MEXICO CITY – Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will use some wacky formations from time to time to get guys open. Needing a pick-me-up in the fourth quarter, he outlined a play where Amari Cooper set up in the backfield with fullback Jamize Olawale adjacent to him and Jalen Richard out wide.
Cooper leaked into the flat, but Derek Carr was looking to go big. Olawale ran up the right sideline and Carr found him all alone. Then he flashed some sneaky speed and ran away from the competition for a 75-yard touchdown that changed Monday night’s game.
That tied the game early in the fourth quarter and the Raiders scored again to secure a 27-20 victory at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
Olawale has come up with big plays before -- he had a 68-yard gain in similar fashion at Tampa Bay -- but that might’ve been his best yet.
“I saw the corner drop off and I thought the play could really work out,” Olawale said. “Derek made a great throw and I’m happy that I was able to haul it in.”
Carr manipulated coverage with his eyes, and hit his fullback in stride.
“I stepped up and tried to hold the safety inside, and thank the Lord I was able to get the corner to step into the flat and still had time to find Olawale.
“At times like those everybody pats me on the back, but that play only happened because our offensive line gave us time to make it work.”
The play gave the Raiders a jolt, an important factor after Houston proved to be the better team for three quarters.
"It was a huge part for our team," Cooper said. "Everybody was happy on the sidelines and you saw that they felt like the momentum was shifting."
The offense looked flat at times and the run game never got going, but it surged in the second half with Olawale’s play and a 35-yard touchdown catch and run from Amari Cooper that provided the final margin of victory.
The Raiders defense uncharacteristically struggled on third down – Houston converted eight times in 16 tries – but Oakland held strong enough to keep the game close.
The receivers were generally covered well, but Carr got backs involved in the passing game. Olawale had three catches for 90 yards and that huge touchdown. Latavius Murray had five receptions for 59 yards and Jalen Richard had three receptions for 50 yards and the game’s first touchdown.
Olwale does a lot of dirty work that doesn’t show up in the box score, so his teammates were happy to see him in the spotlight.
“’Maze’ is good football player, who does a lot for us on offense and special teams,” center Rodney Hudson said. “I couldn’t be happier for the guy. We see him make plays like that all the time in practice, but he really came through for us when we needed it.”