ALAMEDA — Raiders coach Jack Del Rio offered a new theory as to what may have affected a deep Derek Carr pass that fluttered off course to Amari Cooper in the team’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“The angel in the outfield,” Del Rio said Monday at his weekly news conference, his first time speaking since postgame after the Raiders’ 21-13 loss on Thursday in Kansas City.
“I mean, it moved. You know?,” Del Rio said. “I don’t know if it hit a wire or an angel in the outfield moved it, a gust of wind. I don’t know. It moved.”
The angel in the outfield would be a reference to the 1951 movie “Angels in the Outfield” and a 1994 remake in which angels provide some heavenly assistance on the baseball field.
The play in question was a third-and-7 pass with about nine minutes to go and the Raiders trailing by eight. Carr escaped pressure, stepped into the pocket and fired deep to Cooper, who had gotten a step or two on Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters. But the ball went off track and Cooper couldn’t get to it.
NBC Sports, which aired the game, has said that was not the case and there’s nothing clear on video — even the all-22 coaches film — to show what may have happened to the ball. Cooper, who seemed to stumble at the last second while going for the ball, said after the game that late movement of the ball is what caused him to not track it properly.
The wind might be the most logical theory. Carr struggled to throw the ball all night and the coaches film seems to show the ball beginning to knuckle on its way up and in theory wind could’ve pushed a wobbly ball off track.
While Del Rio is convinced something funky happened, he’s not willing to blame the loss on the play.
“To me, it was one of so many plays that could’ve gone differently but I’m certainly not sitting here hung up on that play,” he said.
Carr, speaking on his weekly appearance on 95.7 The Game, said he thought the pass was a touchdown when it left his hand.
“It definitely changed direction,” Carr said. “Because when I threw it, in my head, I said, ‘That’s six. That’s a touchdown.’ I knew it was.
“I threw it and I knew Coop was going to catch it and he had a good distance between him and the next defender and he was gone. It definitely changed. You could tell by his reaction at the end of the play as the ball was coming down. It’s crazy how things work. We had a lot of missed opportunities like that. But it is what it is. We just have to own it and deal and move one.”
— With Carr struggling and the running game doing damage, Del Rio openly second-guessed the Raiders’ decision to pass the ball on a key late third-and-1 play.
“I would have liked to have seen us play a little more big boy ball in that game, with the weather, (and) the fact that (Derek) was having an off night,” Del Rio said.
The Raiders were a touchdown and two-point conversion away from a tie with 2:06 remaining when faced with a third-and-1 at the Kansas City 14-yard line.
Carr threw an incomplete pass intended for Andre Holmes on a fade to the right corner of the end zone. Then on fourth-and-1, right tackle Austin Howard was called for a false start, pushing the ball back to the 19 on fourth-and-6.
Carr threw incomplete to Seth Roberts on the left side, and that was the ballgame.
At that point, Latavius Murray had gained 103 yards on 22 carries and Jalen Richard had 25 yards rushing on that drive alone.
“We had three third-and-ones during the game, and the first two we ran it and got it,” Del Rio said. “It would have made a lot of sense to run it right there.”
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is the Raiders play-caller. Del Rio said when he heard the play call in his headset, he considered using a time out to reconsider and run the ball instead.
However, the Raiders had already used a time out, and Del Rio said he didn’t want to use another. So he decided to go ahead with the pass, figuring the opportunity would be there on fourth-and-1 to run the ball.
“I let the play ride and thought we’d be able to get it on the next snap,” Del Rio said. “It’s one of those things, you play the game, you get these opportunities, and look back . . . at the end of the day, that was one, as a staff, we would have really liked to hand the ball off.”
—Del Rio delivered a loud and clear to punter Marquette King: “He can’t have another penalty.”
King has picked up unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in consecutive games. He was flagged in the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs for chasing down Tyreek Hill and exchanging words after Hill returned one of King’s punt 78 yards for a touchdown. King was also penalized the week before against the Buffalo Bills for celebrating with a penalty flag after the Bills were called for roughing the punter.
The message from Del Rio: enough is enough.
“I’ve allowed him to have his freedom,” Del Rio said. “I want him to express himself. I think that’s when he’s at his best. But we can’t have routine 15-yard penalties out of our punter. We’ve got two in a row, two weeks in a row, and that’s got to come to a stop.”
— Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele tweeted that he’s made a “full recovery” after missing the game against the Chiefs with an illness.
— Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. had a “pretty good” first week of practice after returning last week, Del Rio said, and they’ll see “how quick he gets up to speed.” There’s a chance he could return against the Chargers.
— Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has a finger injury similar to Carr’s dislocated right pinkie but Del Rio said he’ll be able to play through it. Del Rio didn’t have any updates though on rookie safety Karl Joseph.