A Year In Review: Michael Crabtree
A detailed review of Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree in 2016. From his stats to his big plays to problems with drops.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree had A YEAR in 2016 — the most memorable year of his professional career.
After winning the Biletnikoff Award as College Football’s best receiver in each of his two seasons as a starter at Texas Tech, the former Red Raider had a bit of an underwhelming professional career prior to the 2016 season, as a member of both of the Bay Area’s professional football franchises.
That all changed this season.
With Derek Carr’s ascension to an elite, MVP-candidate quarterback in 2016, Crabtree feasted on opposing cornerbacks — particularly with the game in the balance — and may have had the most clutch season in NFL History for a wide receiver. Seriously.
Crabtree posted a career high in receptions (89) and recored his second 1,000 yard receiving campaign in the NFL (1,003), falling 103 yards short of a career high as a second option behind Amari Cooper.
Crab was able to post these numbers with Carr missing almost the entire final five quarters of regular season with a broken fibula, not to mention having a broken and dislocated pinky on his throwing hand for nearly five full games prior to that. With Carr healthy the whole season, his numbers would have been even more impressive.
Crabtree was one of only four pass-catchers in the NFL to go over the 1,000 yards receiving mark, while not leading his team in receiving yards. He was Oakland’s leading receiver in eight different games — which was a team high.
The self-anointed “King Crab” was also on the receiving end of two of Derek Carr’s NFL record five go-ahead or game-winning touchdown strikes in the fourth quarter or overtime this year. Aside from those two touchdown catches, Crabtree was clutch time again time again this season with the game on the line.
Let’s take a closer look at Crabtree’s week by week performance.
Michael Crabtree: Week 1 to Week 9
Crabtree’s most memorable play of the year may have come in the opening week of the season. On the road against the New Orleans Saints, trailing by two points with 47 seconds left in the game, he snatched the game-winning two-point conversion on a jump-ball from Derek Carr.
It was a do-or-die play that set the tone for the season, and it capped a strong performance to start the year — 7 catches for 87 yards.
Crabtree had a quiet game against the Falcons, posting just 4 catches for 31 yards. But he came up clutch once again, hauling in a touchdown to tie the game at 21 with about 12 minutes remaining in the game.
His clutch moments would be a trend that continued throughout the season.
Crabtree posted his first 100-yard receiving day in 11 games, totaling 8 receptions for 102 yards.
His strong performance helped the Raiders edge out a close 17-10 road win over the Tennessee Titans.
This may be Crabtree’s marquee performance of the season. He posted a career-high 3 touchdown receptions to go along with 88 yards on 7 catches, including the game-winning touchdown grab — his second game-winning catch of the season.
The Raiders beat the Ravens 28-27 thanks to Crabtree’s heroics, and were off to a 3-1 start to the year.
The Raiders receiver hauled in a 21-yard touchdown strike from Carr to put the Raiders ahead for good with 1:09 remaining in the third quarter, which although it wasn’t late in the 4th, it would prove to be his third game-winning catch of the year.
In the victory over the Chargers, he had 3 catches for 47 yards.
Not a lot to be said for Crab’s Week 6 performance against the Chiefs. Which was the case for not just Crabtree, but many members of the team.
He had one of his worst statistical games of the season, catching just 2 passes for 10 yards in a 26-10 home defeat to their AFC West rivals.
King Crab rebounded in a big way, recording 8 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. This performance would spring-board a run of four out of six games in which he hauled in at least 7 passes.
His touchdown catch came with11 seconds remaining in the first half, and it put the Raiders ahead for good. Oakland would go on to defeat the Jaguars by a score of 33-16.
Crabtree helped setup a game-winning field goal attempt from Janikowski via a 10-yard grab, which put the offense on the Tampa Bay 45-yard line with 44 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, SeaBass pushed the 50-yard boot wide left as time expired, sending the game to overtime.
He again came up clutch on third down during the opening drive of the overtime period, hauling in a 45-yard reception from Carr to bring Oakland to the Tampa 23. But after 20 yards worth of penalties and not much else, Janikowski pulled a 52-yard kick wide right.
On the next drive, No. 15 corralled a 41-yard bomb from Carr to bring the Raiders to the Tampa Bay 25, but off-setting penalties negated the clutch-play of Crabtree. He snagged a 10-yard pass several plays later, but Del Rio elected not to try a 60-yard game-winning field goal.
Crab ended up with 8 catches for 108 yards against the Buccaneers.
Crabtree had a pedestrian 27 yards and tied for a season low of 2 receptions during a 30-20 home victory over the Denver Broncos. He also had a false start penalty in the second quarter.
Both of his catches came on the same drive, capped by a 14-yard, helmet-less grab on 3rd & 17. The reception setup a 35-yard Janikowski field goal that proved to be the game-winner.
Michael Crabtree: Week 9 to Wild Card
Crabtree had one of his worst statistical games of the year in Mexico City.
In a “home” game against the Texans, Crabtree had just 3 receptions for 5 yards on seven targets. The Raiders won a close one, 27-20, despite the poor performance.
He posted a season-high receiving yards in Week 12 against the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers — 110 yards on 8 catches.
Crabtree’s knack for coming up clutch continued against Carolina. He had a first down grab in the second quarter that helped to set up a Janikowski field goal, a 7-yard catch on 3rd & 3 that setup the game-tying touchdown, and a two-point conversion with 8:37 remaining in the contest. He also had the final two receptions and 64 receiving yards on the last scoring drive of a tie game, which setup Oakland’s game-winning field goal with 1:45 remaining.
Crabtree led the Raiders in receiving yards for the fifth time on the season with 74 yards on 7 receptions, and he added a touchdown for good measure.
The touchdown came with with 5:17 remaining in the third quarter, starting a run of 29 unanswered points by the Raiders. Oakland rallied for what would be a 15-point victory over the Bills.
Crabtree had a quiet evening in the freezing temperatures of Kansas City, with just 4 grabs on seven targets for 21 yards.
He was second on the team in targets and receptions and tied for third in receiving yards, but had a tough game against a quality secondary. Crabtree’s pinky was also a factor.
The veteran wideout paced Oakland in receiving yards for the sixth time of the season, thanks to 60 yards on 6 catches, including one touchdown.
His 13-yard touchdown reception tied the game at 10 with 22 seconds to go before halftime. Janikowski would put the game on ice with three field goals in the second half, leading to a 19-10 season sweep over the Chargers.
In what may be the most painful Raiders victory in franchise history, Crabtree again led Oakland in receiving yards. This time he racked up 90 yards on 7 grabs before Carr’s outstanding season came to a crashing-halt.
But Crab’s strong performance helped lead the Silver and Black to their 12th and final victory of the season.
Once again, Crabtree led Oakland in receiving yards. This would be the eighth time of the season that he accomplished this feat.
With Connor Cook and Matt McGloin at the helm, Crabtree recorded 5 catches and 47 yards. The inept Oakland offense could only muster six points and 221 yards of total offense.
Crabtree had a rough game in Oakland’s first playoff appearance in 14 years. He had just 2 receptions for 33 yards in a 27-14 loss to the Houston Texans, with rookie Connor Cook making his first career start in a road playoff game.
The former first-round pick was second on the team in receiving yards, but was held in check by a combination of quality secondary play and a poor performance from his quarterback — who was just 18 of 45 for 161 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions and a 5.5 QBR.
At 29 years of age, Michael Crabtree had the best season of his career and one of Raider-lore. We’ll see what he has up his sleeve for an encore perforce when the 2017 season kicks off.
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