Where do I even begin?
To start, this was the best Thursday Night game in a long time. Maybe ever. The short week sucks for the players most of the time, but man, the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs put on the show of a lifetime last night. And it ended in fireworks.
The Raiders last drive was a flurry of emotional ups and downs. Down 30-24, an offensive pass interference during the second play by Johnny Holton put them in a 2nd-and-20 situation. A 39-yard dart from Derek Carr to Amari Cooper gave the Raiders a first down in Chiefs territory.
Enter Jared Cook. The tight end snared a 13-yard strike to get a first down. The Raiders took their final timeout with 33 seconds left in the game.
A pass to Michael Crabtree from Carr was broken up in the end zone by Terrance Mitchell. Then Holton and Roberts accidentally fought each other for a pass that would’ve put the Raiders inside the 10-yard line.
3rd and 10. That’s when the craziness truly began.
Cook made a leaping catch that appeared to be a go-ahead 29-yard touchdown with 18 seconds to go. However, a booth review showed that he was down just before the goal line. By rule, a 10-second runoff ensued, leaving the Raiders with 8 seconds on a running clock to score a TD.
Carr threw a quick pass to Crabtree for another TD. The officials threw a flag. Offensive pass interference on Crabtree. It looked like a good call live, but TV replays suggested otherwise.
3 seconds to go on the Chiefs 11-yard line. Carr lobbed a pass high enough to bounce off of a wide open Cook’s hands for an incomplete pass as time expired. Raiders lose…
…until another flag was thrown. Cook was held by Ron Parker before he turned around for the pass. Half the distance to the goal for one untimed down from the 6-yard line.
Carr fired a pass to Cordarrelle Patterson, who made a tough catch but came down out of bounds. Game over again…
And they executed it perfectly via an on-the-money pass from Carr to Crabtree for the TD. Giorgio Tavecchio‘s extra point came close to missing, but it snuck inside the right upright to give the Raiders a 31-30 win over the Chiefs.
It was an offensive showcase for both sides. Carr finished with 417 yards and 3 TDs on 29 for 52 passing. He had a few hiccups, namely some overthrown passes and a sequence where the ball was literally taken out of his hands by Allen Bailey (it was erased due to a questionable illegal contact call on Murray). But he kept cool when it counted and now has 10 days to rest his injured back.
Cooper had his best game as a pro, finishing with 11 catches for 210 yards and 2 TDs. Carr targeted him 18 times in all, and while Cooper had a couple of drops, the two seemed to have reestablished their lauded connection. Cooper was in the midst of a terrible stretch of games, so it was great to see him rebound so strongly.
Crabtree was fairly quiet outside of the final score, catching 3 passes for 24 yards. Cook’s clutch catches were huge; he had 6 catches for 107 yards.
The running game for the Raiders was barely relevant, partly due to the self-inflicted absence of Marshawn Lynch. He got ejected in the second quarter for grabbing an official in the middle of a shoving match between the two teams following a flagged late hit on Carr from Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters. Lynch wasn’t even on the field during the play where the hit occurred. Early reports stated that he left the stadium afterward, though it was later clarified that Lynch changed into street clothes and watched the rest of the game from the stands. The NFL could suspend him for leaving the bench or putting his hand on the referee.
With Lynch gone after just 2 carries for 9 yards, Jalen Richard and Washington had to man the running game. They performed admirably for the most part. The former had 9 carries for 31 yards and 4 catches for 45 yards, while the latter got 33 yards and a TD on the same amount of carries.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs suffered their second loss in five days despite an explosive outing from their offense. Alex Smith was sharp, completing 25 out of 36 passes for 342 yards and 3 TDs. He picked apart a poor Raiders secondary, targeting David Amerson especially.
Two of his scoring throws went 64 and 63 yards, respectively. Tyreek Hill burned Amerson on the first one; he finished with 6 catches for 125 yards and the TD. Albert Wilson nabbed the second off a batted Keith McGill ball for his lone catch of the night.
Travis Kelce caught Smith’s first TD on a 10-yarder from Smith. The Raiders actually limited him somewhat; he had 4 catches for 33 yards. Demarcus Robinson was productive, hauling in 5 passes for 69 yards.
Kareem Hunt became just the second rookie running back to start his career with seven straight games of 100+ yards from scrimmage. He had 18 carries for 87 yards and 4 catches for 30 yards. It should be noted that 34 of his rushing yards came on one carry. Newly signed NaVorro Bowman was strong in his Raiders debut, finishing with a team-leading 11 tackles.
The Raiders could’ve had more points if not for two Tavecchio misses. The first wasn’t his fault; Murray got a hand on the ball just after it was kicked, earning a block. However, Tavecchio pushed a 47-yarder wide left as time expired in the first half.
I said in my game preview that the Raiders season was on the line in this one. They fought through a bonkers ending to earn that victory. It felt like it was destined to happen.
We got glimpses of five different realities last night. Wow. What a game. What a win.