The Oakland Raiders overcame the Houston Texans by 27-20 thanks to a powerful rally in the fourth quarter on a fiery Monday Night Football in Mexico City.
Having been to the UK three times earlier in the season, the National Football League (NFL) travelled south of the border into Mexico, with the American Football Conference (AFC) South leaders the Houston Texans taking on the high-flying Oakland raiders of the AFC West. 47 points including five touchdowns and a final quarter finish certainly made the trip worthwhile.
Both sides topped their respective divisions heading into the game, but the Raiders were the favourites, with an impressive record of seven wins to two losses before kick-off. The Texans had a slightly more modest record of six wins to three defeats, but a strongly competitive game was expected, and so it proved to be.
Houston were on the scoreboard first, thanks to a successful 32-yard field goal attempt from 35-year-old kicker Nick Novak. However, a penalty for pass interference on the Texans’ strong safety Karl Joseph just before the end of the first quarter presented the Raiders with a chance to take the lead for the first time in the game when the teams switched ends.
Jalen Richard took the opportunity with a touchdown in the first play after the restart, and the addition of the extra point from kicker Sebastian Janikowski gave the Raiders a 7-3 lead in the early stages of the second quarter.
A fumble from Tyler Ervin of the Texans straight from the kick downfield handed the Raiders with another opportunity to take advantage. Though they could only slot home a field goal on this attempt, which took Oakland’s lead to seven points, at 10-3.
Houston thought that they had brought themselves back into the game with a touchdown from Lamar Miller, only for the on-field call to be reversed as Miller had just about left the field of play before entering the end zone.
They weren’t too dismayed though, as namesake Braxton received a pinpoint pass from quarterback Brock Osweiler to bring the Texans within one point of their opponents. The extra point was again successful, and the game was tied at 10 apiece.
(Lamar) Miller did eventually get his touchdown in the third, which gave his side the lead at 17-10, with the extra point again added successfully. Oakland’s only points in the quarter came from another field goal, this time from just 20 yards. This set up a thrilling final quarter in an NFL season that has been full of them.
The Texans extended their lead back to seven points early in the quarter, thanks to a field goal from 28 yards. Rather unexpectedly for this season, all extra points and field goals were converted by both teams, as the kickers were finally appearing to have more success than has tended to be the case.
The Raiders then scored a crucial touchdown just minutes later, thanks to a long run to the house from Jamize Olawale. The Texans were then stopped just inches from a first down on their last attempt, resulting in a turnover in possession. This possession concluded with what turned out to be the winning touchdown, scored by Amari Cooper.
The Texans pushed hard in an attempt to take the game to over-time, but another turnover on fourth down handed the victory to the Raiders.
Despite the loss, Houston still top their division, with a win percentage that is far superior than their nearest rivals – the Indianapolis Colts. The Raiders extended their lead at the top of their group, but with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos close behind, they have by no means wrapped up their division just yet.
In match week 12, both sides have home fixtures, with the Texans entertaining the San Diego Chargers – who sit at the bottom of the Raiders’ division – and the Raiders taking on the Carolina Panthers at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum.
My pick for game of the week is an all NFC tie, which sees the Arizona Cardinals on the road at the Atlanta Falcons. The Cardinals sit one spot below leaders Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West, whilst the Falcons narrowly top the NFC South, just one place above the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – who just so happen to be Seattle’s opponents next week.