INDIANAPOLIS — The Oakland Raiders needed a play, from someone.
Up stepped one of Jon Gruden’s favorite players, the CFL castoff and former potato chip factory worker Erik Harris.
Indeed, the safety made the biggest play of the day — a 30-yard pick-six with 2:09 to play — to ensure the Raiders’ 31-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. It was the Raiders’ first interception of the season.
The victory gives the Raiders a 2-2 record heading into next week’s “home game” in London against the Chicago Bears, but also some much-needed confidence.
Playmakers tend to do that for you.
QB breakdown: Derek Carr started white hot on a script of plays that had the Colts shell-shocked. He completed 11 of his first 13 passes with two TDs, but ended the first half 12-for-21. Granted, Carr was victimized by a trio of drops by Tyrell Williams, including one in the end zone that would have made it a three-score game late in the third quarter, and he had a bad miss on a sideline throw to tight end Darren Waller, but it was a massive improvement from last week’s showing in Minnesota as Carr finished 21-for-31 for 189 yards and the two scores.
Pivotal play: Either Derek Carr handed the ball to Josh Jacobs too low, or Jacobs’ bottom hand was too high. In any event, neither was looking at the ball on the botched handoff midway through the first quarter when the Raiders held a 14-0 lead and Oakland’s defense had already authored a pair of three-and-outs. Having recovered the ball at the Oakland 22-yard line, an energized Colts team responded with a touchdown three plays later to regain momentum in a game the Raiders were threatening to blow out early but needed Harris’ heroics late to salt it away.
Promising trend: Maxx Crosby was drafted in the fourth round out of Eastern Michigan to create havoc on the defensive line. A broken right hand suffered in the preseason opener slowed his development, but he showed up numerous times against the Colts. Crosby had two batted passes, forced a fumble and had a nice tackle for a loss, stuffing the run.
Bold prediction for next week: London is on the horizon, and Khalil Mack is staring the Raiders smack dab in the face. So expect some scheming to account for him and some chipping from running backs and tight ends to give a nicked-up Trent Brown some help. Brown was already dealing with right knee and ankle issues, then he also injured a finger against the Colts and had to leave the game for a spell and was replaced by David Sharpe. Brown returned, though, wearing gloves.