Raiders Win 10th Game in a Comeback
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Amari Cooper was eight years old the last time the Oakland Raiders had a 10-win season, but his 37-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter was the go-ahead play in a dramatic 38-24 come-from-behind victory over the Buffalo Bills that improved the breakout team’s record to 10-2.
Winners of six consecutive games, the Raiders’ offense has been machine-like, earning quarterback Derek Carr the cover of ESPN The Magazine among other accolades, and has the team tied with the New England Patriots for the best record in the A.F.C.
But with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter, it looked like the winning streak could be in jeopardy, as the Raiders trailed the Bills 24-9.
The comeback, which included 29 unanswered points, was a total team effort as the offense got two touchdowns from Latavius Murray and one each from Michael Crabtree and Cooper. The go-ahead play by Cooper was a veteran move from a young receiver, as he did a double-fake on a slant-and-go, giving himself plenty of separation against rookie cornerback Kevon Seymour.
But perhaps more importantly, the comeback also featured great play from the team’s defense that had allowed 197 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns through three quarters but suddenly found a way to stop the hard-charging Bills. Khalil Mack, Oakland’s standout linebacker, sealed up the victory with a sack and fumble late in the fourth quarter that ended the only promising drive for Buffalo after Oakland had come alive.
The turnaround on both sides of the ball was remarkable, as prior to the 29-point explosion, all of Oakland’s scoring had come from three field goals by Sebastian Janikowski, the team’s aging place-kicker and only remaining member of the 2002 team that won 11 games and earned a Super Bowl appearance, which was the last time Oakland qualified for the playoffs.
Oakland’s next test will come after a short turn-around, as the team faces the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday in a game that could go a long way to determining which team wins the A.F.C. West.
Chiefs Win on 2-Point Interception
In an emotional return to his hometown, Eric Berry stole the show as the Kansas City Chiefs found creative ways to score, becoming just the second team to win a game as a result of a defensive two-point play. The rare conversion was the difference in a 29-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Atlanta had just scored on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Aldrick Robinson and tried to extend the lead to 30-27 with a 2-point conversion attempt. Ryan dropped back and threw to his left but Berry, Kansas City’s standout defensive back, stepped right in front of the pass, returning it 99 yards for the score.
“It’s what I do, man,” Berry said in a televised interview after the game. “We talk about making plays throughout the week. We just embrace the process. Good things happen when you embrace the process.”
Berry, who worked his way back to N.F.L. stardom after missing most of the 2014 season to get treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, grew up in Fairburn, Georgia and his homecoming game also included a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown. After the scoring play, he ran to the stands and gave the ball to his mother.
“I shed a few tears before the game, I shed a few tears during the game and I shed a few after,” Berry told reporters. “It was just a lot of emotions. I tried to contain them and let it show through my play.”
The odd win for Kansas City also included a fake punt that led to a 55-yard run by Albert Wilson and gave the Chiefs nine wins heading into a huge A.F.C. West matchup on Thursday against the division-leading Oakland Raiders.
The ability to return an extra-point or 2-point conversion attempt for a two-point score has only existed for two seasons, and the Denver Broncos became the first team to win a game with one in Week 10 when Will Parks returned a blocked extra-point for the game-winning score. Berry’s version of the play, already dubbed a “pick-two” by some, was the first time a two-point defensive play has been the result of a failed 2-point conversion attempt rather than a blocked kick.