weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Graney: Maxx Crosby took over game defensively for Raiders

Updated November 20, 2022 - 8:46 pm

DENVER — He didn’t like the call because he was going 100 mph and, well, it’s tough to slow one’s drive in such a moment. But the flag came, and Maxx Crosby was hit with a personal foul.

And then his anger turned into bad things for the Broncos.

Stop the presses. The Raiders have won a one-score game on their seventh try this season.

They beat Denver 22-16 in overtime Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High, and it shouldn’t shock you whose play made a significant difference.

Crosby was his typical Pro Bowl edge rushing self. Did things that turned the course of a game. Sparked the Raiders to a second-half comeback that clinched a season sweep of their AFC West rival. He was fantastic.

“We wanted this so bad,” Crosby said. “We were out there playing for each other, and we see the results. We can’t get too high or too low, but a moment like this is big for us.”

Two huge plays

A (major) turning point:

It was third-and-12 for the Broncos at their 29 with 2:56 left in the first half when Crosby was flagged for unnecessary roughness on quarterback Russell Wilson. Drive extended. Crosby not happy.

“I’m going full speed there,” he said.

But that’s when he told safety Duron Harmon he would step up after the miscue, that he would make a key play to keep Denver from scoring.

Turns out, he made two.

Denver running back Melvin Gordon was headed for the goal line when Crosby stripped him of the ball near the 2. The Broncos eventually recovered at the 7 but faced fourth-and 5.

So they trotted out place-kicker Brandon McManus with two seconds left and holding a 10-7 lead.

Snap. Hold. Kick.

Blocked by Crosby.

“Happy that I got my hand on the ball twice down there,” he said.

It more than got his teammates going as they sprinted off the field. More than gave them the sort of jolt needed after a penalty-plagued first half.

It’s the NFL. Guys shouldn’t have to be prodded into playing with an elevated sense of intensity. But when you’re 2-7 — as the Raiders were before departing a winner — discovering a specific level of energy often can be as taxing as any practice.

Harmon noticed it Wednesday. Saw a defense that was lagging. That wasn’t celebrating one another. That needed a good kick in the rear. So he challenged teammates to alter their attitudes and bring the sort of fire needed to compete — to win — at this level.

Nobody answered like Crosby.

Top 10 player

“We all know Maxx is a tremendous player — truthfully, a top 10 defensive player in this league,” Harmon said. “Week in and week out, he gives us great energy and plays the right way. He just took over the game when we needed him to. That’s why he’s the player he is.

“If he keeps playing like that, we’re going to be a more and more successful defense.”

Talk about a final stat line: Crosby was credited with six tackles (two for loss), two sacks, three quarterback hits, the forced fumble and blocked field goal.

He remains by far the best player on what has been more than a forgettable defense this season.

By far the most important, emotional, inspirational, energetic sort on that side of the ball.

“It’s the little things in football,” Crosby said. “The tiny details between winning and losing that we had been missing. Just go out and play for each other with passion — things that require no talent. Everybody is good in this league. Everybody knows football. Everybody knows how to play football.

“But it’s the little details that we had today. We had the juice … We’ve been through a lot. I’m just proud of all the guys. They worked their asses off.”

None more than him.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

Like and follow Vegas Nation