Jackson fumbles chance to play hero’s role in Raiders debut

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LAS VEGAS (AP)DeSean Jackson fumbled the chance to be a playmaker in his Las Vegas Raiders debut.

The newly signed deep threat lost the ball on his only catch of the night, contributing to the Raiders’ 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.

”Maybe a turning point in the game to some degree,” interim coach Rich Bisaccia said. ”The bottom came out after that.”

When Jackson arrived this week, he was modest in explaining his wants and needs, saying he was simply there to fulfill whatever role the Raiders needed.

”I’m not asking to get the ball 100 times, I’m not asking to play 100% – whatever that role is that fits, just let me play it to the best of my ability,” he said Wednesday. ”Being that spark, what I’ve been able to do my whole career. Deep threat, vertical threat … if it’s being a decoy opening it up for other guys … whatever it is I need to do to be a spark, that’s what I’m here for.”

In his biggest moment Sunday night, he fumbled away that chance.

Trailing 24-14 late in the third quarter, Derek Carr stepped up in the pocket and fired the ball 40 yards downfield, targeting Jackson for the first time.

A tad underthrown, Jackson made a slight adjustment to make the catch behind diving Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu and had nothing but 22 yards of wide-open space to outrun defensive back Rashad Fenton to the end zone. But rather than turn upward and head toward the goal line, the guy who was supposed to replace Henry Ruggs’ speed retreated and turned inward.

It proved costly, as Fenton closed in and wrapped Jackson’s waist with his left arm while simultaneously punching the ball free with his right hand, giving Mathieu a chance to redeem himself for allowing the reception in the first place.

”I think the football Gods were on my side,” said Matthieu, who corralled the loose ball and returned it 14 yards to boost the momentum Kansas City had seized – and igniting a heavy fanbase sitting among the announced 62,125 attendees.

Kansas City answered with 17 straight points to close the game and made an emphatic statement that it isn’t ready to release the five-year grip it’s had on the AFC West.

Though his first reception clearly didn’t turn out the way he’d hoped, everything else Jackson brought to the field hints at an optimistic future with the Raiders (5-4).

”He’s been playing the game of football for a long time and he wishes definitely he had that back,” receiver Hunter Renfrow said. ”That was a heck of a play he made. To come out, to get us going … to come off the street basically and learn a new offense, it was awesome to see him make that catch.

”Yeah, there are some negatives to it, but I think focusing on positives, that was a heck of a play to get his eyes around. Derek threw it online, but yep, I think definitely he would want to have that one back.”

With the Raiders’ next game also at home, Jackson gets another week to become acclimated with his new team without having to worry about travel or disruption before the Cincinnati Bengals arrive.

Jackson led the NFL four times in yards per reception and has the most catches (124) on passes thrown 20 or more yards since 2000. His knack for stretching the field should see his targets increase as he learns the playbook.

”He’s been through those things before, so we’re looking forward to him hopefully having a bigger role as we get going,” Bisaccia said.

”He’s played a lot of football. He did a great job getting open. Derek did a great job getting him the ball, and it came out. So it’s not the turning point maybe in the whole game, but certainly, it was a little bit of a momentum swing back to them.”

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