Wide receiver Keelan Cole knew this much after elevating above Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones and plucking what appeared to be a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Derek Carr in the fourth quarter of the Raiders’ 30-24 victory Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.
“It felt good,” said Cole, the veteran wide receiver in his first season with the Raiders.
“But,” he added. “I don’t know. … I did know it was close. The first thing, I came over to the sideline and I was asking everybody, ‘Did I get my foot in?’”
After further review: Yes, the officials ruled, he did.
Cole and his teammates endured a lengthy review that would confirm his touchdown, tie the game and cap a nine-play, 81-yard drive. That after the Raiders’ previous six possessions in the second half totaled 36 yards and an interception-return touchdown in 23 plays.
Cole’s foot appeared to graze the white paint — several replays were shown on the jumbotrons inside the stadium — that signifies the sideline, and the Raiders would have faced a third-and-10 with 32 seconds remaining if the call had been overturned.
“That one angle, we didn’t know,” Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller said. “Then they showed the back angle, and you saw clearly the foot was inside. It was a blast, man.”
But until that point, it wasn’t for the Raiders, who were stymied in the second half by New England’s sixth-ranked defense. Their first possession resulted in seven points for the Patriots, a byproduct of a telegraphed screen to wide receiver Davante Adams that linebacker Kyle Dugger intercepted and returned 16 yards.
Carr was pressured, running back Josh Jacobs was stuffed at or near the line of scrimmage, and the penalties piled up as a 17-3 lead transformed into a 24-17 deficit with 2:11 to play.
More than enough time for Carr and company to establish the rhythm they seemingly lacked all afternoon.
“You’ve got to count on the defense to get you the ball back to have another chance — and they did,” Carr said. “I remember in the huddle, everyone’s like, ‘Take a deep breath.’ I remember Davante said, ‘Just find a way. Everyone do your job.’”
After three incompletions, Carr fired a rocket to wideout Mack Hollins near the left sideline on a comeback pattern. Hollins caught a 13-yard pass on the same route on the ensuing play, preceding a 6-yard completion to Jacobs and 20-yard pass to tight end Darren Waller up the seam.
Two plays later, Carr connected with Cole.
Walt Anderson, NFL senior vice president of officiating, told a pool reporter that there was not anything conclusive enough to overturn the call.
“We looked at every available angle, and it was not clear and obvious that the foot was on the white,” Anderson said. “It was very tight, very close. There was no shot that we could see — we even enhanced and blew up the views that we had. There was nothing that was clear and obvious that his foot was touching the white.”
For his part in the victory, Cole was awarded a game ball he cradled tightly with his left hand before leaving the locker room.
“I don’t really give a (expletive) about things like this,” said Cole, glancing at the football. “But I enjoyed the win. I enjoyed making a play for the team.”