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Raiders report: Rookie’s first touchdown proves decisive

Updated November 12, 2023 - 11:17 pm

Rookie tight end Michael Mayer couldn’t really remember the play on which he scored the first touchdown of his career, much less the celebration.

All he knows is that it helped his Raiders pull out a 16-12 victory over the Jets on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

“It was almost a broken play, but we’ve had some instances in practice where we’ve kind of thrown it up and I had to go get it, so it’s something we’ve worked on,” he said of his 7-yard fourth-quarter grab in the end zone. “But I was blacked out. I have no idea what happened. I think I like spun the ball and kind of just stared into the crowd. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what happened. I kind of want to watch that to find out.”

He’ll likely see the replay over and over. Mayer broke a 9-9 tie with 14:17 remaining by leaping over the outstretched hand of Jordan Whitehead and coming down with the ball for the game’s only touchdown.

“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since the day I got drafted,” Mayer said of his first touchdown. “But it’s about the team. It’s about everyone running the route they needed to run, and it’s about Aidan (O’Connell) putting the ball up there for me. That was one of his best balls of the day because he put it where only I could get it. And a good play call, too.”

It was an uneven day for the passing game against one of the league’s stingiest defenses, but O’Connell had confidence his athletic tight end could make a play.

“I think from pretty early on Michael has shown us he’s a special player,” O’Connell said. “Even rookie mini-camp, I remember him being a super tough guy. I remember him having blisters all over his feet and socks full of blood. We knew, I think as an offense and as a team that we had a really good young player there. He did an awesome job making an awesome play, even though I kind of just threw it up and let him be a football player.”

That’s exactly what Mayer brings to the table. He said the team often practices those type of situations where the design of the play needs to be altered and it just becomes a battle for who wants the ball.

“It was kind of to the point (in the game) where you just play your hardest and try to help the team win and then if a play comes your way, you have to make it. That’s why they drafted me. That’s why I’m here. You need to make the play. We have a lot of stuff to fix, in the run game for me especially. But we have a win, and now we go back to work and keep doing what we’ve been doing all season long.”

Good advice

The Jets were doing a good job of containing running back Josh Jacobs and the Raiders’ ground game before Jacobs popped his longest run of the season up the middle for 40 yards near the end of the third quarter.

He credited some advice from right guard Greg Van Roten.

“Greg told me they want you to bounce outside, so keep it inside and just trust it,” Jacobs said. “Literally the next play we hit a big one. That was really him.”

Van Roten confirmed the exchange, adding the Jets’ defense was designed to take away inside gaps and force runners to the outside.

“I felt like there were opportunities if he just followed us a little instead of bouncing it,” Van Roten said. “I told him, ‘Don’t be afraid of the darkness.’ Literally the next play, I felt him go right by me for 40 yards, so that was awesome.”

Jacobs built on the run and eventually eclipsed 100 yards for the first time this season as he finished with 116 yards on 27 carries.

“I don’t know why (100) is the magic number, but it is and if you hit it you feel good,” Van Roten said. “Last week we tried to get him to a hundred and just missed it. So happy for him and feel like it’s been a long time coming to finally get him going. It seems like things are finally turning in that direction.”

Jacobs was more concerned with a late fumble that set the Jets up with a chance to win before Robert Spillane intercepted a pass deep in Raiders territory.

“I was just hoping the defense would pick me up on that one,” he said. “I didn’t want to be the reason we lost.”

Record books

Davante Adams had team-highs with six catches for 86 yards on 13 targets in the win as he extended his streak to 124 straight games with at least one catch, the fourth-longest active streak in the league.

He also had a season-best 42-yard catch in the game and has 31 receptions of at least 40 yards since 2016, the third-most in the league over that span.

Adams also surpassed Jerry Rice for ninth-most receptions in a player’s first 10 seasons with 826.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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