OAKLAND – Khalil Mack approached cornerback Antonio Hamtilton and asked for a favor.
Three seconds. That’s how much time the Raiders secondary needed to buy the star edge rusher. With three seconds, Mack believed he could reach the quarterback.
Defensive backs did their job. Mack did his.
He bull-rushed his way into the backfield, cut inside and slammed Cam Newton to the turf. The ball came loose. Mack fell on it. The Raiders won 35-32.
Mack came through on a decisive fourth-quarter fourth down to secure victory.
That punctuated an awesome game where Mack had a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception returned for a touchdown.
That’s the equivalent of hitting for the cycle.
According to ESPN that was the first time someone accomplished all five feats in the same game since Charles Woodson did it in 2009.
“That’s great company right there,” Mack said. “”C-Wood, that’s my big bro. We talk all the time. He tells me, ‘It’s time for you to take over games.’ Fortunately, I was in position to do a little bit of that today.”
His feats have impressed those who see him every day. Those guys believe Khalil Mack is the league’s best defender, who comes up big in big moments.
“He’s in a class of his own,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “I’m not saying he’s better than anybody, through I think he is. I think he is the best football player I’ve ever played with and seen. I think he’s done things that no one has ever seen before. I don’t want to put him in a box. The sky’s the limit for him.”
Sunday’s game showcased Mack’s rare agility, which was crystal clear on a pick-six late in the first half.
Mack read Cam Newton’s eyes, which told him exactly where his pass was going. He halted his route, stepped in front of a running back and intercepted a pass.
He took a few steps into the end zone for a touchdown that put his Raiders up big. That sequence looked easy. His Black Hole leap was a bit harder. He jumped into the crowd and spun to face the field, perfect form even for those who score often.
“I’ve been waiting to do that for three years,” Mack said. “(The fans) looked like they were ready, they looked like they were ready for the impact. I had to make sure I could make it up there first.”