OAKLAND, Calif. – The Raiders love riding "Beast Mode" style. But they entered here on Thursday night against the Chiefs with four straight losses and in "Panic Mode." Quickly, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch morphed into "Knucklehead Mode."
And by the time the Raiders had won 31-30 on the game’s final play that actually began with 0:00 on the clock, it was "Insanity Mode" for all.
A stadium security officer told me that he drove Lynch to the nearest BART Station where Lynch caught a train after he was ejected midway through the second quarter.
Lynch was tossed, dressed, and instead watched the rest of the game with fans at the stadium and then hitched a ride to the train in pure "Beat It Mode.''
Before that, he had darted onto midfield from the sidelines midway in the second quarter. It was after a hit by Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders thought it was late. Lynch entered into the fuss and also grabbed an official.
"I told him you can’t leave the bench like that," Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. "That was about it. Next thing I knew, he was being tossed. Obviously, you can never put your hands on an official and he was DQ."
OK, one of his teammates said.
"… The refs weren’t doing their job protecting my quarterback when he’s on the ground," Raiders left tackle Donald Penn said. "I saw he got hit so I went over and got him and some other guys got into it. It was a big old commotion. I saw Marshawn come out there. Marshawn wasn’t doing anything; he was just trying to protect his cousin, get his cousin (Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, who had hit Carr questionably late) to the sideline. They’re real close. He’s going to learn. Marshawn’s smart. He’s going to learn from that moving forward."
No one confirmed if Peters is Lynch’s cousin. But how peculiar that a player would run onto the field to protect a player from another team and not his quarterback in that situation.
We can confirm that this type of nonsense from Penn in which he and any other Raider who wants to excuse Lynch’s lack of discipline and his "DQ" is not at all "OK."
Are the Raiders really a better team with Marshawn Lynch and his signature "Beast Mode"?
It is a fair and relevant question after this fiasco.
You sort of get what you get with Lynch (ask the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks) and coaches and his teammates tend to let him be, let this free soul fly, allow for his foul mouth and loud voice and giving heart for his community speak for the essence of his realness. And his power running provide the ultimate beast.
And that’s all fine until "Beast Mode" turns into an undisciplined wrecking ball, a guy apparently given few parameters who lacks the self-discipline to sometimes rein it in.
He is fortunate and so are the Raiders that they were able to overcome his "DQ.”
They did it by allowing the Chiefs to score 10 points in each of the first three quarters and then zilch in the final quarter.
The Raiders scored 10 points of their own in that final quarter, including the game-winning drive that began at their 15-yard line with 2:25 left and the Chiefs ahead 30-24.
That drive included a fourth-and-11 catch of 13 yards to the Kansas City 29 by tight end Jared Cook and another Cook catch of 28 yards to the Kansas City 1.
"That speaks volumes about this team that we were able to keep fighting through tough situations," Cook said.
The end of the game was a blur of action, an assortment of pass interference calls on both teams that kept extending it. But the Chiefs made the most costly ones: the pass interference penalties that gave Oakland two untimed plays to win it. The first was from the 5. The last was from the 2. On that one, Carr sprinted right and zipped a front corner, end-zone pass to receiver Michael Crabtree for the tying shot.
"That was weird, different," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of the two, game-ending, untimed plays.
"I mean," said Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, "multiple times you’re thinking we lost it, we won it, we lost it, we won it."
The Chiefs started 5-0. Now they have lost two games in five days.
Chiefs safety Steven Terrell said: "The NFL is tough. You want to see those pass interference calls go a little bit more both ways. That was crazy the way that finished. I’ve never seen anything like that."
It still took Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio to nail the extra point to win it.
While Crabtree was smothered by cameras and reporters in the Raiders locker room, I spoke alone to Tavecchio, as we marveled at the spectacle across the room and the quiet among us. He realized that if he had missed that extra point, he would be the spectacle, hounded in excruciating ways.
"I try not to think too much about that option. I try not to go to that fire. I went out there and went through my prekick motions. Cleared some mud. Calmed down. Did some breathing. As a kicker, I don’t know all of the X’s and O’s. But I know what it takes to do my job. And I’m really thankful I did it right there."
It was the final point on a night full of points both on the scoreboard and on the field, on the sidelines and in the twirling seasons of both franchises. Subtle points. Hard-knock points. A night of big moments and one that ended in full throttle "Insanity Mode".
The Raiders hammered the Titans and Jets to open the season and looked loaded. Marshawn Lynch, Beast Mode, was dancing here in the Black Hole after that Jets game.
But then the Raiders got smacked at Washington and followed that with losses at Denver and at home against Baltimore and the Chargers. The Raiders were worried. Carr looked lost. Receiver Amari Cooper looked confused. The third-down defense was sloppy. The Raiders were right there with the Chargers, Browns, Giants, and 49ers as teams that had lost four straight so early in this season. They were knocking on joining only the Giants, Browns, and 49ers as teams that dropped five straight.
They were in jeopardy of handing Kansas City a runaway lead in the AFC West race.
But Carr threw it 52 times and was not sacked. He passed for 417 yards and three touchdowns.
Cooper — who had gained a total of 51 receiving yards during the Raiders four-game losing streak — ripped the Chiefs for 210 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
And linebacker NaVorro Bowman stepped boldly in with only three days of Raiders practice after exiting the 49ers. Bowman, with the help of coach/radio communication in his helmet, called the defense for all of his new teammates.
He gained the chance to see the Raiders overcome Lynch’s "DQ,” and he helped to rebuild confidence that was slipping. He walked into the pressure that was engulfing them and helped turn it all into his unforgettable Raiders debut.
"The Raiders really wanted me and I tried to give them all I had tonight," Bowman said. "It was exciting to see our guys play with so much heart. I was glad to be a part of this."