Scott Bair

'Go make a play': Inside the Raiders game-deciding two-minute drill

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'Go make a play': Inside the Raiders game-deciding two-minute drill

OAKLAND – The Raiders had a chance to beat the Kansas City Chiefs and blew it. The offense took possession with roughly six minutes remaining and went three-and-out.

The Raiders defense gave their teammates another chance. A Kansas City three-and-out insured that, though they were down six points and had just 2:25 to work with. The starting XI huddled on their 15-yard line, and quarterback Derek Carr surveyed his surroundings.

Familiar faces were set at every angle around him, guys he knew had come through in the clutch. This, he could tell, was a composed bunch. There was no fear or anxiety, no mental fatigue from four straight losses.

“Those moments can be emotional, but they aren’t for us,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “There’s an expectation, a belief that we’ll get the job done. We won’t be denied.”

Success breeds confidence. The Raiders finished seven fourth-quarter, game winning drives last year. They were ready to do it again.

“We’ve done this a couple of times together,” Carr said. “So when we took the field that last time, I looked at (center Rodney Hudson) and said, ‘Alright, let’s go.’ I looked at my wideouts and I didn’t have to say anything. They said, ‘We got you, just throw it up.’

“That makes the quarterback’s heart beat a little bit slower when you know you have guys that have your back.”

Derek Carr worked the ball downfield and completed a 31-30 victory with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. That’s the CliffsNotes. The unabridged version was downright dramatic.

Carr has completed some improbable comebacks, but Thursday might earn the gold.

“Not even close,” Carr said. “Absolutely. I can’t even say it better. Yes. It sure was.”

Nothing came easy. Carr started the drive with a 15-yard pass to Amari Cooper, whose 39-yard reception a bit later bailed his team out of a 2nd-and-20 jam.

Jared Cook took over from there. His 13-yard catch converted a 4th-and-11. He later hauled in a 29-yard bomb that was originally called a touchdown but overturned on review. The catch was good, but Cook was officially down at the 1 with 18 seconds left.

“I thought I got it in,” Cook said. “Even after the replay I saw I thought I got it in. At least that’s what it looked like on the jumbotron. He didn’t touch me. It was a great ball by Derek. It was a play that boosted us and helped us get the win.”

A 10-second runoff – Cook was technically tackled in bounds – left eight ticks remaining. Down that close with so little time, Carr had simple instructions.

“At that moment, you just have to find a one-on-one with the coverages that they’re playing and give somebody a chance,” Carr said. “There’s nothing technical about it. At that point, I’m telling the guys in the huddle, ‘Look I’ve got to give somebody a chance now. Go make a play.’ They did a couple of times.”

The first went from Carr to Crabtree for a 1-yard touchown negated by offensive pass interference. Back it up.

The next pass fell incomplete, but Cook drew a defensive holding call as time expired. That set up an untimed down for the whole shebang.

Or so we thought.

Carr threw incomplete to Cordarrelle Patterson, who was also held.

The second untimed down went according to plan. Carr to Crabtree from two yards out. No flags. One game-deciding touchdown.

Crabtree was the primary target, though Carr still has reads to make.

“There’s a progression to it,” Carr said. “‘Crab’ is first and I was calling for that play. If there’s one thing about ‘Crab,’ it doesn’t matter what happens throughout the rest of the game, he always shows up.”

The entire offense typically does in the clutch, especially last year. Carr has led a baker’s dozen now, and is a lot more comfortable in those spots. This last one, however, made him think of his first.

Maybe because latest came on a Thursday night, against the Kansas City, exactly like his maiden comeback. The Raiders were 0-10 back in 2014, and Carr willed his professional victory with a short strike to James Jones, his only reliable receiver. He recalled it fondly, but shuttered at the stress and anxiety that used to accompany late-game drives.

“I remember the first two-minute drive we ever had or fourth quarter comeback was Thursday Night against the Chiefs, and there’s not a lot of familiar faces from that huddle,” Carr said. “Now moving forward the last couple of years, we’ve grown our culture and the guys that are here, our core guys. We can get the job done.”

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs

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USATSI

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 31-30 victory over Chiefs

OAKLAND – Three things you need to know about the Raiders’ 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night:

1. Back from the brink

The Raiders are still under .500. They face an uphill climb getting back into playoff consideration following a crippling four-game losing streak.

Still. 3-4 is a whole heck of a lot better than the alternative.

“Yeah, 2-5 did not sound good,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That made our stomach hurt. We wanted to come out here and get a big win. This is a big win. For our team, especially with the adversity we’ve gone through.”

The Raiders looked lost during their downturn, when a loaded offense averaged 13.1 points per game. They fell to 14th in the AFC and last in their division. Perceived strengths proved suspect. Everything was called into question.

If the Raiders were drowning, Thursday was that point in the movie where the hero reappears taking a huge, dramatic breath.

The Raiders are alive again, especially in beating the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs. There’s work ahead to make it more than a really fun night, but Thursday proved their survival instincts are still keen.

“It felt good,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “I wish it would have happened a few weeks ago. We wouldn’t be sitting here like that. You all would have been talking like ‘OK, we’re on a run.' I’m glad to get things going.

“I told them today I was going to go out there and let it rip. I told some other guys to go out there and let it rip. This offense was trying to be too perfect. We had high hopes going into the season when we started, then we hit adversity. We couldn’t find a way to get out of there fast enough. Now we’re getting out of this, but we have to keep it going. One thing we have been doing is we’ve been working as hard as we do every week. It’s starting to pay off.”

2. Dormant volcano erupts

The Raiders offense was horrible four straight games. The season’s first two games proved what a loaded unit can do when functioning well, but those efforts got lost in a wash of bad play.

An MVP-caliber quarterback’s play was openly questioned for the first time. So was a bright young coordinator taking shrapnel for the team’s misgivings. Averaging 13 points per game will make a fan base an angry mob. The offense grossly underperformed, but raw talent didn’t diminish.

Production was hot lava, bubbling underneath the surface. It erupted on Thursday night, with the previously cautious Raiders offense opened up and consistently took yards in chunks.

In doing so, a lost offense may have found an identity, a fallback: The Raiders can flat out sling it.

Quarterback Derek Carr was throwing darts all over the field, completing 29-of-52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 8.0 yards per pass play and, at times, threw people open or allowed receivers to make a play in tight coverage.

Pass catchers certainly did that. Amari Cooper had 11 catches for 210 and two scores. Tight end Jared Cook had six receptions for 107 yards. Michael Crabtree only had 24 yards, but snagged the game-deciding touchdown.

It felt and looked like the Raiders offense everyone expected each week, finally back on track. That was clear after Carr threw Amari Cooper a touchdown pass the first two drives.

“We struggled to do a lot of things over the last month,” Carr said. “To start fast, again I think that gives life to a team. That’s a sense of hope, which we always have and belief and those kind of things, but to start fast, it always just gives your team a little boost at the beginning that you have to have.”

In previous weeks, the Raiders were wound too tight. They strived for perfection and failed to attain anything close. They just let loose, and went for it. An offense with no TNT blew up, to the tune of six explosive plays.

“We got so many weapons, we got so many explosive athletes on our offense but just in these last four games that we loss we were just so out of whack,” running back Jalen Richard said. “It was little stuff here and there, technical, maybe a missed assignment here and there. Guys were doing their thing, guys were playing hard. We believed the whole game even when we got down a little bit. We pulled through and got the win.”

3. Return of the 2016 Raiders

Last season’s Raiders owned the fourth quarter. They generated seven come-from-behind victories last season thanks to offensive magic and timely defense.

That’s how they erased a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Kansas City. They never wavered, even in tough times. The defense provided opportunity. With two minutes remaining, the offense got it done.

Derek Carr orchestrated an 11-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Crabtree on the second straight untimed down brought on by defensive penalty.

That moment produced great emotion. It should’ve after completing one of the wildest comebacks in franchise history. The drive itself, however, was clinical.

The Raiders believed they would score. They expected it.

"There was no panic, or anxiety or anything like that,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “We were going to get the job done. There was never, ever any doubt.”

That’s exactly what last year’s Raiders did. On the regular. They couldn’t respond well to adversity in recent games. They found their magic on Thursday night.

Instant Analysis: In wild fashion, Raiders end losing streak with no time left

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: In wild fashion, Raiders end losing streak with no time left

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND – The Raiders were desperate for a win and played like it.

The offense woke from the dead. The defense showed energy and life.

Had they played like this recently, they would’ve been far better than 2-4. But they got what they earned, as head coach Jack Del Rio likes to say, and faced a virtual must win against the AFC’s finest.

It would take a Herculean effort from quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders got that. He was nothing short of awesome.

The Chiefs don’t roll over for anyone. Some 2016 magic was required.

They got some, and plenty of it.

The Raiders beat Kansas City 31-30. Carr to Crabtree on an untimed down. And it kept their season alive.

They were so close to 2-5. They walked off the field 3-4, re-energized and in far better shape to face the rest of their season.

That result was earned with an excellent two-minute drill that featured some big moments, including a 39-yard catch and run by Amari Cooper. That was topped a short while later by a 13-yard pass to Jared Cook on 4th-and-11.

The Raiders worked it down to the 1-yard line on a 29-yard strike to Jared Cook. It was called a touchdown on the field, but ruled short of the goal line. That caused a 10-second runoff – Cook was in bounds -- that left eight seconds on the clock. Then Michael Crabtree pushed off. They the Chiefs were called for defensive holding, resulting in one untimed down. Holding gave the Raiders another.

That’s when Carr found Michael Crabtree for a game-tying touchdown. Girgio Tavecchio’s extra point won it.

The Raiders were down nine points to start the fourth quarter, but Tavecchio’s 26-yard field goal a few minutes in made it a one-score game.

The defense got a stop with six minutes left, and gave the offense a chance to win it.

The Raiders went three and out.

So did the Chiefs, courtesy of solid run defense and a Denico Autry/Khalil Mack sack.

The Silver and Black regained possession with 2:25 left and a timeout remaining.

You already know what happened next.

The Raiders offense came back to life Thursday night. Quarterback Derek Carr paced a frenzied attack, as you’d expect, sparked by deep plays missing in recent weeks.

Carr’s rare combination of zip and touch was back on display. He was nothing short of awesome, completing 29-of-52 passes for 417 yards and three touchdowns, in his best game of the season.

Previously slumping receiver Amari Cooper was active early, with touchdown catches on his team’s first two drives.

The home team’s total was hindered by a pair of missed field goals, though yards came in bunches all night.

Even so, it proved tough to compete with Kansas City’s high-powered offense. The Raiders defense created pressure and did some nice things, but gave up too many explosive plays on the night.

Smith hit speedster Tyreek Hill on a 64-yard catch and run for touchdown to cap a three-play, 99-yard drive. Albert Wilson scored from 63 yards out, thanks to a ball tipped back by Keith McGill – it should’ve been intercepted – that went right to Wilson for an easy score.

Welcome back, Amari: Top Raiders receiver Amari Cooper broke out of a prolonged slump with a dynamite performance. He had two huge catches early in the game, and finished with 11 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns. He also drew a pass interference inside the Kansas City 5-yard line that set up another score.

Report: Penn and Crabtree argue on sideline: Raiders left tackle Donald Penn and receiver Michael Crabtree got into a shoving match on the sideline, according to CBS on-field reporter Tracy Wolfson.

Wolfson said offensive line coach Mike Tice had to break up the exchange. It’s uncertain why the incident began.

Marshawn gets ejected: Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch got ejected for making contact with an official in the second quarter. He came in from the sideline to protect Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters, who was being confronted for a late hit on quarterback Derek Carr.

Lynch tried to get in the middle of teammates and his good friend and Oakland native, and ended up pushing an official. He will get fined and possibly suspended for the act.