Erik Harris

Raiders left shocked by ugly collapse vs. Jaguars in Oakland finale

Raiders left shocked by ugly collapse vs. Jaguars in Oakland finale

OAKLAND -- The kegs were tapped early Sunday morning in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot. A party that was equal parts rave and costume party with a hint of funeral got fired up as Raider fans prepared to send their beloved Silver and Black off to Vegas with a win over the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars and a rager fitting of those who ramble to the hallowed, rotting Coliseum grounds on fall Sundays. 

Drinks were flowing, carnitas were consumed and the Raiders jumped out to a 16-3 halftime lead. Tyrell Williams scored on a 40-yard touchdown to open the game. The party powder keg was preparing to be lit and they would have had to drag every fan out of the stadium. The lights would only go out once every beer had been consumed and every tale of SIlver and Black glory had been told and told again. 

Then, it all came crashing down. 

These are, after all, the Raiders. Not the Patriots. There was to be no happy ending. They delivered one in Charles Woodson's final game in 2015. And again on Christmas Eve last year in what could have been the final Oakland game. 

The third time was not a charm. 

The Jaguars scored 17 unanswered second-half points, aided by a blown call on a Derek Carr slide, a Williams drop and a missed Daniel Carlson field goal that set them up for their 75-yard game-winning drive. 

Final score: Jaguars 20, Raiders 16

"Yeah, I'm still emotional, like angry about it," Carr said after the loss. "There were a few plays we left out there, but there's nothing I can say right now that's going to make anybody feel better." 

The atmosphere turned from rave to riot on a dime. 

When officials ruled Carr slid out of bounds and not inbounds, giving the Jaguars life and time to get the ball back, cries of, "F--k you, ref" rained down before the Jags plunged a dagger into the heart of Oakland. 

"It sucks," Maxx Crosby said, unable to process the loss. "We lost. We had the game in our hands. We didn't finish. We didn't do enough to win. Yeah, it hurts." 

Those who had shown up to celebrate the team, the memories and bid adieu to the Silver and Black let their frustrations out when the Jaguars took the lead with 31 seconds remaining. Bottles were thrown. Concourse nachos, retail value $11, were fired into the end zone in disgust. The fake cheese sauce serving as a perfect representation of the effort the Raiders' secondary gave on the Jaguars' game-winning drive. 

When Carr's Hail Mary attempt clanged off the head of wide receiver Keelan Doss and onto the turf, the anger reached a boiling point

Linebacker Marquel Lee and Carr were booed as they went into the Black Hole. Bottles still raining down from the stands. 

Jon Gruden, long a lover of the "nuts" in the Black Hole, gave a cursory glance, and it was exit stage left. 

There were no words for the loss. No words to console those losing the football team they love so much. No words to explain away a meltdown that fit perfectly with an Oakland farewell that included the Coliseum crowd jeering a BART announcement about a broken elevator. 

Most fans in attendance might never see their Raiders live again. Their lasting memory will be a collapse against a team that had lost six straight games and had two first downs midway through the third quarter. 

"The energy just felt like we were going to come away with that win," safety Erik Harris said. "And all of a sudden it was like the tables were turned. At what point did it happen, I couldn’t even tell you. I’m still sitting here like, ‘How did we lose that game?’"

Search for answers but there are none to be found. The Raiders plain and simple choked. 

The emotions of the moment weren't too big for them. Most of the players haven't been Raiders long enough to have a connection with Oakland or the fans. But no matter if they have been Raiders for a day or six years, they will forever be apart of the Coliseum finale meltdown. Sure to hold an unwanted place in Raiders franchise lore. 

[RELATED: Gruden apologizes for losing Oakland finale

The parking lot of Oakland Coliseum was expected to be raging long after the Raiders left the field victorious Sunday. Everyone had planned for it, 

Instead, fans, both shocked and disgusted, gave parting boos, middle fingers and other unpleasantries, turned their backs, packed up their stuff and hightailed it home. 

Last one out, turn off the lights.

Raiders' Erik Harris explains why 'dream came true' in win vs. Chargers

Raiders' Erik Harris explains why 'dream came true' in win vs. Chargers

ALAMEDA -- Raiders safety Erik Harris intercepted Philip Rivers on Thursday night and immediately took off down the right sideline. He stiff-armed a Chargers offensive lineman and outran everyone else on his way to the end zone.

He looked into the raucous Oakland Coliseum crowd while crossing the field, searching for his family. Harris found his wife and four children and pointed right to them.

This one, Harris said without speaking, is for you.

The Harris family didn’t make it to many games last year, Erik’s first season making significant defensive contribution. His youngest son Ellis was too young to travel from their Louisiana home, but the family has made it to four thus far this season.

Thursday night was a good one to attend. Harris had two interceptions, with a third negated by penalty, including the pick-six in a 27-24 victory over the Chargers.

“Last time I had a pick-six when they were in the crowd, [his twins Isaiah and Elijah] were 2 or 3 years old [– his daughter Esme is a bit younger --] but this time the older ones knew what was going on,” Harris said. “I ran over to them and started pointing to them. They told me after they saw me doing that, which made it an emotional, heartfelt moment.”

The whole night was something out of a script. Harris persevered through difficult childhood circumstances while embarking upon an incredible football journey from a NCAA Division II college to the CFL and then the NFL, with side jobs as UPS and a potato chip factory in between, was featured on the “Thursday Night Football” pregame show.

Then Harris balls out. Then the Raiders win, and Harris gets invited up to the NFL Network set, an honor bestowed on the game’s most impactful player. He was able to bring his wife Theresa and their four kids on stage at the end to share this big moment with his family.

“I was telling my wife this morning that Thursday didn’t even feel real,” Harris said. “They shared my story, then I played well and then everybody was able to join me on the set. It was almost like it was staged. It felt like that honestly. It was pretty cool.”

[RELATED: Swearinger ready to help Raiders' secondary, win title]

Harris has had big NFL moments before, but this was something altogether different. He was able to share his backstory with a massive audience and then show on the field what can happen when you won’t quit.

“That was one of best things to come out of the whole night,” Harris said. “My goal was always to make the NFL, but on Thursday night my real dream came true. It provided a platform for my story, my testimony to be heard around the country and the world, really, and inspire people to never give up.”

D.J. Swearinger ready to bring immediate aid to Raiders' ailing secondary

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USATSI

D.J. Swearinger ready to bring immediate aid to Raiders' ailing secondary

Yes, the Raiders are 5-4. Yes, the playoffs are a realistic possibility.

But issues abound in Oakland.

Jon Gruden's gritty club has fought through a rash of injuries, a five-game road trip, the suspension of Vontaze Burfict and Antonio Brown's decision to go AWOL to be in the thick of the playoff hunt in November. But the Silver and Black's secondary is running on emergency power after Karl Joseph suffered a season-ending injury on the final play of the Raiders' Week 10 win over the Chargers.

With Joseph out for the season, that means the Raiders are missing both of their starting safeties -- Johnathan Abram has been out since Week 1 -- as well as their starting middle linebacker and two defensive ends. Gruden is trying to patch the defense together as the Raiders prepare for a playoff run.

D.J. Swearinger is the latest member of the duct tape brigade. The Raiders signed the veteran safety Saturday, and hope he can slide in immediately and give them some relief in the backend. 

It's hard for players to come in cold off the street and learn a new system, but Swearinger played in a similar scheme in Arizona, so he isn't worried about the learning curve. 

"It's not a new system for me because Arizona ran the exact same system," Swearinger said Monday. "Just got to get the different terminology, which is sort of the similar terminology in Arizona --- almost identical -- with a few coverages so it's not a hard transition for me. I'm going to fit right in, do my studying and make it happen."

Swearinger played in four games for the Cardinals this season before being released. The 28-year-old veteran safety has played for four teams prior to the Raiders, including two stints with the Cardinals, notching 14 interceptions and 40 passes defensed in his seven-year NFL career.

He's versatile, experienced and likes to hit. Most of all he's hungry and ready to seize the moment, both for himself and the Raiders.

"It's a great opportunity, man," Swearinger said. "I'm happy to be here. Happy to be with a coach like coach Gruden. I know what he means to football, know what he brings to the table. I'm excited to be here, they are doing some great stuff here. I'm ready to add whatever I can to help this team win and win a championship."

With both their starting safeties done for the season, the Raiders are in the unfortunate position of having to rely on a guy that's been in the building for only couple days. Swearinger has the talent, and the Raiders need him to be at his best right away.

"I like Swearinger," Gruden said Monday. "He played for my brother in Washington. I was a broadcaster at one point, I spent a lot of time in South Carolina with my friend [Steve] Spurrier, so I know a little bit about Swearinger. I think he's a good player, he just has to put it all together. That's what he needs to do. He's got to start that process today. We need the very best of Swearinger."

[RELATED: Ferrell arrives with statement game in Raiders' TNF win]

He's spent the last month waiting for an opportunity, viewing this tough Raiders team from afar.

"They got grit and it starts with the head coach," Swearinger said of his new team. "I love the head coach, I've always loved coach Gruden. From way back in college, from him doing Monday nights. I know what he brings to football and I know playing for a coach like that we're going to bring it every time we step on the field. He expects that. The guys in the locker room ... there are some young guys but they are talented and they want to go to work and you can help but come in and get with the coach."

The Raiders will face an 0-9 Bengals team Sunday in Week 11, a vertically challenged team that should present limited problems for a new safety getting his feet wet in silver and black. Swearinger prides himself on being a physical safety with underrated cover skills. He's tough, emotional and hard working.

Gruden and the Raiders need all of that to translate into winning football in the backend of the Raiders' secondary. The playoffs might depend on it.