DeSean Jackson providing spark, confidence for Las Vegas Raiders, Derek Carr

DeSean Jackson's big leap in production in his third game as a Raider corresponded with the Raiders' offense finding its form on Thanksgiving. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

HENDERSON, Nev. -- DeSean Jackson is averaging 35.0 yards per catch with the Las Vegas Raiders. Or, one yard per year he's been alive.

Yes, Jackson turned 35 on Wednesday, six days after his three-catches-for-102-yards-and-a-56-yard-TD Tour De Force on national television at the Dallas Cowboys.

"S---, I didn't even know he was 35," Raiders running back Josh Jacobs said of Jackson after bearing witness to the diminutive wideout showing he still had that vaunted burst. "I ain't know he was 30 ..."

Jacobs paused, then smiled.

"Oof," he continued. "Yeah, and he looks so effortless, too. I'm like, 'Bro, you just be gliding.' That's crazy."

And you thought Jackson stunned the football world coming out of high school in Long Beach, California, by choosing Cal over USC.

Jackson, who made his NFL debut in 2008 -- when Jacobs was all of 10 years old -- did more than impress the younglings on Thanksgiving. He gave a jolt of excitement to wake up what had been a moribund Raiders offense after the bye. In other words, he did what was exactly expected of him -- taking the top off the defense to open things up underneath for other pass-catchers while keeping safeties honest. Jackson also drew a pair of deep pass interference penalties, 30 and 17 yards, respectively.

The key, then, for a Raiders team that ended a three-game losing streak to improve to 6-5 is to keep the momentum going as Las Vegas plays host to the Washington Football Team on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox).

"Just because we called a play for him where he's the No. 1 option doesn't mean I'm just going to drop back and throw it up to him," said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. "It has to be the right look, it has to be the right coverage. I think what we saw in the Dallas game was he was on the field more; he had more opportunities."

Indeed. After being on the field for just nine snaps in his Raiders debut against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 14 -- a showing that included a spectacular 38-yard grab but a just-as-unspectacular lost fumble on the play -- Jackson played 16 snaps against the Cincinnati Bengals a week later but was not targeted once.

He was on the field for 42 snaps against the Cowboys.

"That's him just being able to handle more and being in the system more and being able to play more," Carr said. "I think that him being able to do that obviously gives us that stretch that we're going to need for everyone else to get active, too."

When Jackson first joined the Raiders on Nov. 8 -- signed in the wake of Henry Ruggs III being cut after his fiery car crash that claimed the life of a 23-year-old woman and her dog -- he said he was up for any role Las Vegas asked him to play at this stage of his career.

Deep threat. Decoy. You name it.

"The [personal] accolades, the stats are there," Jackson said. "I really want to win and chase a Super Bowl. So I think it's a great fit here. I know it's a lot of adversity going on here with the organization, but sometimes that's what builds character. When people are always against you and going against you and thinking everything's bad, it definitely shows what a group can do when they face adversity.

"So I think right now is the best time for everybody to gel together, come closer together and really just make the best out of the situation. You can't really change what's happened but the best thing about life is you can always better yourself and move forward, day in and day out."

The role of veteran sparkplug has been filled, then. Yes, by Jackson. Hey, for comparison sake, "Old Man" Willie Brown was only 36 when he authored his epic pick-six for the Raiders in Super Bowl XI.

Because not only did Jackson make the most of his touches, he opened up things for others. As prescribed and advertised.

Receiver Hunter Renfrow had career highs in catches (eight) and receiving yards (134). Receiver Zay Jones' five catches for 59 yards were highs for him in a Raiders uniform. In fact, the 307 yards by Raiders receivers in the OT win at Dallas were the fifth-most combined by Raiders wideouts in a game in franchise history.

Up next, another familiar foe for Jackson in Washington, a team he has torched for 47 catches, 839 yards and seven TDs in 14 career games.

Credit Jackson with opening up the Raiders' vertical game and gaining the trust of Carr, who said he and Jackson ran that same play three times in practices leading up to the Dallas game. The situation, Carr insisted, had to play out just right, and both quarterback and receiver had to recognize it.

They did.

"All year, I've been upward tilt," Carr said, dropping his throwing shoulder while lifting his left shoulder to simulate throwing a deep ball.

"As [former coach Jon] Gruden would tell me, 'Upward tilt. I want to see the car at an angle.' I've tried to do that. And when it's there, I've tried to let them launch. Probably more times than I should have, a couple times. But when you connect on one, it just gives confidence to the whole team."