NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Oakland Raiders not only got that winning feeling back, but they got their rookie spark plug back too.
Amari Cooper showed the Raiders what they hoped for after the worst game of his NFL career. After he had one catch for 4 yards and two drops in a loss at Detroit in Week 11, the calm Cooper responded Sunday in a 24-21 Oakland victory at Tennessee. Cooper had a team-high seven catches for 115 yards against the Titans as Oakland improved to 5-6 and snapped a three-game skid.
Cooper’s poor game at Detroit was a Thanksgiving week topic. Cooper didn’t run away from the subject when he said his problem with drops “was a big deal.” Cooper was near the top of the NFL lead in drops, with 10 after Week 11, according to Pro Football Focus. He did not have a drop Sunday on a rainy day in Nashville.
The Raiders were not surprised by Cooper’s response to his poor performance against the Lions. As quarterback Derek Carr said during the week, "I’m not worried about him. He’s Coop, man. He makes a whole bunch of plays. We’ll be all right.”
The Raiders went to Cooper on their first offensive play, and he hauled in a 7-yard catch. It was a tone-setter and message from the No. 4 overall pick that he was ready to contribute. Carr said it was not some grand plan to get Cooper involved early -- it just developed.
After the game, Carr praised Cooper for staying the course and not letting the Detroit game affect him.
“He’s always the same guy,” Carr said.
Cooper said he was pleased to get a chance to get involved early. He said he was not motivated by his poor game last week.
“I moved on from that game,” Cooper said.
Cooper also moved into the Raiders’ record books Sunday. He has 851 receiving yards, now the Oakland rookie record for receiving. He eclipsed the 777 yards James Jett gained in 1993. In a classic Cooper comment, he said Sunday, “It’s always good to break records.”
It might not be his only record. Cooper’s 58 receptions are tied for the sixth-most by an NFL rookie (since 1960) through 11 games. He is the third rookie since the 1970 merger with four 100-yard receiving games in his team’s first 11 games. He is the first Raiders rookie to have four 100-yard receiving games. He is the seventh NFL player with at least 800 receiving yards at age 21 or younger.
Cooper’s strong game was great for Oakland amid whispers of hitting a rookie wall. Cooper’s production had started to wane in recent weeks, even before the game at Detroit. Sunday was Cooper’s first 100-yard game since Week 7. It was only the second time since Week 3 he had at least seven catches.
With Cooper hot again and No. 3 receiver Seth Roberts coming through with six catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner, Carr might have some great options down the stretch.