For the better part of four quarters Sunday, Darrius Heyward-Bey seemed to atone for his bumbling performance Dec. 11 in Green Bay, where the third-year receiver dropped three passes in the 46-16 loss against the Packers.
And despite having statistically the best game of his career Sunday against the Detroit Lions, tallying 155 yards on eight receptions with one touchdown, Heyward-Bey has yet to complete that one stellar game that doesn’t feature a crucial mistake.
That one mistake Sunday came in the final moments of the third quarter where the Raiders, ahead 17-14, appeared to assemble a drive that would eventually end in a score. After a 29-yard reception from Carson Palmer, Heyward-Bey coughed up the ball, courtesy of a Justin Durant tackle, on the Lions’ 15-yard line. Detroit recovered the fumble on their own eight.
“It’s not like he is trying to fumble the ball, but you have to do everything you can to make sure you don’t,” Raiders coach Hue Jackson said. “He was not trying to drop a ball, you have got to make sure you do everything you can to catch it.”
Heyward-Bey struggled to describe the difficult defeat.
“We lost,” he said. “Learn from our mistakes, and try to get ready for Saturday against Kansas City.”
But the standout collegiate career Heyward-Bey put together before being the seventh overall pick in 2009 hasn’t translated — yet — to the pros. His rookie year can statistically be described as mediocre, recording 124 yards on nine catches with a one touchdown. The following season was better than his first, notching 366 yards on 26 receptions with, again, one touchdown.
And this season has by far been better than his first two.
“I think what we are going to see is a guy that is a star,” Jackson said. “I keep telling him about the plays you have got to make, and he made some spectacular plays. But again there are a couple of plays he wished he had back too that would change the whole dynamics of this game.”
With wideouts Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore being humbled by injuries over the past few weeks, Heyward-Bey has maneuvered himself into the premier receiving spot, leading the team with 775 yards on 51 receptions.
Those stats could’ve been solidified even more so if Heyward-Bey didn’t drop a pass in the final seconds. A catch might have placed Oakland within field-goal range, barring the game clock not expiring.
“There was eight seconds after that play that happened,” Jackson said, admitting that getting a play off would’ve been tight. “I really believe we had a chance at it.”
Raiders vs. Chiefs
WHEN: Sunday, 10 a.m.
WHERE: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
TV: CBS (KPIX, Ch. 5)
RADIO: KITS (105.3 FM), KFRC (1550 AM)