OAKLAND – The media ring surrounding Michael Crabtree’s locker eventually swelled three and four deep. The veteran Raiders receiver kept his back to the crowd, methodically prepping himself for re-entrance into street clothes and then the real world.
He turned toward the press and warned of further delay but an eventual return. He went deeper into the locker room, and never came back.
Never one for a meeting with the media, Crabtree chose to let play speak for itself.
Crabtree put on a clinic in Sunday’s 45-20 victory over the New York Jets, with six catches on as many targets for 80 yards and three touchdowns.
Nice day at the office for receiving corps’ elder statesman. Crabtree turned 30 on Thursday and celebrated the milestone with a feast on man coverage, proof positive the ol’ man’s still got it.
“He’s a baller,” edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “He’s one hell of a player. He comes out, and works incredibly hard. He does what it takes to win on his routes and help win ball games. He does it all.”
Crabtree opened the scoring on a play originally called a run. Quarterback Derek Carr liked Crabtree’s matchup and checked to a pass, then floating a fade to him in the left corner of the end zone.
The second score came from deep. Carr hit Crabtree 20 yards downfield, and then Crabtree, juked his man and cut six more yards into the end zone.
The third score also worked to perfection, with Crabtree running into the end zone and cutting back toward the pylon to catch the ball. He made each one look easy, and continued his run as a reliable scoring target. Crabtree scored 17 touchdowns in his first two Raiders seasons and added three to this year's tally. It marked Crabtree's second three-TD day. He first accomplished the feat last year in Baltimore.
Carr knows Crabtree scoring in bunches is no fluke.
“The thing that young kids need to know about him is that every day Crab catches a ball in practice, he finishes to the end zone,” Carr said. “He’s used to scoring. When you get a guy with talent like that – catching fades, doing everything – obviously it’s easy if he goes up and gets it. Every route that he runs, every day he catches, he finishes. He does it in the offseason, he does it in training camp, he does it in practice.
“There’s no secret when he has a day like this, why he got in the end zone. Not only does he have the talent, but he always works his tail off to make sure he’s finishing.”