The plaudits were for Michael Olise scoring a stunning top corner goal at the perfect time, George Puscas being in the right place at the right time to add a second and Lucas Joao coming off the bench to add a timely third. But Rafael made some vital and dazzling saves to help his side earn all three points on Easter Monday.
Colin Kazim-Richards was thwarted twice in the same move in the first half, then Tom Lawrence was denied the chance to take aim by our Brazilian before he produced a wonderful save to direct Max Bird's piledriver wide.
"That's my job," he said modestly. "I'm there to make saves. When I can help my team, that makes me happy. Unfortunately we conceded a goal near the end, but what a strike!"
"To score just before half-time gave us so much confidence and taking the lead was so important, because defensively this team is so good and keeps a good shape.
"It was an amazing shot. From where I was, it looked like a difficult shot, but he is an amazing guy, an amazing player and he deserved that goal," Rafa said of Michael Olise's opener.
"Then Lucas scored at a very important time of the game and I was so happy for him.
"But as a team, we are always happy when Michael scores, Yakou, Puski, Lucas...because we know how important everybody is to the team. We always talk about the team, but when we score it is the team who gets the reward.
"And I think we've been top six so far this season because we always think as a team and not as individuals.
"And three points at this point in the season, with just six games left, and in a game like this against Derby...it's so important. We had to win and now we must keep going."
The Royals go to high-flying Watford on Friday night now, hoping to repeat the feat and keep up the challenge for a play-off place going into the final five games of the campaign.
"We love playing games like this. I think it will be a nice game against what is basically a Premier League team - they were there last season and it is our dream to be there.
"So we will go to Vicarage Road to do our job and give everything to take home the points.
"Right now, we will enjoy this moment, this victory against Derby. Then we have a few days to rest and recover and be ready to do our best against Watford."