WR #89 Amari Cooper touchdown catch and run in Raiders 31-30 win over Kansas City Chiefs
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times! A Thursday Night Football (TNF) game in Oakland, between two old AFL rivals (Raiders vs Chiefs) is just what Raider Nation and the Raiders organization needed. The Chiefs played like the conference leading team that they are. The Raiders played like the dominating offensive team they were thought to be at the start of the season. In the end only one could be victorious, though both played their butts off.
It was the best of times for both teams because a short week after a loss gives players no time to dwell on the past game. It was the worst of times for both teams because a short week also means players can't fully heal from aches and injuries sustained in their previous Sunday matchups.
The game itself was a battle for the ages as the Raiders rediscovered their wide receiver weapon that is Amari Cooper (11 rec / 210 yds / 2 tds). The Raiders not only rediscovered Coop, they dusted off their old arsenal of attacking offensive schemes and knocked the Chiefs defense off their game just enough to win. I knew it on the Raiders first offensive play, an out pass to Coop for about 11 yards and a first down, that the offense had given up the vanilla flavor schemes, at least for one game. That predictable handoff to Marshawn Lynch up the middle early in games was gone.
This game saw Lynch mostly as a decoy; and the Chiefs bit on the play action almost every time. By the time Lynch was thrown out of the game for touching an official during a scrum, Raiders running backs Washington and Richard were giving the offense a spark with spurting runs and catches out of the backfield.
It was fitting to have soulful saxophone player Mike Phillips perform the star spangled banner under the Coliseum lights with a huge, 100 yard flag being held by what I think were military personnel. Also the Raiders 1967 AFC Champion players were introduced before the game to loud, passionate screams from Raiders fans. And you know, as usual, big papa #00 Jim Otto always gets the biggest cheers. So the stage had been set for two legendary pro football rivals, one sporting red devil red, the other angelic white, to take the field and give the screaming barbarians their paid pound of flesh. Neither the players nor the fans disappointed, it was beautiful! And yes, there was a jetfighter flyover.
This game ranks right up there with some of the best Raiders games I've ever seen at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. And it wasn't just the electrifying plays on the field; the electric vibe throughout the Coliseum was magnetic and intoxicating for all who were mesmerized after willingly drinking the kool-aid.
It was what was at stake for the Raiders season that had Raider Nation tense from the get go. A Raiders loss would've definitely been a nail in the coffin for this season and possibly prompted changes in the coaching staff. Instead, the talk is all about the team still in the playoff hunt and looking like a legitimate contender for the crown. Also, with the debut of newly signed linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who was given a thundering ovation during defensive introductions, the night couldn't have had more drama and expectation in the air.
If I could bottle the emotion and passion that touched upon every fan at that game last night, I'd present it to world leaders with a note attached saying "here's the scent of world peace, use it." I swear I saw blacks hugging whites, home foreclosure victims hugging investment bankers, Christians hugging Muslims, Republicans hugging Democrats and Bernie look-a-likes, Israelis hugging Palestinians and crips n bloods flashing truce signs. I stand by what I've been saying for years, a Raiders game is the only place where you can go amongst people of all different backgrounds and walks of life and feel like all of them are your brothers and sisters, period.
Raider Nation is more than just a fanatical fan base for a perceived renegade team; its a living, breathing example of what you get when the concept of unity meets the practice of fellowship.
It was a rare moment in football and sports that players, coaches and fans live for and can only hope to be a part of. Raiders coach Jack Del Rio kind of touched on what "the excitement of being in that position" is like, during his post-game interview. He had definitely drank the Kool-Aid and did well in giving facts while you could see he was full of the fun that winning a game like this brings. Jack might be one of the best at handling post-game press conferences win, lose or tie.
Hopefully last night's nationally televised Raiders game reminded our country of just how unique and wonderful it's varied culture of citizens are when given a level playing field in life ,where the same rules of conduct and competition apply to all.