Thursday night the Raiders shocked the world and probably shocked themselves a little bit as well (even if they won’t admit it). In the throes of a 4-game losing streak and showing no signs of the stellar offense they deployed in 2016, they lit it up against the Chiefs.
In a game that saw 8 lead changes, the Raiders got the last point to win it 31-30. They did so thanks to early scoring which they hadn’t gotten for a while and a late game-winning drive that finished with five shots at the end zone and two untimed downs off penalties after time had expired.
A lot of what happened in this game was reminiscent of last season in which they made seven late comebacks and Derek Carr had five game-winning touchdown passes. But there was also a lot that was reminiscent of nothing it was just plain crazy.
It was a wild ride in which only the home team and their crowd left vindicated for the insanity they had just experienced.
Derek Carr, Amari Cooper
I couldn’t separate these two. Both came back after four weeks of the worst football of their young careers and exploded back on the scene in primetime.
The first play of the game, Carr went to Coop for 12 yards. Two plays later, Carr rolled right and hit Jared Cook in stride for a 24-yard gain. The very next play, Carr handed it to Marshawn Lynch who pitched it back on a flea flicker and Carr went up top. He clearly didn’t care that Coop wasn’t open, because he wasn’t. But Coop fought for the ball (!) and won that fight, stretching it over the pylon for the score.
The next drive, Coop went on a crossing route from left to right, finding an open area in the zone. Carr saw him and threw him the ball, he snagged the ball, put on the jets, turned the corner and was gone 45 yards for the touchdown to take the lead back at 14-10.
Early in the second quarter, Coop would catch a pass for 14 yards. That catch would put him at 109 yards on the day to become the first Raider to surpass 100 yards either rushing or receiving. And there was a lot more football left to be played.
The Chiefs would take the lead back and were up 20-14 at the half. The Raiders got the ball to begin the third quarter and just as they had to begin the game, they drove for the touchdown. Along the way Carr connected with Coop for 12 yards. Two plays later, Carr went for Coop again and he drew a pass interference to put the Raiders in first and goal at the 4-yard-lilne. They scored two plays later.
Once again, the Chiefs took the lead back and were up 30-21 to begin the fourth quarter. The Raiders answered with a drive for a field goal and it was a 21-yard connection between Carr and Coop that put them in position for the chip shot 26-yarder. It brought it to a one-score game.
That’s where the score remained when the Raiders got the ball with 2:25 remaining. Once again, the first place Carr went was to Coop who caught the ball about 9 yards out and broke two tackles to pick up 15. Carr threw again for Coop on the next play, but the pass missed short. Two plays later, in second and 20 after a penalty, Carr found Coop across the middle for 39 yards to put them in KC territory at the 41.
A few plays later, the Raiders were in fourth and 11 and with the game on the line, Carr found Jared Cook for 13 yards. Two plays later, he went back to Cook for a 28-yard completion to the one-yard line. That was the first shot at the end zone. There were three more that didn’t count due to penalties – one on Crabtree and two on the Chiefs – before Carr found Crabtree at the left pylon for the game winner.
Carr finished with 417 yards passing with 3 touchdowns. Coop caught 11 passes for a career high 210 yards and 2 touchdowns. THAT’s how you break out of a slump.
All the stars were out Thursday night. Mack made two of the last three plays on the Chiefs opening drive with a run stuff and a pressure to force and incompletion. They settled for a 53-yard field goal.
They scored a touchdown on their next drive, and Mack saw to it they wouldn’t score on their first three. He started with another pressure to force an incompletion and on third and 5 put a wicked straight arm into Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher to knock him off his feet and Mack dove at a terrified Alex Smith who threw the ball away.
He added two more run stuffs – one for a loss – and a pressure in the third quarter. Late in the fourth, when the Raiders needed it most, he and Denico Autry got around the edges to sack Smith for an 11-yard loss. It forced a three-and-out and gave the Raiders the ball with enough time to drive for the game-winning touchdown. That’s just what Mack does.
Much of what Cook did in the game was detailed when discussing Derek Carr as co-Top Baller. So, I’ll summarize.
He had a 24-yard catch to set up the Raiders’ first touchdown. At the end of the first half he had a 14-yard catch to help put the Raiders in field goal range. Early in the 4th quarter he had a 13-yard catch on third and 10 on a drive that brought the Raiders to within one score. The game hinged on his 13-yard catch on 4th and 11 on the final drive. He had what looked like the game-winning touchdown from 29 yards out, but was a half yard shy. He was the target on the final play of regulation, but he was held and the pass was high, so the Raiders would stay alive untimed.
After six games without a 100-yard performer, the Raiders had two Thursday night. Coop was one, Cook was the other. He caught 6 passes for 107 yards.
Score the game winner and you’re usually going to be a Baller. That’s a pretty safe bet. Carr also went to Crab to convert a couple third downs in the game, including the one that set up their second touchdown.
Gave Derek Carr many clean pockets and time to deliver the football, which he needed due to his 52 dropbacks and 10 deep passes in the game.
He was starting after having joined the team four days earlier and led the team with 11 tackles (6 solo). Six of his tackles were on runs of two yards or less including a tackle for loss. His final play midway the fourth quarter was shooting up the gut on a blitz to lay a hard hit on Alex Smith and force an incompletion on third and 4. It was a one-score game at the time, so the defense was desperate for stops.
Downing has gotten some extreme criticism over the past four weeks with the Raiders’ offense struggling. So, it’s important to recognize that his game plan led to the Raiders beating the Chiefs for the first time since 2014 – a 5-game losing streak. Now we see if this was just his plan against the Chiefs or if it’s the start of something.
Denico Autry – teamed up with Mack for the sack that gave the Raiders offense time to drive for the game-winning score. He started that three-and-out with a run stuff for no gain on first down. He also got pressure to draw a holding penalty and made the tackle on a screen.
Justin Ellis -- Had two run stops on the first series, including a tackle for loss. Finished third on the team with 7 tackles (4 solo) including three run stuffs.
Cordarrelle Patterson – Made a phenomenal one-handed grab on third down on the Raiders second drive. It set up Coop’s 45-yard touchdown. Patterson also downed a punt at the one-yard-line and drew a holding penalty in the end zone that allowed for the final touchdown pass to Crabtree for the win.
DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard – these two picked up the slack with Marshawn Lynch kicked out of the game. Washington broke several tackle to score a touchdown from 4 yards out to score the Raiders’ third touchdown. Richard had 76 yards from scrimmage on 9 rushes and 4 catches.