The Oakland Raiders enjoyed their last win 368 days ago during the latter part of the 2013 season. But tonight that winless streak went down in flames, as the Raiders used a game-winning touchdown catch by free agent wide receiver James Jones and a HUGE seven-yard sack by outside linebacker Sio Moore to secure a 24-20 win at O.co Coliseum over the Kansas City Chiefs.
It’s really something to explain how this win came about for the Raiders. They relied on three unsung players in Jones, Moore, and second year running back Latavius Murray to will them to their first win in more than one calendar year.
Jones whose always been known for his sticky and/or reliable hands, hasn’t had a 100 yard game since Week 2 versus Houston and he hadn’t scored a touchdown in five straight games before tonight’s game.
Jones also didn’t have a 100 yard game tonight but that’s beside the point. For much of the season he has been that quiet worker bee waiting for his chance to do something big and he did so tonight with his game-winning catch.
Moore who had just two sacks coming into the game and him not really being known as a standout pass rusher, but one who can aggravate a left or right tackle and quarterback when he has to, sacked Smith on the Chiefs’ second to last play of the game.
Jones who signed a 3-year $10 million contact with $3.6 million of it guaranteed this past offseason, was quiet for much of this game. But late in the fourth quarter, he got behind the Chiefs (7-4 overall, 1-2 AFC West) entire defense to secure a 9 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Derek Carr (18 of 35 for 174 yards, 1 touchdown pass and no picks) with 1:42 left in the game.
From the point when Jones (5 catches for 47 yards and 1 score) scored that touchdown, the Raiders (1-10 overall, 1-3 AFC West) defense did the best they could to stop the Chiefs offense which included soft coverage and trying to make the Chiefs run out the game clock. That plan worked as the Raiders snapped their 16-game losing streak which dates back to the 2013 season.
The games’ first scoring drive was keyed by a mixture of receivers which included a key 3rd down and 4 reception by Brice Butler to the KC 11 yard line. Murray, who was inserted into the lineup on this particular drive—-the Raiders second possession of the game—-took a Carr handoff and raced 11 yards down near the left sideline and into the end zone. That play gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead.
Murray played in 10 games coming into tonight’s matchup, and he only carried the ball 10 times and was without a touchdown run. But by the 6:33 mark of the first quarter and on one drive, Murray had 2 carries for 17 yards and 1 touchdown. Not bad for a guy who was fourth on the team in carries coming into the game and who spent his whole rookie year (2013) on injured reserve.
Murray’s name will be talked about tomorrow and not just in Oakland. And here’s why. On the first play of the Raiders’ first drive of the second quarter and from the OAK 10, Murray took Carr’s handoff at the OAK 5 yard line and then cut back to his left, and very soon he was off to the races down the left side and then in the end zone to complete a 90 yard touchdown run.
And of course, that untouched 90 yard touchdown run by Murray was the longest play of his career in the NFL. Moreover, that run is the third longest run in Raiders history behind Terrelle Pryor’s 93 yard run (2013) and Bo Jackson’s 92 and 91 yard runs in 1989 and 1987 respectively.
Murray only had 54 yards rushing coming into this game in two years, but by the late second quarter he had 4 carries for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns; that would also be his final rushing yards, carries and touchdown total for the rest of the game. More on that later in this story.
Just think about this for a second. The Raiders ran 628 offensive plays coming into the game, and Murray only participated in 76 of those plays which works out to just 12.1 percent activity. But his two touchdown runs in the first half helped give the Raiders the impetus to win their first regular season game since November 17, 2013—a 28-23 win over the Houston Texans.
But Murray left the game late in the second quarter, when he took a vicious hit under the chin from Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith. As if the Raiders 32nd ranked running game didn’t have enough troubles, Murray was gone for the game with a possible concussion.
On the Chiefs’ ensuing drive, Oakland’s Denarius Moore muffed a Dustin Colquitt punt deep in his own territory that was recovered by Chiefs special teams maven Frank Zombo at the OAK 11. That recovery set up a successful 24 yard field goal by former NFLPA Collegiate Bowl participant and kicker Cairo Santos. It was now 14-3 Raiders with 7:19 left in the second quarter.
The Raiders upped their lead to 17-3 when placekicker Sebastian Janikowski booted a 40 yard field goal at the end of a 9-play 51 yard drive.
On the ensuing kickoff, Chiefs running back Knile Davis gave his team some hope when he took a Janikowski kickoff up the middle for 46 yards to the KC 40 yard line. That return set up a Travis Kelce (4 catches for 67 yards and no score) 21 yard reception to the KC 28 yard line versus Raiders strong safety Brandian Ross. Davis’ return and Kelce’s reception set up tight end Anthony Fasano’s 19 yard touchdown catch which eventually made the score 17-10 Raiders with 1:52 left in the third quarter.
Running back Jamal Charles (122 yards total offense and 1 score) is an extreme bother and pest to opposing defenses. And he furthered that league-wide reputation with an opportunistic, determined, and tackle breaking 30 yard touchdown reception from quarterback Alex Smith (20 of 35 for 234 yards, 2 touchdowns and no picks) that tied the game at 17-17 with 12:20 left in the game.
The Chiefs’ next offensive drive was keyed by a Frankie Hammond down the left side 28 yard punt return to the OAK 37. Hammond may have scored on that play if it weren’t for a tackle by Raiders punter Marquette King out of bounds. That return set up a successful Santos 25 yard field goal to give Kansas City their first lead of the night at 20-17 with 9:03 left in the game.
Then later in the fourth quarter there was of course the Jones game deciding touchdown reception, that culminated a drive that took 17 plays and 7:21 of game clock to complete.
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