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Article posted October 20, 2017 at 5:57 AM
By Colin Ward-Henninger Beverley handcuffed Lonzo on the court, and the emotion carried into the locker room
Article posted October 20, 2017 at 5:48 AM
By John Breech This might go down as the best ending of the 2017 season
Article posted October 20, 2017 at 5:35 AM
By Colin Ward-Henninger Ball’s eagerly awaited first NBA game didn’t go the way Laker fans hoped
Article posted October 20, 2017 at 5:19 AM
Derek Carr and Amari Cooper saved the Oakland Raiders‘ season with standout performances during a thrilling 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum on Thursday Night Football.
The Raiders’ campaign has been resurrected and the team’s Super Bowl aspirations remain intact even after a 3-4 start.
Why? The Chiefs are beatable after losing two straight contests. Meanwhile, Jack Del Rio’s squad displayed resiliency and found a way to win despite trailing 30-21 as it entered the fourth quarter.
A new scapegoat emerged every week during the team’s downturn.
Offensive coordinator Todd Downing, wide receiver Amari Cooper, running back Marshawn Lynch and backup quarterback EJ Manuel each took a turn.
Cooper, in particular, felt the brunt of disappointment after managing only 146 yards through six games. The 2015 fourth overall pick couldn’t even manage to average nine yards per reception. Everything changed against the Chiefs.
The Raiders receiver caught 11 passes for a career-high 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In fact, Cooper became the first Oakland target to produce 200 receiving yards in 52 years, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Cooper still experienced inconsistency with a pair of drops, but Carr knew exactly who to target late in the contest. Trailing 30-24 with 2:11 left to play, the Raiders quarterback looked to the re-emerging star.
The game-winning drive began with a 15-yard completion to Cooper. The receiver turned a short pass into a big play with a tone-setting first down.
The batterymates connected again three plays later for 39 yards to place Oakland in Kansas City territory. Other receivers took over at that point, but Cooper already did enough damage.
After struggling for numerous weeks, the two-time 1,000-yard receiver had two things create space for him.
First, the Raiders used far more play action, particularly early in the contest, to open passing lanes.
Running backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington combined for 64 yards on 18 carries to keep Kansas City’s defense honest. Marshawn Lynch only had two carries for nine yards before being ejected for running onto the field and making contact with an official.
The incident occurred after officials called cornerback Marcus Peters for a late hit to Carr. The Raiders offensive line didn’t take kindly to the defensive back’s over-eager approach, and a scuffle occurred. Lynch tried to play peacemaker before he got entangled with an official, who was trying to pry players apart.
Downing leaned heavily on similar run concepts to those the Pittsburgh Steelers used to dominate the Chiefs in Arrowhead four days earlier. Oakland may not have been as effective overall, but the run game helped set the tone early while the Carr and Cooper built confidence.
This was extremely important since Cooper became frustrated with his play and Carr needed to establish a comfort level while dealing with an injured back.
“I think everyone on our team is a little frustrated at something,” the quarterback said last week, per ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez. “… I think if we can go out there and cut it loose and just trust what we have and what God gave us, I think we’ll be better going forward.”
Carr’s words proved prophetic. But the duo’s production didn’t emerge from nowhere. Slight tinkering with the scheme created opportunities.
Aside from increased play-action usage, Cooper found himself working out of the slot.
Cooper, a two-time Pro Bowler, rewarded his coordinator with 45-yard touchdown when he ran free after he lined up as the inside receiver:
However, Cooper couldn’t deliver without his quarterback.
Carr isn’t fully healthy, yet he played his best game of the season when the team appeared to have its proverbial back against the wall.
A loss meant the Raiders would have dropped to 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the division. They weren’t crawling out of that hole even with nine games to play. After all, the Chiefs were the NFL‘s best team.
But the $125 million man loves to beat the odds, and he’s done it more than any other quarterback since the start of the 2015 campaign, per NFL Research:
The 26-year-old quarterback was far from perfect. He hung up too many passes, threw into double coverage on numerous occasions, missed targets and didn’t look comfortable in the pocket.
Carr still made the necessary throws to win.
In fact, he threw two touchdown passes before finally being credited with the game-winning score. Jared Cook came up short on the first. Offensive pass interference nullified the second. Carr required Crabtree to catch a short comeback in the front left portion of the end zone during an untimed down to capture the victory:
The quarterback’s ability to roll to his left and throw a rocket despite a transverse process fracture in his back is nothing short of astounding.
Oakland needed every one of Carr’s 417 passing yards to overcome the rival Chiefs.
“It was huge,” All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack said, per Gutierrez. “Everybody knew what was at stake.”
When Carr and Cooper click, the Raiders can stick with the NFL’s best. The pair can’t take a step back after Thursday’s performance. The AC-DC connection will be needed if Oakland plans to stay fully charged.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: NFL news on BleacherReport.com
Article posted October 20, 2017 at 5:18 AM
By Chip Patterson Memphis outscored Houston 42-21 in a wild second half win on the road