Big plays, disputed calls, lasers highlight return to Mexico
MEXICO CITY (AP) Derek Carr made more big plays for Oakland, questionable calls by the officials peeved the Texans and an unexpected laser show from the stands took both teams off guard.
The NFL's second regular season game in Mexico City featured a little bit of everything.
Carr threw two of his three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and the Raiders capitalized on two disputed spots that thwarted a potential scoring drive for Houston to beat the Texans 27-20 on Monday night.
''It wasn't maybe one of our cleaner games in terms of execution but we showed tremendous grit,'' coach Jack Del Rio said. ''We got an opportunity late in the game to seize control and we did.''
The Raiders (8-2) got a little help as well on the way to their first four-game winning streak since their last playoff season in 2002. The most notable breaks came midway through the fourth quarter when the Texans (6-4) were driving for a potential go-ahead score after Oakland had tied the game on Carr's 75-yard pass to Jamize Olawale .
On a third-and-2 from the Oakland 16, Lamar Miller ran wide and appeared to get the first down before being tackled by Malcolm Smith. But the officials spotted it short of the marker and coach Bill O'Brien opted not to challenge.
O'Brien then went for it on fourth-and-inches instead of kicking the go-ahead field goal. Akeem Hunt ran up the middle and the Texans thought he got the first down, only to have it marked about an inch short . O'Brien challenged this time but with no clear angle, the play was not overturned.
''I felt like we needed a touchdown there and obviously we did,'' O'Brien said. ''And so we went for it. Thought we had it, looked like it was clear that we had it, so I challenged it and they said we didn't have it. They said the call on the field stands, so I don't know.''
Five plays later, Carr connected on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper that gave the Raiders (8-2) a 27-20 lead and sent them to their fourth straight win.
The most memorable image of the NFL's first game in Mexico City since 2005 might have been the green laser that frequently shined in Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler's direction as a potential distraction used more commonly in soccer games here.
''I never want to say one thing's a difference maker, but certainly having a laser zoomed in your eyeball definitely affects how you play a game,'' Osweiler said.
Here are some other things to take away from the Raiders win:
CARR'S NIGHT: Carr turned a lackluster night into a special one with his big fourth quarter. He finished 21 of 31 for 295 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Just like he did in comeback wins over New Orleans, Baltimore and Tampa Bay, he was at his best in the fourth quarter.
''Having that trigger man who can make those kinds of plays is everything,'' Del Rio said. ''He did a great job tonight staying poised. To me that's one of the keys, the poise he's playing with is kind of unflappable.''
CLOSE CALL: The Texans nearly scored a touchdown on their opening drive when DeAndre Hopkins took a short pass from Osweiler and ran into the end zone. But officials ruled he stepped out at the Oakland 36 after a gain of 24. The Texans were unable to challenge the play because it was blown dead.
FAVORITE TARGET: There's something about facing Osweiler that brings out the best in Mack. After sacking Osweiler five times last year in Denver, Mack brought him down again on the final play of the first half. That gives Mack sacks in five straight games.
TOUCHDOWN FIRSTS: The teams traded touchdowns in the first half with a pair of rookies getting their first scoring receptions in their career. Oakland's Jalen Richard struck first when he took a third-down slant from Carr and ran over two defenders for a 17-yard score . Houston's Braxton Miller answered when he juked David Amerson with a nifty move for a 12-yard score that tied the game at 10.
WHAT'S NEXT: Both teams have a short week coming up with the Texans hosting San Diego and the Raiders hosting Carolina on Sunday. Both teams hold a one-game lead in the division race and have little margin for error.
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