November 26, 2017 - 9:46 pm
Updated November 26, 2017 - 11:22 pm
OAKLAND, Calif. — Amari Cooper was motionless. His eyes were closed. Teammates and opponents alike waved for help from the Raiders’ sideline. Athletic trainers sprinted. Minutes later, a cart loaded with a medical backboard was driven onto the field.
Players kneeled with their heads bowed.
Finally, he stood.
The Raiders wide receiver absorbed a scary collision with about five minutes remaining in the first half of a 21-14 win over the Denver Broncos. He was sandwiched between cornerback Bradley Roby and safety Darian Stewart, the latter delivering a violent hit on Cooper that appeared to knock him unconscious.
Coach Jack Del Rio, a former NFL linebacker, didn’t like the hit. He characterized it as “vicious.”
“The kind we’re trying to remove from our game, quite frankly,” Del Rio added. “You see less and less of those. I’m sure the league will take a hard look at it. Those are the kinds of impact hits that don’t need to be part of our game right now. The guy is clearly defenseless and got targeted right in the head. There’s a chance to hit in the strike zone and be somewhere else and not be there like that.
“He is OK, but he’s in the concussion protocol.”
The Raiders played the bulk of Sunday without their two top wide receivers.
Michael Crabtree was ejected earlier for exchanging punches with cornerback Aqib Talib; Talib ripped off Crabtree’s necklace on a first-quarter run play.
There is no guarantee either receiver will be available Sunday against the New York Giants.
Cooper’s status will be monitored over the coming days. As for Crabtree, the NFL will consider punishment that at minimum will entail a fine.
It could involve a suspension, given Crabtree not only took part in a fight but appeared to slug cornerback Chris Harris Jr. on the play directly before the squabble with Talib.
Crabtree, 30, was caught on the game’s CBS broadcast delivering a right-hand punch to Harris’ stomach on a run block. Harris briefly exited the game, walking off while complaining about what he said Crabtree had done.
“Aqib took that personal,” Broncos safety Justin Simmons said.
“Yeah, he just sucker-punched me,” Harris said. “I have never seen that in the NFL. Today, he just came out wanting to fight. He didn’t want to play football. … It was a run play. I was playing man, and I wasn’t even doing anything. He just came in there, was like BAM, hit me right in the middle of the stomach, and I just lost my breath.”
Stewart was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness on the hit to Cooper.
Cooper, 23, received a standing ovation from fans when he rose to his feet. He declined the cart ride, walking to the locker room with assistance.
No NFL punter has received more Pro Bowl votes from fans than Marquette King.
On Sunday, he showed why.
King pinned the Broncos inside their own 10-yard line on four occasions. Denver began drives at its own 2-, 7-, 7- and 8-yard line. For the season, his 13 punts downed inside the 10 are tied for most in the league.
Of course, it’s a group effort.
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson caught the King punt that was downed at the 2-yard line late in the second quarter. He and wide receiver Johnny Holton have been effective in their role as gunners, chasing down King punts.
“He’s one of the best in the business,” Patterson said. “You see it each and every week. He’s always making plays. It’s our job as gunners to get down there and make a play for him so he can take the credit.”
King received 52,847 Pro Bowl votes through Nov. 21. The Rams’ Johnny Hekker was second at 30,383.
The Pro Bowl fan vote is ongoing at NFL.com
— Running back Marshawn Lynch had a season-high 26 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. He saw 18 carries in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans but fewer than 15 carries in all eight games that followed before Sunday. This was his third game back from a one-game NFL suspension.
“I feel like he’s come back with even more purpose, resolve, whatever it might be,” Del Rio said. “He’s come back operating in a way that I think is good for us. Very decisive and very purposeful about his running and his approach.”
— Cornerback Sean Smith started at cornerback with David Amerson (foot) out for a fourth straight game. He was targeted seven times but allowed just four receptions for 23 yards and a team-best 63.4 quarterback rating on balls in his direction, according to Pro Football Focus.
— Jon Feliciano stepped in at right guard following Gabe Jackson’s first-quarter ejection for making contact with an official. The Raiders were down to one reserve offensive lineman after that. Vadal Alexander was needed briefly, playing right tackle after left tackle Donald Penn entered the team’s medical tent during the second half for undisclosed reasons. Marshall Newhouse flipped from right to left tackle. Penn promptly returned.
— The Raiders allowed 219 yards of total offense. Their previous season low was 271 in Week 2 versus the New York Jets.