By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Pro Football Writer
Maybe Oakland Raiders’ wideout Michael Crabtree should stop wearing gold chains during games.
And maybe Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib should stop pulling jewelry off Crabtree’s neck.
For the second time in less than 11 months, Talib yanked Crabtree’s chain, only the difference Sunday was that the whole thing escalated into a full-blown fight.
Crabtree, who already had mixed it up with Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr., shoved Talib to the ground on Denver’s sideline, then immediately was surrounded by a half-dozen Broncos. And on and on it went, 3 minutes into – and the most interesting part of – Oakland’s 21-14 victory. Punches were thrown , players chased each other menacingly around the field and three were ejected, including the two principals and Raiders guard Gabe Jackson, who pushed an official.
As Broncos linebacker Shane Ray put it: “It was just chaos.”
A weak Raiders receiving corps could have used Crabtree, whose career-long, 120-game catch streak ended. A mediocre Broncos defense could have used Talib.
The NFL could tack on additional punishment.
“The bottom line is we can’t afford to lose one of our top receivers and then our starting guard because he went over there and helped his buddy,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “We can’t get two guys tossed like that.”
Broncos coach Vance Joseph’s take?
“I don’t like it and it’s unacceptable,” he said. “We can’t lose our best players because of personal battles. That’s a personal battle. This is about the Broncos, so it’s unacceptable. We can’t have it. It’s nonnegotiable.”
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It’s probably no surprise that Kansas City’s Andy Reid offered up a mix of coach-speak, self-blame and nonspecific mumbo-jumbo while saying he hadn’t contemplated replacing Alex Smith as his starting quarterback after the Chiefs lost to the Buffalo Bills 16-10 to prolong their downward spiral. “That’s not where I’m at right now,” Reid said. “There are a couple other things I’ve got to take care of.” Fact is, there is a lot wrong with the Chiefs, who have lost five of six games to go from 5-0 to 6-5. Smith has gone from MVP contender to just a guy, one who threw a defeat-sealing interception Sunday and whose offense has one TD in 28 possessions. But when the only other way to go would be to bench him for rookie Pat Mahomes, it would be rather stunning if Reid went benched Smith. Just look at what happened when the Bills sat Tyrod Taylor a week ago: Rookie Nate Peterman threw five interceptions – IN THE FIRST HALF. So Taylor was back in there against the Chiefs.
JIMMY G’S TD
Jimmy Garoppolo finally got a chance to play for his new team, the San Francisco 49ers, and threw a final-play, 10-yard touchdown pass after starting QB C.J. Beathard’s left leg got hurt with a little more than a minute left while losing to the Seattle Seahawks 24-13. Garoppolo was acquired in a trade-deadline deal with the New England Patriots, presumably to be the Niners’ quarterback of the future, but had been kept under wraps.
STATS OF THE DAY
If you thought Julio Jones was impressive in Atlanta’s 34-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 12 catches, 253 yards, two TDs – take a look at the career passer numbers for his fellow Falcons wideout Mohamed Sanu: a perfect rating of 158.3. Sanu improved to 6 for 6 for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the NFL, connecting with Jones on a 51-yard score Sunday. He is the first non-QB with two TD passes of at least 50 yards since Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Jones, meanwhile, turned in his third career game with 250 receiving yards; no one else has more than one.
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