OAKLAND – Khalil Mack had a strip sack and recovered his own forced fumble that virtually secured a Raiders victory.
The star edge rusher did that last week against Carolina, and again on Sunday to beat Buffalo. The box score displays them the same, but this clincher was different. Mack slow-played Jordan Mills, jogging toward him before a strong blow knocked the right tackle back.
He cut inside the space he created, chased Tyrod Taylor down and swung down on the quarterback’s throwing hand. The ball came free and lay on the ground before him, waiting for him to pick up.
Then the Oakland Coliseum showed its appreciation with this: “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!”
Mack heard it, and wasn’t sure it was for him.
“Was Steph Curry in the crowd? I didn’t know he showed up today,” Mack said with a smile after Sunday's 38-24 victory over Buffalo. “It is what it is. I’m just ballin’ and trying to make plays.”
Mack is making tons of them. In addition to his strip sack and fumble recovery, he tipped a pass Nate Allen intercepted with ease. He finished with seven tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Mack now has 58 tackles, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception on the season.
Many of those plays came in the clutch. Mack isn’t just a stat collector. He shows up in important moments, when his team needs them.
“Those are times you live for, making plays in those moments,” Mack said. “You want to step up and stamp the win. That’s what it’s all about for me.”
That makes him extremely valuable to the Raiders. Even so, the MVP is typically reserved for offensive players. Defensive Player of the Year? Mack has to be a frontrunner in that race.
“Khalil Mack is really making his mark on these ball games,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He just keeps showing up huge, and that’s what great players do. Khalil’s a great player."