Jared Cook scanned the Baltimore Ravens coverage. It was, by Cook’s eyes, set up for a big, big play.
The Raiders tight end shifted focus back to Derek Carr. The franchise quarterback was already looking in his direction.
The pair exchanged a knowing glance. And, without a word or even a hand signal, it was on.
Cook ran flat right toward the sideline and then suddenly turned up field.
Carr, however, was in trouble. The Ravens rush was bearing down, sending him away from the play.
“Derek did a great job, because he was getting drilled when he threw that ball,” Cook said. “He was getting hit as he was throwing. He left the ball outside and I just made a play on it.”
The throw was a little short, but just far enough for Cook to make a left-handed grab while falling backward. He tightroped the sideline, but never set foot out of bounds.
“He just laughed afterward and said, ‘just put it in my vicinity,’” Carr said. “To keep his foot in and make the catch one-handed – that was huge. We needed that.”
Cook has come up huge for Carr time and again this season, as the lone consistent presence during a season where the offense has crumbled around him. The Raiders are playing two rookie tackles, including first-rounder in Kolton Miller who has battled knee sprains. Kelechi Osemele has missed some games. Marshawn Lynch, Brandon LaFell and Donald Penn are on IR. Amari Cooper got traded. Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant have battled injury and spells of ineffectiveness.
Cook as been a constant. The versatile tight end has 47 catches for 607 yards and five touchdowns. Those last two stats are team highs, by a long shot. Cook’s on pace for career highs in catches, yards, touchdowns, yards per catch and plays over 20 yards and average yards after the catch.
Cook was asked about his individual accomplishments after Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Ravens.
He replied with a simple no comment. Didn’t want to pat himself on the back with the team struggling so. He isn’t about contributing to losses, either. Cook and Carr know their connection is vital to the Raiders producing good times down the stretch.
“That’s my guy, and he knows that,” Carr said. “We talk often, and he comes up to me and says, ‘we can do this or do that,’ When we’re on the field, he knows I’m coming to him because he sees the coverage the way I see it. Having him be steady is a huge help. He has been here two years now, and he’s in my ear all the time. When you have that…it’s been really nice to have that. He works his tail off, and he’s always there for me.”