Raiders Go From Beaten to Not, as True Champions Often Do - NBC Bay Area

Raiders Go From Beaten to Not, as True Champions Often Do

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Dos and Don'ts of Good Sleep
    Ray Ratto
    Raiders go from beaten to not, as true champions often do

    The word “momentum” is largely dependent upon the word “moment,” and yet it is difficult to get players or coaches to acknowledge a particular moment when bad turns to good, or the other way around.
     
    Put another way, when he was asked for the single play when the Oakland Raiders went from being owned by the Buffalo Bills to owning them, wide receiver Amari Cooper smiled wanly and said, “I don’t know. My memory’s not that good.”
     
    Oh, he remembers when the Bills led, 24-9, in the third quarter, and he remembers when the Raiders took their final lead of 38-24. I mean, it was barely 15 minutes of playing time, maybe twice that in actual time, and he was there for a lot of it. So of course he remembers it.
     
    But the singular moment? That’s all filed under “not important enough to spend a lot of time on, especially when another game is 97 hours away."
     
    Minutiae like the answers to questions like “When did things change?” or “How did this loss become this win?” doesn’t interest them. It doesn’t have to. They can apply their own stories to why or when or how, but usually they’re just making it up. As guard Kelechi Osemele put it, “It doesn’t really work like that.
     
    “You’re in the moment, and you don’t sense things like the moment when momentum shifted. You’re just playing. The next day, maybe you’ll see something on film and then it will hit you that something happened right then that might have changed the game, but not right then.”
     
    Fair enough then. You be the judge when Sunday’s looming letdown became the most empirical proof yet that the Raiders are masters of their own fates. It might have been:
     
    * The drive after Mike Gillislee plowed into the end zone from two yards out to give Buffalo its 15-point lead, when quarterback Derek Carr threw precision strikes to Clive Walford (18 yards), Seth Roberts (15) and Michael Crabtree (19, sliding to reach a ball thrown slightly behind him) to set up a three-yard touchdown to Crabtree that reduced a potentially lopsided defeat to a single score.
     
    * The 22-yard punt return by Jalen Richard that set the Raiders up at the Buffalo 38 after the defense’s first three-and-out of the day, followed by the 21-yard burst by Richard that put the Raiders in position for Latavius Murray’s one-yard push to make it 24-23.
     
    * The next Buffalo three-and-out that set the Raiders up at their own 41, from which Carr converted a third-and-10 with a 21-yard throw up the seam to Mychal Rivera, followed two plays later by an elegant 37-yard loft to Cooper, who had gotten behind Kevon Seymour.
     
    * The 55-yard punt by Marquette King that buried the Bills at their own four-yard-line.
     
    * Or the weekly Khalil Mack-Puts-His-Feet-Up-On-Your-Table moment, tipping Tyrod Taylor’s  pass on the first play after King’s punt into the arms of cornerback Nate Allen to set up the game-settling touchdown.
     
    And there might have been more, but why be excessively pedantic? The Raiders used those fifteen minutes and seven seconds to gain 188 yards while holding Buffalo to three, and score 29 points in 28 plays while allowing the Bills 10 plays from scrimmage, not including the three punts. Momentum? Pick a play, any play.
     
    The Raiders are now properly positioned as the most logical alternative to the New England Patriots in the AFC, but have a game Thursday night in soon-to-be-snow-encrusted Kansas City that could turn that back on its head. Win and then win out, and they can be masters of their universe, owning for the moment the tiebreakers over the Patriots that would prevent a trip to Foxborough and a nostalgic confrontation with the High Lord Tuck.
     
    On their hand, lose Thursday, and they are tied with Kansas City without benefit of the first tiebreaker, having been swept by the perpetually hard-to-figure Chiefs.
     
    In other words, momentum in Game 12 is always useful right up to the point where preparation for Game 13 must begin, in the same way that “Is Carr the MVP, or is it Mack?” debates become irrelevant within minutes of their embarkation. As head coach Jack Del Rio explained what he had just supervised, “Is there such a thing as a fast Sunday?”
     
    He had already moved on, because dawdlers get crushed by events. Being the master of your fate is not the same as mastering it, and let us not forget that the Raiders do have that maddening gift for needing fourth quarter comebacks. That they can usually get them is not as comforting as never needing them.
     
    And there are at least four and as many as eight more games to traverse between now and what the Raiders alone have dared to dream.
     
    But Sunday was a day when the Raiders did define themselves as one of the toughest outs in the lineup, and if you want the momentum-shifter to be Buffalo tackle Cordy Glenn’s false start at the end of the third quarter, hey, dance it up. Whether things go according to the Raiders’ grand plan or they don’t, nobody’s going to care either way. All anyone knows today is that they were beaten, and then they were not, and that’s typically how champions are made.