
November 07, 2016

It's about time for the country to start paying more attention to the AFC West-leading, Super Bowl champion-beating Oakland Raiders, from young, mistake-avoiding QB Derek Carr to pass-rusher extraordinaire Khalil Mack to twinkle-toed punter Marquette King.

Yes, that's right, even Oakland's punter is worth watching: After each of a pair of third-quarter punts that were downed at the 2 during a statement-making 30-20 victory over the Denver Broncos, King launched into a series of moves that looked fit for ''Dancing with the Stars.''

''Just having a little fun,'' King said.

Been quite a while since the Raiders (7-2) were this entertaining - or relevant.

They have gone 13 seasons without a playoff berth; they hadn't hosted a prime time Sunday night game in more than a decade.

Yet there they were, taking charge of the NFL's best division by dominating the league's best team of last season.

The Raiders controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against the division rival Broncos (6-3).

They ran whenever and however they wanted, rolling up a total of 218 yards on the ground, including 114 plus three TDs from Latavius Murray. Carr had zero picks; his season total is only three. Mack had two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

''We have to keep building,'' Raiders left tackle Donald Penn said.

With coach Jack del Rio leading a young core of stars with some key free-agent pickups such as Penn and safety Reggie Nelson sprinkled in, the Raiders certainly appear to be on the right track for the first time in a while.

In case you missed it, here are the other notable topics after the NFL season's ninth Sunday:

WORST ONSIDE KICK EVER?: Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell produced what might very well have been the worst onside kick in NFL history in the final minute of a 21-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Boswell attempted what in soccer is known as a ''rabona'' - where the kicking leg is wrapped around the other leg before striking the ball. Toni Fritsch successfully did one for the Cowboys during a playoff game in the 1970s, and Boswell himself employed that trick kick in college . But this time, all he managed to do was barely make contact with the ball, tapping it off the tee, and essentially ending the game. Even the officiating crew couldn't stop smiling afterward. The Los Angeles Rams had a similarly ineffective - if not quite as embarrassingly awful - onside kick at the end of a 13-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

KELCE'S EJECTION: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce got a little carried away while protesting a no-call on what he thought should have been pass interference in the end zone against Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara in Kansas City's 19-14 victory. Kelce took his towel and chucked it toward an official mockingly, as if it were a penalty flag. That official responded by throwing his hat, while another official tossed a flag. Kelce was ejected for his display and said afterward, ''Felt like an idiot.''

SQUIRREL!: As unusual a delay-of-game call as there can be came courtesy of an energetic squirrel at Lambeau Field as Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts beat Aaron Rodgers and the struggling Green Bay Packers 31-26. The furry critter showed up initially in the first half, then interrupted play in the third quarter, prancing around an end zone as the hosts were driving.

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For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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