Raiders’ final-play magic set up by clutch plays from Derek Carr, Keelan Cole


Before Chandler Jones made like he was a Madden video game character and stiff-armed Mac Jones, before his 48-yard “Lateral Damage” touchdown run that will go down with all the wild plays in Raiders history …

The Raiders offense faced a fourth-and-10 at its own 19-yard line with 1:54 left, trailing the Patriots 24-17.

The offense had been putrid in the second half and the Raiders were on the verge of blowing a fifth double-digit lead this season, extending the NFL record they set 10 days earlier with their collapse against the Rams. Their first three plays of the possession had been the equivalent of Derek Carr throwing the ball up for grabs as panic had apparently set in.

But the Raiders came back to the huddle after the two-minute warning and collectively took a deep breath.

“I remember Davante (Adams) said, ‘Just find a way. Everyone do their job and just find a way to do the right thing,’ ” Carr said after the 30-24 win. “It takes all 11 guys on offense to do the right thing or it’s not going to look pretty.”

Carr threw two simple, good-looking sideline passes to Mack Hollins for 12 and 13 yards. And then after a Josh Jacobs run, Carr found Darren Waller in the middle of the field for 20 yards. One play later, Keelan Cole got to the corner of the end zone and Carr threw his best pass of the day, a 30-yard strike that Cole was able to bring in and get two feet inbounds for the tying touchdown.

Or a foot and a half. Whatever …

It looked like Cole’s left toe was out of bounds when he spun to get the second foot in, but it was ruled a touchdown and a long replay process could not find enough evidence to overturn the call.


“We looked at every available angle and it was not clear and obvious that the foot was on the white,” NFL senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson said to a pool reporter. “There was no shot that we could see — we even enhanced and blew up the views that we had.”

Cole said he definitely … wasn’t sure.

“Honestly … if we’re being all the way honest, when I caught the ball, it felt good,” Cole told reporters. “But … I don’t know. I did know that it was close.”

In a funny twist (for Raiders fans), had the game not been flexed out of its Sunday night prime-time TV spot, the call probably gets overturned because there would have been a pylon camera for an up close view.

But that’s all semantics now. The Raiders are 6-8 with still-breathing playoff hopes, but of the most immediate importance, they have a reason to smile in what’s been a frustrating season.

“Everybody stepped up,” Carr said.

The Raiders were able to start working Waller and Hunter Renfrow, back from stints on injured reserve, into the offense. Waller had a touchdown catch — beating a cornerback off the line of scrimmage while the safety was preoccupied with Adams, just like we all envisioned it before the season — and also ran the wrong route and broke up a big play to Adams late in the game. We’ll call it a wash.

Josh McDaniels got to celebrate a win over his mentor, Bill Belichick (he is now 2-0 over him with the other win from his Broncos stint), when the alternative, if not for two plays in the last 35 seconds, would have been a lot more depressing.

He was beaming in the locker room, holding up the game ball he was about to give Jones.

“How long did it take us?” McDaniels asked his team after the game.

“Sixty minutes,” came back the answer.

“Sixty minutes,” he said. “I’m just telling you, we’ve been talking about 60 minutes all year long. I don’t know that this was the most disciplined effort we had … but I know this: Nobody can argue with how much we fight. There’s no way you can argue with the effort and the character of the people in this locker room. And that’s why we won.”

The Raiders overcame 13 penalties, many of the false start variety. Their patchwork offensive line lost rookie guard Dylan Parham early in the game, and both Patriots pass rushers and yellow flags were flying at a clearly frustrated Carr all game.

(Plus, they even had to go to the silent count at home because there were so many Patriots fans at Allegiant Stadium.)

But all it takes is no pylon camera and one Patriots receiver trying to lateral a ball 30 yards to his quarterback standing behind 6-foot-5 Chandler Jones to turn things around.

“Probably the most insane ending I’ve ever been a part of, but we’ll take it, we’ll take it for sure,” McDaniels said.

Hey, the Raiders have had their share of nightmare finishes this season, this decade, this century …

Why can’t they get one?

“If you’ve been with the Raiders for any amount of time, we’ve seen our fair share of things happen,” Carr said. “But I have not seen that one.”

(Photo of Keelan Cole: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)


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