LAS VEGAS -- NostraJacobs?
Josh Jacobs, the Las Vegas Raiders' preternatural second-year running back, was taking in the final minute of the first half Sunday from the sideline as he saw his defense trying to protect a four-point lead.
"It's going to be a pick," Jacobs uttered. "This next play."
Sure enough, just after Broncos quarterback Drew Lock fired into the middle of the field at the goal line, aiming for receiver Jerry Jeudy, Raiders safety Jeff Heath jumped Jeudy's slant route, corralled the ball and scampered upfield to the 18-yard line. One Derek Carr kneeldown later, and the Raiders were rejuvenated.
Heath's pick, his second of the first half, helped kick-start the Raiders, which turned a potential pratfall into a much-needed 37-12 laugher over the Broncos.
"Yeah, that was big," said Raiders coach Jon Gruden, in an understatement.
Because not only did the play keep the Broncos out of the end zone at the end of the first half, the Raiders had the ball to start the second half and kicked a 52-yard field goal.
"We try to double up when we can," Gruden added. "That wasn't the conventional double-up way, but Jeff Heath made a big play that ignited us against the Chiefs and, boy, we're going to need him this week because we've got a great team coming to town."
But that's a different story for later in the week, even with the Raiders improving to 6-3 on the season, 3-0 in the division and having handed those defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs their lone loss in the last calendar year, in Week 5 at Arrowhead Stadium.
For now, it is all about Heath, and how he flipped the game with his team-leading third interception (he victimized Lock late in the first quarter on an overthrown ball to KJ Hamler and returned it 24 yards).
Both of those picks came off tipped passes, Heath recalled, and they came in a 10-6 loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"These two," Heath said, "felt better."
And why not? The goal-line interception, by the way, came one snap after Heath was able to draw an offensive holding call that negated Lock's touchdown run.
"Saw the formation," Heath said, "read the No. 2 running back's route and it was just great job of coaches letting us know what was coming and then being able to capitalize on the play."
"Focus on each play to do your job," he said. "When you do your job, and you know what to do and you do it and you do it fast, most of the time you're going to have success."
So then what, exactly, did the all-seeing Jacobs observe before uttering his prophecy?
"They kept doing under-routes, crossing routes," Jacobs said. "I knew it was just a matter of time before we stepped in and picked one. And when he did, it was huge. It definitely took the life out of them. I felt like that was where it kind of gave us back the momentum because they was kind of running away with it for a second."
Until Heath ran the other way with the ball -- just like Jacobs foretold.