Tyrell Williams delights, dismays Raiders in return

HOUSTON -- Tyrell Williams' return from plantar fasciitis helped jumpstart the Oakland Raiders' passing attack Sunday against the Houston Texans.

This was especially true in the third quarter, when he hauled in a 23-yard pass to set Oakland up in Texans territory and then, three snaps later, blew by former teammate Gareon Conley on a crossing route to score on a 46-yard catch-and-run to give the Raiders a 21-13 lead.

But as huge as those catches were, two drops in the fourth quarter were just as, if not more, deflating in the Raiders' eventual 27-24 loss.

"I know there's two there that he wants back," Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said of Williams. "Two or three of them. But you guys know me, when Tyrell has been in there, when we had [Amari Cooper] and [Michael Crabtree] rolling, I don't care if they drop the ball, whatever, they're going to get their chances. If we don't connect, If I miss a throw, the ball is still coming with confidence.

"Tyrell did a great job, and there's probably two or three I could have maybe thrown a better ball for him that we could have back."

Thing was, there were no opportunities to get the ball back after Williams' drops.

On the first, with the Raiders on Houston's 45-yard line, Carr underthrew the ball a tad down the right sideline. Williams, covered by cornerback Keion Crossen, seemed to tangle himself up as he turned back for the ball, which bounced off his hands for an incompletion. It would have been at least a 20-yard pickup and set up, at worst, a chip-shot field goal-attempt for Daniel Carlson and a likely 27-27 tie.

Williams' second drop came three plays later on third-and-16 from the Raiders' 49 after a costly holding penalty on left guard Richie Incognito.

This time, Carr found Williams down the left sideline, tangled with Conley. The ball was in Williams' grasp for a second at the 25-yard line before Conley tugged at Williams' wrist and the ball popped out.

The Raiders punted with 4:03 to play and never saw the ball again.

In fairness, Williams was not signed to a four-year, $44 million free-agent deal with a max value of $47 million and $22 million guaranteed to be the Raiders' No. 1 receiver. He was supposed to be Robin to Antonio Brown's Batman.

And we all know how that worked out.

Plus, it was Williams' first game since Week 4. This week was the first time he had practiced since before the game at the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 29.

But as any receiver will tell you, if they can get their hands on it, they should catch it.

"I've got to come down with those and be stronger with the ball," said Williams, who finished with three catches, on six targets, for 91 yards and the TD.

"I have to make those plays."

True. And yet, he did set a franchise record by scoring a TD in each of his first five games with the Raiders.

Even if the Raiders only had three possessions -- total -- in the second half.

"We had some chances," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. "We're playing a team that plays ... man-to-man, really. They're not screwing around. They're playing in-your-grill man-to-man. I wouldn't say 100 percent, but a high percentage, and with that being said, you've got to take some shots and try to win those 50-50-balls."

The key going forward, obviously, is catching them.