OAKLAND – Michael Crabtree wasn’t happy with his performance on Monday Night Football. He shouldn’t have been. The veteran Raiders reciver was targeted seven times with three receptions for five yards and a few drops in a win over Houston in Mexico City.
He took to Twitter after that game, and vowed to be better next time.
He certainly was.
Crabtree had eight catches for 110 yards in Sunday’s 35-32 victory over the Carolina Panthers, including a 49-yard bomb on the game’s deciding drive.
That was the response Crabtree was hoping for.
“I felt like I’ve had a couple bad games,” Crabtree said. “I wasn’t going to let this game go by without making a few plays. I came out here with that one thing on my mind.”
He saved his best catch for the fourth quarter. He ran deep while in a mismatch with a middle linebacker, caught a high-arching pass from Derek Carr on his back, while being interfered with. His helmet ripped off in the process, and he left it behind as he walked off the field.
Sunday’s performance was the latest in a string of clutch performances where Crabtree showed great value to this offense.
“Michael has been really good for us,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s done that for us really the whole time he’s been here. He’s been really reliable. …We’re certainly glad we have him. He’s one of our playmakers. One of our guys we know we can go to in tough situations and he’s going to find a way. He played big for us today.”
Walford comes up big: Raiders tight end Clive Walford, an occasional contributor in the Raiders offense, had a few big catches against Carolina. He finished with three receptions for 43 yards, but his biggest came in the end zone.
He caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr that, when combined with a two-point conversion from Seth Roberts, tied the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Aldon coming back?: Raiders edge rusher Aldon Smith is eligible to return from a banishment under the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and ESPN reported on Sunday that commissioner Roger Goodell must rule on Smith’s application by Friday.
Containing Cam: The Raiders did a number on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the first half. He finished two quarters with a 1.7 passer rating after getting harassed by the Raiders pass rush.
Newton rallied his team in the third quarter and scored 25 unanswered points, but couldn’t complete the comeback. He finished with 246 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
He also rushed for a touchdown.
First winning season since 2002: The Raiders are 9-2 after the Panthers win, clinching the team’s first winning record since the 2002 season. The players didn’t fixate on that, especially with bigger goals in mind.
“It’s important not to count those things,” Crabtree said. “It’s important to focus only on the next game. You can get caught up in that. I’ve been on some winning teams, but this team right here is special. We have to focus on what’s in front of us.”
This ‘n that: DT Darius Latham suffered an ankle injury during the game. CB DJ Hayden suffered a hamstring strain and did not return. Antonio Hamilton filled in as the team’s third cornerback. …The Raiders are 9-2 for the first time since 2000, and their five-game winning streak is the longest since 2002. …RB Latavius Murray scored his ninth touchdown of the season, which is the highest total by a Raider since 2005. …DL Denico Autry blocked an extra point on Sunday, which was the fourth blocked kick of his career.