What a test the Oakland Raiders passed. As soon as they racked up their fourth loss of the season to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders had to move into desperation mode. Their Thursday Night Football matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs was an extremely important challenge to overcome. The Raiders were playing against the team that has been giving their team and quarterback the most trouble for the last three years. The stakes were at their highest with the Raiders facing a difficult schedule ahead. This was one of the best football games of the season, and the Raiders have to feel relaxed and relieved to come away with the win.
Week Seven Oakland Raiders Takeaways
No Giveth, No Taketh
For the seventh straight game, no interceptions for the Oakland Raiders defense. There were opportunities for the secondary to come away with their first interception but not many. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith had a few errant throws that could have resulted in his first pick of the season, but the Raiders couldn’t capitalize and Smith didn’t yield enough of those opportunities.
Smith had his way with the Raiders secondary once again, but the defense did make two straight fourth quarter stops. New linebacker Navarro Bowman provided a noticeable boost to the front seven in his debut as the starting middle linebacker. An interception has to end up in the hands of a Raider at some point, but the team would feel a lot better if they could just force more incompletions as well.
Although the Raiders defense couldn’t swing momentum with a forced turnover, the offense didn’t budge either. Derek Carr nearly lost the ball to the Chiefs early in the second quarter, but a penalty on the Chiefs secondary saved the Raiders. Other than that blunder, Carr took care of the ball.
Carr + Crabtree + Khalil = Clutch
Once again the Oakland Raiders recipe for a fourth quarter comeback worked. After converting an early field goal to make the score 30-24 in the last quarter, the Raiders fought for a touchdown to the literal end. Newcomer Bowman came up big with a blitz and quarterback knockdown to end a Chiefs drive with six minutes left in the game. However, Carr and the Raiders couldn’t convert on their first series and were forced to punt. A predictable play call on third and five ended up with wide receiver Amari Cooper quickly stopped by two defenders. Eventually, the Chiefs were going to recognize the same flat to Cooper that the Raiders converted a couple times before.
Thankfully, the Raiders received another opportunity on offense after Khalil Mack again showed up in the biggest moment possible. He and Denico Autry combined to sack Smith to end another Chiefs possession and give Carr one last series to win the game. Cooper caught two big conversions on three targets, but Carr reminded the NFL who the Raiders number one receiver is.
Since joining the Oakland Raiders, wide receiver Michael Crabtree has six fourth quarter touchdowns that either tied or took the lead. Also, don’t forget his game winning two point conversion over the New Orleans Saints in week one of the 2016 season. As talented as Cooper is, he continues to frustrate his coaches, Carr, and Raider Nation with inconsistent hands. When the game came down to the literal last moment of the game, Carr was looking for Crabtree. Three end zone targets went to Crabtree, and he caught two of them.
The designed comeback route with Carr rolling to Crabtree’s side was executed perfectly to win the game. The most memorable part about the game-winning touchdown was how hard Carr threw that pass. There is no doubt that Carr had complete confidence in zipping the ball with as much velocity he could muster because he knew sure-handed Crabtree wouldn’t choke it up. The ball had to get there, and the catch had to be made. Carr and Crabtree’s connection ensured that once again.
Despite being Carr’s favorite target, Crabtree is not the most talented wide receiver on the roster. It’s still Cooper, and the NFL finally got to see him come back from his extraordinary slump. Cooper entered the game with 146 yards receiving and one touchdown after six games. After a 39 yard catch during the game winning drive, Cooper finished with 11 catches, 210 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
On a simple cross route, Cooper flexed his spectacular ability and burned the Chiefs secondary for his second score. It was a brief display of Cooper reminding everyone he can be the best player on the football field when he has the ball. Raiders fans have been waiting to holler “Coop” in their stadium trembling fashion all year, and finally, Cooper gave them reasons. Now, wait for more.