Raiders WR Seth Roberts makes mark with game-winning TD
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) When Seth Roberts watched his old college teammate from Division II West Alabama make the play that decided the Super Bowl earlier this year, it gave him the confidence that maybe he too could succeed in the NFL despite his small-school pedigree.
Two games into his NFL career, Roberts has a game-winning play of his own to match Malcolm Butler's interception in the Super Bowl for New England - even if it did come on a much smaller stage.
That one play turned Roberts from a mostly anonymous former practice squader into an NFL contributor.
''I heard from a lot of people,'' he said. ''I had to turn my phone off. I just want to be the old Seth and just chill.''
Roberts has come a long way from the player who had no scholarship offers out of high school then spent two years in junior college in Mississippi at Pearl River Community College and then played two more years at West Alabama.
He had 62 catches for 1,169 yards and 13 touchdowns in two years for a running-based team but also had the opportunity to go up against Butler each day in practice. After struggling his first year, Roberts said he held his own against Butler the next and they still keep in touch.
''We still holler at each other right now,'' Roberts said. ''He hit me up after the game. He said it's a blessing to see us doing our thing.''
Roberts signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent last year and did enough to earn a spot on the practice squad, where he was able to learn the NFL game and add needed strength.
''Talk about a guy that the first day we threw routes on there, it didn't look too pretty,'' Carr said. ''Back in rookie minicamp days and just to watch him work, watch him get better at his craft, to make the team after being on practice squad and to make the game-winning catch and he deserves all the credit.''
Roberts put together a strong preseason with 15 catches for 243 yards and a touchdown to make the 53-man roster this year as part of a deeper receiving group that made high-profile additions with Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
He improved enough over the past year to beat out several receivers with NFL experience.
''We felt like the guys that were returning would have a chance to develop and we just wanted them to compete and compete on special teams, compete for roles on offense,'' coach Jack Del Rio said. ''Seth has just taken that opportunity and run with it.''
Roberts had a shaky debut performance when he caught three passes for 12 yards and dropped two others in a loss to Cincinnati. But the Raiders traded a former drafted receiver, Brice Butler, to Dallas during the week and kept Roberts active last Sunday ahead of Rod Streater, who led the team in receiving in 2013.
Roberts played 49 snaps in his second game. For the first 48, he was an afterthought as either a blocker on a run play or decoy in the passing game.
But with the game on the line, Carr went to Roberts for the winning score on a slant over the middle.
''I kept my head in the game and stayed focused,'' he said. ''I read the coverage and I slipped inside, found a crease and got open.''
The Raiders hope that will be the first of many such plays.
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