SAN DIEGO -- Let’s see ... there’s Ghost to the Post. The Sea of Hands. The Divine Interception and, around these parts, the Holy Roller, which elicits more than eye rolls from the Chargers' faithful.
But, with apologies to Ken Stabler’s forward-fumble being kicked around by Pete Banaszak before Dave Casper fell on the ball in the end zone in San Diego for a last-second win in 1978, might Sunday’s 19-16 playoff-clinching victory have added to the annals another legendary name play that proved fortuitous for the Oakland Raiders?
Michael Crabtree’s Slice of Blue catch on the right side of the end zone with 22 seconds remaining in the first half jump-started a sluggish Raiders offense and set the stage for another comeback.
Even if Crabtree, who now has eight touchdown catches on the season, downplayed his play. “It’s just a touchdown,” he insisted in the locker room after the game, “not a turning point.”
Before Crabtree’s catch, the Raiders offense could not get out of its own way in the red zone, Latavius Murray losing a fumble at the Chargers’ 9-yard line in the first quarter and Derek Carr getting picked off at the 3-yard line in the second quarter.
With Oakland trailing 10-3 with 89 seconds remaining in the first half, Carr engineered a furious drive to the San Diego 13-yard line, where the Raiders had a first-and-10 with 27 seconds to play. Taking the snap from the shotgun, Carr lofted a fade to Crabtree, who went up in traffic to pick the ball out of the sky with Trevor Williams in his face.
Crabtree came down with the ball but was initially ruled out of bounds, making it an incomplete pass.
Enter the replay official, a role that did not exist in the days of the Holy Roller. And yes, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio is a fan of instant replay. “I believe in getting it right when you can,” he said. “I’d like to see it expanded to any call that you think is important enough for your team. I’ve got good people that help with that decision-making. We’ve been fortunate to be on the right side of a bunch of those.”
As such, upon further review, it was announced that after Crabtree had secured the football and set the right foot down, there was a “slice of blue” between his left heel and the white sideline, the blue being the color of the Chargers’ painted end zone. Touchdown.
“We practice them so it was just fun to do,” said Crabtree, who more than made up for an earlier drop with the grab. “It’s what you do at practice. We practice it so much, the toe-tap and toe-slide, and it just came alive on Sunday.”
And maybe, depending upon what the Raiders do with their good fortune, it will live forever in the team’s history as another name play ... the Slice of Blue catch.