The Oakland Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs three different times Thursday night. The Chiefs beat the Raiders two times of their own. It just took until Raiders quarterback Derek Carr's final throw of the night for one of the results to stick.
There were countless memorable moments in the first 59 minutes and 30 seconds of the Raiders' 31-30 victory Thursday night, but they all figure to be forgotten. The five-play sequence to end the game, unlike any ending to an NFL game before, is what will be remembered in Oakland years from now.
Just three plays after Carr and tight end Jared Cook saved the Raiders season by converting on fourth-and-11 to keep the team's last-gasp drive for a touchdown alive, it appeared the same connection won the game.
Cook made an incredible leaping 28-yard grab with bodies all around him at the goal line, a feat nearly as difficult as the epic sideline catch he made with the Packers last January to help them win a playoff game. It appeared that this Cook catch would be the one shown on highlight reels for the rest of the season, but replays determined Cook was down half a yard short of the end zone.
The celebrating would have to wait ...
Cook was tackled in the field of play, requiring a 10-second runoff after his touchdown was overturned. That left the Raiders only eight seconds to snap the ball and try to score.
Oakland wanted two cracks at a touchdown, so it called a quick fade to Crabtree in the end zone, who disengaged from star Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters for what appeared to be the tying score. The officials called Crabtree for a push off, which upon replay didn't look too different from the normal hand-fighting that goes on in the red zone. After the officials consulted with each other, the pass interference penalty stuck. The Raiders were going backwards.
The Raiders had a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line with only three seconds left, knowing this was their last play from scrimmage.
Cook was badly held early on the play by Chiefs safety Ron Parker, but Cook still had a chance to end the game when Carr's high pass bounced right off his hands.
"This game is never going to end!" CBS analyst Tony Romo yelled from the booth with the glee of a 7-year-old child, mirroring the rest of America.
(Side note: Allow Tony Romo to broadcast every NFL game remaining, for the rest of time.)
Carr looked for Patterson playing out of the slot on this play, which is amazing in its own right. Patterson, primarily a special teamer, had the matchup advantage over Chiefs second-year safety Eric Murray, who held on the play. Patterson still made a great effort to come down with the ball with his left hand, but he landed just out of the back of the end zone.
"We got another play!" Romo yelled, as play-by-play man Jim Nantz just laughed.
With one-on-one matchups all across the field, it is telling that Carr wanted to go to his veteran Michael Crabtree with the game on the line.
"Man, you know what? It's something that Crab and I have worked [on]," Carr told NFL Network's TNF Postgame crew. "And it's one of those things that we've done over and over and over again, and we'd never done it in a game."
In practice, the play was a sprint out to the right. But in the game, Carr asked for a changeup with him sprinting to his left.
"So, going into the game, we were only going to do it one way," Carr explained. "But at that moment, I looked at coach and I said 'Hey, whatever our signal was, let's do it that way' [pointing left]. We practiced all week going to the right. And then when the game was on the line, coach knew that me and Crab had spent much time doing it on our own."
Peters was on the left side. Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who was picked on all game, was on the right. NFL Network's Deion Sanders asked Carr if they flipped sides to avoid Peters and Carr confirmed as much.
Carr sprinted left on the play and found Crabtree in the corner of the end zone to tie the game, with kicker Giorgio Tavecchio clinching the win with the extra point.
Staring at a potential 2-5 record and a four-game deficit in the division, it is not hyperbole to say the Raiders saved their AFC West title chances in this game. It only took five crazy plays and one brilliant last audible to get it done.