NFL London: Raiders thwart Bears as Josh Jacobs lifts Oakland to upset at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Oakland Raiders 24-21 Chicago Bears: The rookie running back punched in two touchdowns to upset the Super Bowl hopefuls
A fierce, hostile cacophony of whistles pierced the ears of those NFL fans in attendance at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium throughout a thrilling game that had it all.
In the game that has surely raised the bar for this sport in London and Europe in general, the Chicago Bears’s following swarmed this corner of north London, yet the voracious group were forced to be patient after their team’s drab start. The inconspicuous absence of starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky after a shoulder injury should not have brought this team to a grinding halt, given it was hardly firing on all cylinders. Yet the Oakland Raiders immediately revealed their intent to drown out the noise in pursuit of a second consecutive upset after foiling the Colts last week.
A sickening elbow injury to defensive talisman Akiem Hicks after a mere eight snaps certainly exposed what could be the NFL’s most fearsome defence just a little more. And Derek Carr gleefully began plotting his way downfield, coolly converting five of his first six third downs as the crowd smelt an upset. After conceding just five touchdowns in their first four games, the Raiders slashed the Bears defence twice in five minutes through rookie running back Josh Jacobs and back-up Deandre Washington – much to the chagrin of Jacobs fantasy owners.
But just as Oakland began to tighten their grip on the contest, Carr coughed up a gift, spilling the ball before Khalil Mack gobbled it up and returned it like a boulder rolling downhill. Another flashy rookie back in David Montgomery punched it in and the Bears had life.
Chase Daniel’s meticulously managed gameplay was then torn up as Matt Nagy smelt blood, to the delight of the fans. Daniel was unleashed with five minutes remaining in the third and aired one out towards Anthony Miller deep right, with the receiver ripping the ball away from the covering Lemarcus Joyner. Allen Robinson was then found for the touchdown, pulling them within three, yet the loudest roar was still to come.
Tarik Cohen displayed feet that would not look out of place on Strictly Come Dancing in his return, but then added turbo-jet speed in an explosive 71-yard return. A wave of noise from the Bears fans produced an atmosphere seldom seen in more than a decade of football in the capital. Robinson, once more, profited, this time to snatch the lead for the first time in the game.
Like a wounded animal, the Chicago defence suddenly came to life, with Sherrick McManis punching the ball clean out of Trevor Davis’s hands just a yard away from the end zone in tribute to innovator and former Bear Charles Tillman, who coined the play the ‘Peanut Punch’. It was a spectacular play that this team has become accustomed to showcasing on a weekly basis.
Robinson then flashed once more, showing majestic spacial awareness mid-flight, kicking his foot into the turf like deep sea diver before he was bundled out of bounds in one of the moments of the game.
A gutsy Carr rallied Oakland though, finding comfort from his tight ends Darren Waller and Foster Moreau. And Jacobs capitalised, leaping high over the line of scrimmage and over the line before being thrown backwards - Oakland led once more.
Daniel was given one last chance though with less than two minutes remaining, yet emphatically reminded us of who he is: a back-up. Crumbling under pressure, he handed Gareon Conley game-clinching interception and the upset, bringing the curtain down on one of the greatest London games. Three more games await, but this one might just be the one that clinches the city a team of its own someday.