HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — The game-winning play, a day later, seems just as unreal as when it happened.
That play was a highly ill-advised lateral that Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones picked off to score a 48-yard touchdown for a walk-off 30-24 victory Sunday over the New England Patriots.
A play that was discussed from ocean to ocean Sunday night well into Monday morning, and Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said he received his share of text messages.
“I have friends and family that obviously thought that was just about what it was — crazy,” McDaniels said. “We didn’t do a whole lot other than take advantage of something that was presented to us in that last situation. I don’t want to take too much credit for that. We were trying to hopefully go to overtime.”
The play helped the Raiders finally hold on to a double-digit halftime lead. Until Sunday, they were 0-4 in such situations, the first team since at least 1930 to blow that kind of advantage that many times.
A team that has found creative ways to lose finally found a unique way to win, with a massive assist from the other side.
This wasn't the first time the Raiders have been involved in a play that has the entire NFL and its fans talking.
Friday is the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception. Las Vegas plays at the Pittsburgh Steelers the following day, so the Raiders will be reminded of a play that the franchise still insists shouldn't have counted because of the rules at the time, though the replays are inconclusive.
Also in the Raiders' history are the Sea of Hands game that ended the Miami Dolphins' bid for a fourth straight Super Bowl appearance and the Holy Roller against the San Diego Chargers in 1978 that led to a rules change. Plus, of course, there was the Tuck Rule game that cost the Raiders a potential trip to the 2002 Super Bowl and helped launch the Patriots' dynasty.
And now the wacky lateral that gives the Raiders (6-8) some hope of making the playoffs. However, it's still a long shot.
McDaniels said trying to keep up with the playoff scenarios was “confusing” and pointless because much of it was beyond the team's control.
“The one thing that we know we have to do in order to keep going is win," he said.
Special teams continued to be strong. Malcolm Koonce blocked a punt that set up a touchdown, Daniel Carlson made a 49-yard field goal, AJ Cole placed two punts inside the 20-yard line including one at the 2, and Ameer Abdullah averaged 22.2 yards on five kickoff returns.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The banged-up offensive line is a mess. When the Patriots knew Las Vegas had to pass, they unloaded on quarterback Derek Carr, who was sacked three times in the second half. It's uncertain whether that group will get any healthier, which makes the closing stretch against the Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs even more difficult.
Mack Hollins caught four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. Another reception was a 12-yarder on fourth-and-10 from the Raiders 19 in the final two minutes that kept alive what turned out to be the game-tying drive. He also got down the field on a punt to down the ball at the 2. And when the Raiders wanted some insurance on the last play against a deep pass, they put Hollins in at safety.
The Raiders made too many unforced errors, getting hit with four false start penalties and two for delay of game.
“There are no excuses for those,” McDaniels said. “We need to be able to go out and call a play in the huddle, break the huddle, get to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball without penalty before the play clock’s down.”
There were no updates on G Alex Bars (knee), LB Darien Butler (rib), G Dylan Parham (knee) and CB Rock Ya-Sin (knee).
28 — The number of receiving yards for Davante Adams against the Patriots, his third fewest this season. Much of that is because New England does what it almost always does and took away the offense's best playmaker. But Adams is going to have to be much more involved in the offense if the Raiders are to finish the season strong.
The Raiders visit the Steelers on Saturday night, the day after the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception. Both teams are barely in the playoff picture, so this is effectively an elimination game.
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