Oakland grabs emotional win
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Before the season even started, the Oakland Raiders picked this week's game to dedicate to Marquis Cooper, their former special teams star who died in a boating accident earlier this year.
With Cooper's family watching, it was only fitting that it was the type of special teams play Cooper took so much pride in that decided this game.
Bruce Gradkowski threw a 29-yard tying touchdown pass to Louis Murphy with 33 seconds left and Brandon Myers forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set up Sebastian Janikowski's winning 33-yard field goal that gave the Raiders a 20-17 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"He caused the fumble," linebacker Sam Williams said. "That was unbelievable."
Cooper died in a boating mishap off the Florida coast earlier this year. He went on the trip with three friends Feb. 28, but their boat capsized about 70 miles west of Clearwater as the men tried to free a stuck anchor.
Cooper, free-agent NFL defensive lineman Corey Smith and former South Florida player William Bleakley died in the accident. Nick Schuyler, also a former USF player, was the only survivor.
Williams and Justin Fargas showed Cooper's wife, Rebekah, mother, Donna, and 4-year-old daughter, Delaney around this weekend, allowing Rebekah to see the locker where her late husband prepared for games after joining the Raiders last season. After the game, coach Tom Cable told the team that the only game ball would be presented to Cooper's family.
"Before the game his 4-year-old daughter said she was excited to watch the game. She said, 'I get to see my daddy play!'" Williams said. "Man. I just spread the word and everybody felt the emotions of that. It was special."
It took nearly all 60 minutes, four turnovers and a thrilling comeback for the Raiders (3-7) to improve to 10-0 all time in Oakland against the Bengals (7-3), including one playoff win.
But this had to be one of the most painful for Cincinnati.
The Bengals maintained their one-game lead over the Steelers in the AFC North after the Steelers lost in overtime at Kansas City, yet this loss could prove critical to seedings or even a playoff berth down the stretch.
"Coach [Marvin] Lewis talks about it all the time, about really stealing games on the road," receiver Chad Ochocinco said. "These are one of the teams -- no disrespect to them -- that we should have had the game."
Oakland rallied from an early 14-point deficit and trailed, 17-10, with 2:06 left and the ball at the 20.
After a spike, Gradkowski found Murphy near the goal line. Murphy got loose from Morgan Trent and dived across the goal line for the tying score.
First Published November 23, 2009 12:00 am