LAS VEGAS — Chandler Jones let himself get emotional.
In the scrum in the south end of Allegiant Stadium, getting jostled by teammates shocked at what he’d just done — intercept a last-ditch Jakobi Meyers lateral pass, stiff-arm Mac Jones, and rumble 55 yards into the Patriots end zone for the Raiders’ game-winning touchdown — Jones let the tears fall.
And there was a reason for that.
“I teared up a little bit because I just love football,” the 32-year-old Raiders defensive end said in the locker room as the music blasted and teammates whooped and hollered around him, celebrating their 30-24 win over New England. “I’m a huge fan of the game, I love the sport, and I think when I started to tear up I think it just hit me how big of a play I had made …
“So I was like, you know what? Let me take this moment for myself a little bit and drop a few tears.”
Jones earned those tears, and the cheers that erupted after the Raiders scored 13 points in the final minute of regulation to beat his former team.
Here’s how he saw the play:
“When I caught it at first, I was thinking: ‘Who’s around me?’ I felt myself stumble a little back and stiff-armed, and I was thinking who do I pitch it to? I was just trying to keep the ball alive.
“And then when I stayed up I just turned my jets on, and the rest was history.”
That’s for sure. And his teammates made sure they celebrated like it — maybe a little too much.
“Honestly, I was just trying to catch my breath when I got in the end zone. I was just standing there, all my teammates were pushing me in every direction and I really couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see much, and I guess we had won the game. It was wild.”
Jones hadn’t thought much about the fact that the most iconic play of his career came against his former team. The Patriots drafted Jones out of Syracuse in the first round in 2012, and he spent four fruitful seasons in New England, winning one Super Bowl ring before being traded to the Cardinals in 2016. He signed with the Raiders in March.
“When you play against a former team, you never really want to speak about it,” Jones said. “But you always have that in your mind like, I kind of get this team. So it does feel a little good that I did a little silent brag there. It felt good.”
It was the third touchdown scored by Jones in his 10-year career, but the first since he returned a blocked field goal for a score against the Vikings in 2014 (he didn’t remember the year, but he remembered the play).
Someone asked if Jones had grabbed the game ball. His head perked up, yelling for the Raiders staffer who said he’d keep it safe.
Then, he entered the showers. His teammates stopped and cheered.
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