Raiders rejoice after thrilling last-minute win

OAKLAND — They did it. In front of the entire country Thursday night, with no other football games going.

The previously-winless Raiders pulled off a major upset against Kansas City, scoring a last-minute touchdown to sink the Chiefs 24-20.

They did it on two scores from new starting running back Latavius Murray and excellent defensive play. And, of course, a last minute drive ending in a James Jones touchdown reception.

If Murray wasn’t already being considered as a long term starter, he is after four carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns, one coming on a 90-yard-carry.

Though Murray left the game early in the second quarter with a concussion and didn’t return, his early burst was enough to put the Raiders into the win column.

 

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

Even with running back Jamaal Charles on the field — who scored five touchdowns the last time he came to town in December of 2013 — Oakland’s defense was able to contain Charles  and keep the rest of Kansas City’s offense in check.

Some of the biggest plays came from two members of Oakland’s 2013 draft class.

Linebacker Sio Moore came away with 12 tackles and a sack. Second year cornerback D.J. Hayden made his presence felt with three big hits early in the game and one pass defensed.

Oakland’s linebacking group finally looked like the unit it was supposed to be, covering the pass well and applying a substantial amount of pressure to Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.

The Raiders‘ luck eventually began to dwindle, though, with a fourth-quarter touchdown catch and run by Charles, who juked three defenders on the play.

Without Murray in the game, Oakland’s offense looked the lackluster unit fans have become accustomed to. But their final and game-winning touchdown came on a drive that the Raiders have been seeking all season.

17 plays that took over seven minutes off the game clock sealed the deal. A would-be final Chiefs drive fizzled before Carr kneeled to and ended the winless streak that spanned more one calendar year.

That doesn’t mean it was without some nail-biting theatrics. If someone could make these things up, it might become the next big Broadway hit.

With 40 seconds left, Moore sacked Smith for a big loss which brought up fourth down. Moore and rookie Khalil Mack began celebrating at least 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

All the while, the Chiefs were lining up and just about ready to snap the ball. They did, actually, and yellow flags flew.

Luckily for the Raiders, head coach Tony Sparano called a time out in the nick of time. It was all jokes after, though Sparano and other players said that they’re going to talk about it after the win is savored a little.

Defensive back Charles Woodson jokingly said:

“I told Sio (Moore) that he’s lucky we got the win or we’d have to fight. I’d have to see what kind of fighter he is.”

Woodson, laughing as he said it, also held a serious undertone. The whole defensive side of the locker room was joking about the play as the win’s sweet taste drowned any bitterness.

On the play, Moore said:

“(Justin Tuck) reminded me that there was still a game to be played. And I appreciated it because I had no idea.”

Moore gave credit to the defensive line for his 12 tackles. But it was a marquee game nonetheless from a player who is steadily anchoring himself as one of the top linebackers in the NFL.

The last two drafts were on display in front of a national audience, drawing praise on Twitter from former scouts who are now members of the media and casual fans alike.

Mack recorded only three tackles, though he was all over the field and persistently in the Chiefs backfield.

Perhaps the biggest moment of the game, at least for history’s sake, was a sack from Woodson. The 38-year-old defensive back became the only player in league history with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks.

Not even the likes of Ronnie Lott or Ed Reed have hit the milestone, and Woodson cemented himself in the conversation of the best defensive back of all time. Woodson said:

“I will say yes, because I’ve been playing a long time. But I think what it also says is that I’ve been a productive player. I’ve been able to do a lot of things. I’ve been put in positions to make plays for the teams that I’ve been on.”

Woodson was put in a position to return punts Thursday, another item for the record book. He became the second oldest player in history to return a punt, dating back to 1960, behind only former Raiders receiver Tim Brown.

The idea was broached early in the week, and Sparano told Woodson to just take a fair catch. Woodson said he laughed at his coach:

“Look, if they put me back there, don’t expect me to take a fair catch. If there’s someone in my face, then yeah. If I have a chance to field it and get some yards, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Emphasis on the ‘exactly.’

Woodson is exactly the reason the Raiders have been in games this season, often times in the right place at the right time, and it doesn’t seem like a mistake. During nationally televised interviews, Woodson said that he continues to play because he knows how to play the game.

Much like another defensive player who Oakland brought in.

Tuck has been a mentor to Moore and Mack, bringing the two young players along and helping them reach their full potential. It has paid off to the tune of only one win, but Moore says the team can build on it:

“Prepare for win number two.”

The next chance at a win for Oakland will come on the road at St. Louis, and they’ll have 10 days to prepare.


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