Up-and-down day for Randall vs. Cooper
OAKLAND, Calif. - Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall has shown a knack for finding the football. On Sunday, it found him.
Randall saw the hitch route unfold before him in the first quarter, and his eyes got big. With the Raiders trying to answer the Packers’ first touchdown, outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott pressured quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr overthrew intended receiver Seth Roberts, flinging a pass that sailed straight to Randall.
Once he caught the football, Randall didn’t stop running until he returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. In the end zone, the rookie unleashed a vicious spike. His score gave the Packers an early 14-point cushion, setting the tone in what eventually became a 30-20 win.
“I’m a big fan of Gronk,” Randall said of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who's noted for his smashing spikes after touchdowns. “So I actually kind of did the Gronk spike.”
Randall’s first career score couldn’t have come any easier. The former center fielder merely played Carr’s pass like a fly ball, settling underneath the popup. It was Randall’s third interception this season, a number that could earn him a spot on the NFL’s all-rookie team.
Fittingly, Randall was matched against another player who likely will make the all-rookie list. With top cornerback Sam Shields out because of a concussion, Randall drew the assignment of covering Raiders No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper.
“That’s a huge challenge,” fellow Packers defensive back Micah Hyde said. “He accepted the challenge coming in. We know what Randall is capable of doing. He’s a big-time player, but we also know 89 (Cooper) is a big-time player, too.
“Randall accepted the challenge. He went out there and played his heart out. At the end of the day, we got the win.”
It wasn’t a flawless afternoon for Randall. Cooper got the better of him multiple times, catching six passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. He became the first Raiders receiver to exceed the 1,000-yard mark in a season since Randy Moss in 2005.
Randall said it’s a “game of inches,” and there were times he was just a “half second” from turning his head an making a play. It’s a learning experience for a young cornerback. Of course, Randall also held his own against one of the NFL’s best, young receivers.
“Corner is basically, you’re assigned man to man,” Randall said. “It’s just mano-a-mano out there. Guys are going to make plays, and you’re going to make plays. I’m just glad that we got the win, and to just keep on pushing forward.
“I’m just glad we got the win.”