Raiders did so much to lose and just enough to win
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Art Spander in Chiefs, Raiders, articles, football

By Art Spander

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Raiders did so much to lose this one. Then they did just enough to win.

Those complaints about the NFL, that it’s dull, that the anthem protests have ruined the game, that the fans don’t care? Well, the head coach of the Raiders, Jack Del Rio, certainly cares. The sport enthralls him.

For the very reasons that were present Thursday night at the Coliseum, tension, passion, frustration and then, with 0:00 left on the clock, exhilaration.

“That’s why we love this game,” said Del Rio. “We talked about love, loving each other, loving the opportunity to compete, loving the challenges that are part of what we do. Love to be in the theater when you’re putting your neck out there for the whole world to watch.”

At least the part of the world that included the 55,090 in the stadium and the millions in front of television sets.

The winning play was the last play of a game that early in the fourth quarter seemed like Oakland’s last chance.

But headed for a fifth straight defeat, the Raiders turned things around and headed elatedly to the locker room with a 31-30 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Derek Carr, who had completed 28 passes for 415 yards, completed his 29th for two more yards and a touchdown to Michael Crabtree just across the goal line, and then Georgio Taveccio kicked the extra point.

The Raiders somehow managed to get the victory, despite having allowed KC to go 99 yards in three plays for a touchdown — so much for field position. Despite being thwarted when, inexplicably and stupidly, hometown guy Marshawn Lynch left the bench, shoved an official and was ejected. Despite being burned by scoring pass plays of 64 and 63 yards.

The win was absolutely vital. “Yeah,” said Del Rio. “It’s been vital. It was vital last week. It was vital the week before. It’s vital to win in this league.”

Especially when the Raiders appeared destined to lose to a team they rarely beat.

The closing sequence was chaotic, offensive pass interference against Crabtree that nullified an apparent touchdown with three seconds to go, defensive holding with time expired, defensive holding again and finally the completion for the touchdown.

The purists tell us the only thing that matters in a sport is the score, but that would be like only watching the final act of “Hamlet” where they’re carrying him. Sure, getting the victory was paramount, but the way this one played out, with excellence and mistakes, with leads that couldn’t be held and passes that could be held, was so much a part of the tale.

The Raiders go in front, 14-10, their punter Marquette King kicks a ball that is downed on the Chiefs’ one and almost before anyone knew it, three plays, 1 minute 32 seconds to be exact, KC was ahead, 17-14.

Then there was Lynch, Beast Mode. He hadn’t done much, two carries for nine yards, when midway through the second quarter there was an unnecessary roughness call on KC that seemingly kept alive an Oakland drive. But Lynch, from the sideline, dashed onto the field and into an altercation. Next thing you saw, he was manhandling an official, the Raiders had first and 25 and he had a seat in the locker room.

“I was disappointed,” said Del Rio.”We were in good shape. Next thing I knew he was being tossed.”

It was the tossing by Carr, his second game after returning from a broken bone in his lower back, that meant more. He passed for three touchdowns including the game winner.

“We’re going to find a way,” said Del Rio of the Raiders' grit. “Our guys came in with a great mindset, and we were determined to leave here with a victory.”

They did. “It was huge,” said the said the coach.

And incredibly exciting.

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