Up just 7-0 in the second quarter in Oakland, the Raiders were suddenly faced with the loss of both of their top wide receivers. If they were going to hold on to get the win, they would have to step up against one of the league’s top defenses to do it.
First it was Michael Crabtree who was lost. He was ejected for fighting with Aqib Talib and from the sounds of it, the Raiders backup receivers were prepared for that possibility.
“We don’t never want to see no man go down,” said Patterson. “We all love Crab around here and we need him. Things happen, we all knew it was going to happen it was just a matter of time when. Everybody was ready, prepared for it. Johnny did a hell of a job coming in and I had to step up and it was good for all of us.”
First to step up was Seth Roberts, who caught a 20-yard pass on the next play and later caught a 6-yard pass.
Amari Cooper caught the Raiders’ first touchdown early in the second quarter from nine yards out. The next drive he too was lost. Coop went over the middle and Derek Carr’s pass was high, requiring him to dive for it and he was hit hard in the helmet by Broncos safety Darian Stewart, knocking Cooper unconscious.
“Anytime I throw a ball and I feel like I had anything to do with it, it rips my heart out,” said Carr. “I’m not even going to lie, I had to hold back the emotions of him getting hit and thinking it was my fault. The way the linebacker played it, I had to throw it where I had to throw it. But anytime he gets hit, I feel terrible. Rodney [Hudson] saw it on my face and said hey man shake it off, we gotta win this game. I was like you’re right, I’ll be good, but that’s my brother.”
And so at the 4:39 mark of the second quarter, the Raiders were without both of their top receivers. That’s when the three reserve receivers knew it was all up to them to fill the void.
“Me, Seth [Roberts], and Johnny [Holton], we just sat there and the bench and was like ‘Hey, we all we got’,” said Cordarrelle Patterson. “That’s what we had to do. It don’t matter how many plays you play on special teams, how many plays you play on offense, you gotta be ready, because this is all we have is us three receivers. . . I feel like we did an excellent job being down two receivers and only have three receivers and handle everything that was thrown our way.”
It was Johnny Holton who made the first big play, getting wide open over the middle for a 47-yard catch that put the Raiders in first and goal at the 6-yard-line.
“The deep one to Johnny wasn’t even for Johnny this week,” said Carr. “We were putting someone else there. It just happened to be that he had to run, he went and made the play.”
That play led to the Raiders’ third touchdown to take a 21-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
That should have been enough, but the Broncos made a comeback late to bring it to 21-14 with two and a half minutes remaining. All the Raiders needed was to get a first down to seal the win. In third and 8, they needed a big play and they got it from Patterson.
“They went cover zero,” Patterson said of the Broncos defense not putting a deep safety. “I don’t know why they would do that. I guess because we were down two receivers so they just thought they could get pressure on Derek, but Derek did an excellent job seeing man coverage and just seeing me one-on-one with the free safety or cornerback or whoever it was. He just put the ball right so perfect and there’s no way I couldn’t make a play out of that. He just put the ball right where it needed to be.”
The ball was a high arching pass that looked dangerous, but dropped right into Patterson who broke a couple tackles and went for 54 yards. All he needed was the first down and the Raiders could kneel out the clock.
With Crabtree potentially facing a one-game suspension and Cooper entering the concussion protocol, it’s quite possible the Raiders could be without both again next week against the Giants. So, this may not be the last time the Raiders reserve trio of receivers will be asked to answer the call.