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Oakland Raiders 24-21 Chicago Bears
by Kadeem Simmonds
at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
It’s funny how one play can turn a game on it’s head.
With the Oakland Raiders looking comfortable at the start of the second half, leading the Chicago Bears 17-0, quarterback Derek Carr’s failed toss to running back Josh Jacobs set up the Bears to then score 21 points unanswered.
There were spectacular catches from Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson, plus a touchdown-saving play by the Bears defence on their own one-yard line.
At times Chicago rode their luck, quarterback Chase Daniel threw an interception only to see it called back for a questionable roughing the passer call on defensive tackle Maurice Hurst.
But there’s no denying that whatever head coach Matt Nagy said to his side at the half, it worked — or it did until the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.
A dubious roughing the kicker call on AJ Cole on fourth down allowed the Raiders to run a fake punt to pick up a first down.
Carr then got to work and tight end Foster Moreau made some big plays to drive down the field and set up a Jacobs go-ahead touchdown with 1:57 remaining.
The rookies, Jacobs and Moreau, were invaluable on the drive and are already proving their worth in this team following last season’s decision to veterans Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper depart for the Bears and Dallas Cowboys and replace them with guys in the draft.
Head coach John Gruden paid tribute to the younger guys on the team, saying: “It's a credit to him. I think we've been talking about our young players since they've been here, the kind of effort that they provide and the smartness that they play with.
“And these are smart guys that are doing a lot of different things. Playing tough positions. Foster Moreau, pass protecting, catching passes down the field. Can't say enough about the rookies.
“And [Clelin] Ferrell didn't get to go tonight. Hopefully he'll be back for Green Bay, and Isaiah Johnson and Gabe Jackson and Tyrell Williams and others can join us. We've got a good feeling going right now”
With the game on the line, Daniel threw an interception and though he got the ball back with 13 seconds left, he was unable to mastermind a miracle win.
Daniel, whos is playing with starter Mitch Trubisky is out injured, was candid about the game-killing interception late in the game, explaining what he saw from the Raiders defence and accepted the mistake was entirely his fault.
“Yeah, that's one we want back. That's one of our stable plays. We made a check and at the end they made a better play.
“The whole game they were pretty tight on our outside receivers, and I'm not even sure who intercepted, but the corner who really, I thought was supposed to have Javon Williams really fell off.
“I saw the nickel falling off, Anthony [Miller] took it a little lower than what I wanted, but that's just completely on me. Like I just - there's two throws I want back, right, the first interception gave them a short field and obviously that one. I feel like that's one that I should probably check down.”
All the talk at the half-way mark of the game was on the Bears decision to arrive on Friday morning, with the Raiders opting to fly in on Monday after last season’s failed decision to touch down in London just days before their game against the Seattle Sehawks — they ultimately lost 27-3.
But Bears coach Nagy played down any idea that the slow start was down to their late flight.
“Had nothing to do with when we came here and when we didn't. It's about playing football.”
That the bears failed to put up a point in the first half and only got back into the game because of a fumble recovery early in the third quarter will not only question the Bears decision but will also, once again, raise the issue about when teams travelling to London should arrive in the country.
Daniel, like his coach, ignored their travel plans and instead put their slow start down to the Raiders defence and the way they played.
“Well, I liked our first drive,” he said, “I thought that was really good. I thought we moved the ball pretty well.
“I think we had two penalties that really hurt us and put us in second and long and third and long, and then the next drive I'm not sure what happened. I think we went three-and-out.
“The next drive I may have — I think was the interception or something like that, and then yeah, we just couldn't get going. We were just hurting ourselves, bottom line, and credit that defence. It's a great defence. They played us in a lot of two high and they were good against the run today.”
The Bears head into their bye week 3-2 and Nagy believes this is the perfect time to “reflect and figure out how do we get better.”
He said: “Well, you know, when you get me 20 minutes after a game, my emotions are going right now because I hate losing and I know our guys in there hate losing.
“It stings, it hurts. It's all the emotions any normal person has when you lose. But after five games we're 3-2.
“We've had a chance in most of the games to win, so we'll use this time as coaches to reflect and figure out how do we get better, and then we all just need to do it together, and so this goes back to week one. It stinks losing. It's not fun. But what's the why part.”
Daniel added that heading into a bye after a loss is difficult for the players.
“It makes it even tougher because it was the bye week. You've got to sit on this for quite a while, and it doesn't make it feel good.
“I just think you regroup. We're 3-2, I don't know what we were last time at this point in the season. I think at one point we were 3-3. So, the biggest thing is just fixing on the mistakes, watching it, being hard on yourself.
“I'm the hardest guy on myself. I didn't play well enough today. Backup, regardless, London, it really doesn't matter. It really doesn't. I expect more of myself, and we'll watch the film, we'll try to move on, and win some more games.”
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