Chiefs-Raiders takeaways: Carr saves Oakland's year with walk-off TD in wild game
The Raiders beat the Chiefs, 31-30, on Thursday night thanks to Derek Carr's heroics
Carr rescued the Raiders with a walk-off touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on an untimed down. Simultaneously, he saved their season. At 3-4, the Raiders' playoff aspirations are very much alive despite repeatedly flatlining during Thursday night's 31-30 win over the now 5-2 Chiefs. If the Raiders had lost, their playoff hopes would've been KO'd by a team that has tormented them for years. Instead, the Raiders overcame a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter with an improbable game-winning drive that Oakland -- a city that'll soon be forced to say goodbye to their Raiders -- will never forget.
When it mattered most -- when his team needed a savior -- Carr came through by just winning, baby. Trailing by six points with 2:11 remaining in the fourth quarter, Carr got the ball at his own 15-yard line. A 15-yard pass to Amari Cooper got the Raiders moving. A 13-yard completion to Jared Cook on fourth-and-11 from the Chiefs' 42-yard line kept them alive. A deep completion to Cook seemingly won them the game when Cook skidded into the end zone, until the officials determined after a review that Cook was touched down at the 1-yard line.
A completion to Crabtree with three seconds remaining seemingly won them the game, until an official flagged Crabtree for offensive pass interference. A drop in the end zone by Cook on what appeared to be the final play of the game seemingly lost them game, until the Chiefs were penalized for holding. An incompletion to Cordarrelle Patterson on an untimed down seemingly lost them the game again, until the Chiefs got called for another penalty.
A two-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree near the pylon actually tied the game.
A successful extra point by Giorgio Tavecchio ended the game.
That's how the Raiders pulled out the guttiest, strangest, and most important fourth quarter comeback of the season. That's how the Raiders ended their four-game losing skid -- and their five-game losing streak against the Chiefs. That's why the Raiders are still alive in the playoff hunt.
Back to the beginning of the game, which was wacky and fun throughout the entirety of the night. The Chiefs began with a 53-yard field goal courtesy Harrison Butker. And then, the fun began. On the Raiders' first series, they dialed up a flea-flicker that involved one of the most blatant uncalled offensive pass interferences. The end result? No flag and a 38-yard touchdown from Carr to Cooper.
And so, we were off. The Chiefs didn't need to shove aside the Raiders' secondary to reach the end zone. After a couple of big-chunk plays by MVP and Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Kareem Hunt, Alex Smith hit his favorite target, Travis Kelce, for a go-ahead 10-yard touchdown.
The Raiders struck back with a similar formula: Carr hit Cooper for another touchdown, this one for 45 yards.
So, the first four possessions of the game resulted in 24 total points. Finally, the teams exchanged punts, but those two drives ended up being nothing more than a brief intermission from the main explosive event. The Chiefs followed up with a three-play, 99-yard drive that gave them a 17-14 lead. That drive ended with a 64-yard touchdown bomb to Tyreek Hill.
The explosion wasn't limited to scoring. Midway through the second quarter, a brief scuffle broke out after the Chiefs wrapped up Carr and hit him a split-second late (it seemed like a ticky-tacky call). As Raiders left tackle Donald Penn and Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters went at it, Lynch ran onto the field to help separate the two sides. He ended up putting his hands on an official and got tossed from the game.
At halftime, the Chiefs led 20-14 with two missed field goals by the Raiders looming large. The Raiders, once again, struck back, though. If you -- like me -- thought they'd unravel after the chaos of the fight in the second quarter, you -- like me -- were wrong. After a deep pass interference penalty called on Peters (see below), the Raiders punched it in on the ground, taking a one-point lead.
More craziness ensued. On the ensuing drive, Smith targeted Albert Wilson deep downfield. After a brief detour, the ball landed in Wilson's arms and he jogged into the end zone for a 63-yard touchdown. This should've been an interception, not a touchdown that handed the Chiefs a six-point advantage.
Another field goal pushed the Chiefs' lead to two-scores (nine points) entering the fourth quarter. Suddenly, the Raiders' season was on life support. Desperation is one hell of a drug, though. The Raiders didn't quit. After settling for a chip shot field goal to trim the lead to six, they forced a punt. When their offense failed to move the ball, the defense held again, forcing another punt with 2:38 remaining.
Carr had a chance to rescue the Raiders' season. So, he did.
Read on for eight takeaways from the game:
1. Derek Carr: Just win
Carr's stat line looks impressive. He went 29 of 52 for 417 yards (8.0 YPA), three touchdowns, no picks, and a 101.2 passer rating. But he wasn't nearly as good as the numbers suggest.
Carr wasn't at his best for most of Thursday night. His passes sailed wildly over his receivers' heads. His balls clanged off the hands of would-be interceptions. His footwork looked skittish in the pocket. He lost a fumble in the pocket, but got bailed out by a phantom penalty. This was a common sight:
But after what he pulled at the end, nobody will care. And rightly so. Carr's still working his way back from a back injury and the Chiefs usually have his number. Sure, he got lucky at times, but he also did enough to win. This isn't the time to criticize him. He just led the most important comeback of the 2017 season -- in the entire NFL.
If Carr's inconsistency continues, the Raiders won't qualify for the playoffs. But for now, they're alive. And they have Carr's late-game heroics to thank for that.
2. Alex Smith: Still rolling
It's been seven games and Alex Smith:
- is still interception-less
- has thrown as many touchdowns as he did all of last season
- is a legitimate MVP candidate
On Thursday night, Smith's incredible season continued when he completed 25 of 36 passes for 342 yards (9.5 YPA), three touchdowns, no picks, and a 127.3 passer rating.
Like Carr, Smith benefited from several dropped interceptions. He clearly wasn't at his best. But don't blame the result on Smith, who continues to play the best football of his career.
3. Credit Raiders' defense
For most of the game, the Raiders' defense was gouged. They ended up allowing 425 yards and 30 points.
But give them credit for forcing two straight punts in the fourth quarter when the Raiders trailed by six. Carr actually had a chance to lead a game-winning drive earlier in the fourth quarter, but led the Raiders to a three-and-out instead. To get one more chance, he needed the Raiders' defense to hold.
4. Hunt joins Dickerson
Hunt didn't break off any home runs, but he was his normal incredible self. For a seventh straight game, he totaled at least 100 yards from scrimmage. In all, he went for 87 yards on the ground and 30 yards through the air.
A sample of his work:
Oh and then there's this:
Hunt might just be the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year and MVP.
5. Amari Cooper busts his slump
In the first six games of the season, Cooper caught 18 passes for 146 yards and one touchdown. He finally awakened on Thursday night, though, hauling in 11 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns, which means he exceeded his season yardage total in one game.
He started off quickly, getting away with offensive pass interference to bring in the flea-flicker touchdown. By the time the Raiders' first drive ended with that touchdown, Cooper had already eclipsed his first quarter yardage from his previous six games combined.
Also of note:
There was nothing lucky about his second touchdown on the Raiders' second series.
Cooper didn't catch the final touchdown, but he did get the Raiders rolling on the game-winning drive.
6. Tyreek Hill: So damn explosive
Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs' best pass catcher who's actually listed as a wide receiver, might just be the most explosive player in the league. Above, you saw his 64-yard touchdown, which was eighth touchdown of 50-plus yards.
And then there's this:
More impressive were the plays didn't result in touchdowns. Hill demonstrated on Thursday night that he's more than just a home-run hitter -- the NFL's Joey Gallo. He ran a variety of routes and caught immediate passes in important situations. He looked like an actual polished receiver.
He finished with 125 yards on six catches.
7. About Beast Mode
No, Marshawn Lynch should not have ran onto the field to insert himself in a fight. He should not have gotten himself ejected by pushing and grabbing an official. He ended up hurting his team by doing so. But his intentions were pure.
Lynch is close with Peters (both are Oakland natives) and wanted to break up the fight. Also, though it initially looked like he left the game after getting tossed, he was spotted watching the game in the stands.
And he celebrated with his teammates in the locker room.
"They can say what they want but one thing's for certain: Family do come first," Peters told The Mercury News after the game.
8. What's next?
The going won't get any easier for the Chiefs, who'll host the 3-2 Broncos on Week 8 of "Monday Night Football" in a pivotal division matchup. As for the Raiders, they'll be forced to travel to Buffalo for a game against the 3-2 Bills.
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