It was probably not a coincidence that the Las Vegas Raiders offense broke out of its slump on Thanksgiving when veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson finally saw extended playing time in his third game with the Silver and Black.
Not only did Jackson catch three passes for 102 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown bomb from quarterback Derek Carr to start the scoring in a 36-33 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but he also opened up the field for the rest of the offense.
“That dude is electric,” running back Josh Jacobs said. “It’s crazy. I had talked to him after the game last week and I had told him, ‘Man, we have to find a way to get you the ball,’ and just to see him come in and make big play after big play is definitely major.
“(Bleep), I didn't know he was 35. He looks so effortless, too. He just seems to be gliding, that’s crazy.”
Jackson gives the Raiders (6-5) what they have been missing since speedy wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was released earlier in the season after being arrested for a DUI after causing a fatal car accident early one morning in Las Vegas.
Without a real deep threat, the Raiders struggled not only in the passing game but on offense in general during a three-game losing streak, but signing Jackson as free agent early this month after he was released by the Los Angeles Rams seems to have finally paid off.
It took a while, but that all changed against the Cowboys.
“It’s his third weekend playing with us, and I think the packages you saw come to fruition a little bit today,” interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said. “The big thing was Derek had a lot of time. I thought he stepped up in there today and made really incredible plays.
“ ... But you can see DeSean hopefully getting more and more comfortable with what we're asking him to do. One thing he can still do is run. It was fun to watch him. Even he made the comment he was excited to contribute today, and it was good for him, and it was good for us.”
Not only did Jackson have a big game, but Carr completed 24-of-39 passes for 373 yards and a touchdown without an interception. The Raiders are 6-0 this season when Carr passes for more than 300 yards and 0-5 when he does not.
Even though Carr’s favorite receiver, tight end Darren Waller, went down and out with a bruised right knee in the second quarter, the Raiders offense flourished with Jackson in the lineup to open things up for his teammates.
Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, considered a short-yardage receiver, caught eight passes for 134 yards, including a 54-yarder, and wide receiver Zay Jones made six receptions for 59 yards for his best performance with the Raiders.
Not only that, Jackson also helped open things up for the running game and Jacobs ran for 87 yards on 22 carries, his biggest output of the season by 11 yards, and with 420 total yards he still has an outside chance to gain 1,000 yards for the third straight season with six games remaining.
“The Raiders were a perfect match for me,” said Jackson, who was a second-round NFL draft choice (No. 49) by the Philadelphia Eagles out of Cal in 2008. “Having a quarterback that can get the ball down the field is huge. I had other options but I was very confident in Carr’s ability to get the ball down the field.
“I will do whatever it is I am asked to do. Coming in midway through the season … unfortunately the situation with Ruggs, I am not saying I am filling that role, but just trying to be the spark that I have been my whole career. You know, deep threat, vertical threat, and (forcing) a defense to have to account for that.
“If it’s being a decoy and opening things up for (Darren) Waller or Hunter (Renfrow), whatever I need to do to be a spark is what I am here for. … I’m not asking to get the ball 100 times.”
Jackson played only a combined 25 snaps in his first two games with the Raiders team and had only one reception for 38 yards and fumbled the ball away on that play. Against the Cowboys, he played a season-high 42 snaps, more than he had in seven games with the Rams this season.
In his career with the Eagles, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rams, and Raiders, Jackson has 624 receptions for 11,017 yards and 58 touchdowns, in addition to four kick returns for scores, and was a three-time Pro Bowl Selection.
Even though he turns 35 on Dec. 1, it seems Jackson has plenty left to offer the Raiders.
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