ALAMEDA -- Trayvon Mullen logged his second professional interception. The Raiders rookie cornerback caught a ball straight from Patrick Mahomes, in the end zone.
Pick. Touchback. Possession claimed. Officials on the field confirmed it.
All turnovers and scoring plays, as we know well by now, are reviewed by eyes in the sky.
Those watching saw Mullen commit pass interference. It doesn’t matter that wasn’t called on the field, or that PI judgments are rarely overturned upon review, even after a specific coach’s challenge.
Mullen got flagged by 345 Park Ave. Believe it or not, true freaking story.
“We had an interception we thought we did intercept that was turned over by the Wizard of Oz or somebody,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said after a 40-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs “I don’t know what happened on that. That was a big play in the game no doubt.”
The Chiefs took possession at three yards from paydirt and scored on the next play. That play didn’t cost Mullen’s Raiders a game. The result had been decided long before. While a call went against him, the second-round draft pick didn’t let the outcome erase the athletic play originally made.
“My goal is to make those types of plays. I didn’t let the call get to me,” Mullen said after the game. “I believe I’m a great player continuing to get better. I’m going to keep being aggressive and working to make big plays.”
That’s the right attitude for a young player developing on the job, someone tasked to both help his team win now while individually developing for a better future. That two-pronged attack has been asked from all contributing Raiders rookies.
Mullen ranks among them, given a starting job after Gareon Conley was traded to Houston near midseason. The Silver and Black need him to play well and progress, understanding full well that athletic plays and mistakes will be made.
In Mullen’s case, late in the fourth quarter, both happened on the same play.
“I can live with that call, because I know that I’m going to continue making plays and continue to get better,” Mullen said. “When plays present themselves, I’m going to work hard trying to make them.”
What was Mullen thinking after that review went against him?
“That I’m going to have to go back on the field,” Mullen said, “And make another big play.”
The Raiders are seeing good things from their confident young cornerback, who is immensely talented but can be prone to aggressive mistakes that should tone become less prevalent with experience.
The Clemson product was targeted nine times by the Chiefs -- rookie initiation’s in full swing –but gave up just three catches for 33 yards. He had two nice pass breakups, though the pass interference call will be held against his final line.
“He’s getting better,” Gruden said. “He had some really good plays [Sunday]. He was obviously flagged a few times for penalties. One of them, I can’t quite say where it came from, but it was a big reversal in the game. He made a couple great plays against a great receiver and I think he’s getting confidence. I think he’s getting better. I think he performed better and he’s performing better and better each week.”