SEATTLE – The Raiders were down big and in desperate need of a second-half spark against the Seattle Seahawks. An unheralded Raider gave them one.
Recent practice-squad promotion Denico Autry broke free and blocked a punt eventually recovered by Brice Butler for a touchdown.
It brought the Raiders back from the dead, and gave them hope in a dramatic second half of a game previously a blowout in the making.
While the Raiders couldn’t complete a comeback and eventually lost 30-24 on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, quality special teams play gave them a puncher’s chance to take down the Super Bowl champs.
“We got back in the game on special teams,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “We needed something to turn the tide a little bit. Denico Autry did a great to block that punt, and that was a great way to get us jump-started.”
TJ Carrie revved the engine a few drives later with a 27-yard punt return that put the Raiders in position to score a touchdown that sliced the Seahawks lead to 24-17.
Carrie hurt his team in the second quarter with a lost fumble returning a punt that he took full responsibility for – the Seahawks missed a field goal on the ensuing drive – and was happy to make amends in the second half.
“Special teams can be a game changer,” Carrie said. “ Plays in the kicking game gave us a chance in the second half, which is what you need when things get rough. The momentum was on our side after those two plays.”
The Raiders couldn’t keep it. The Seahawks hit two late field goals. The offense stalled early in the fourth quarter, and got going too late to finish a comeback.
“We got a score there at the end and had a chance,” Sparano said. “We set up an onside kick, had the ball on the ground and ultimately couldn’t recover it.”