ALAMEDA — If the Raiders are as superior to the New York Jets as the masses suggest, then Seth Roberts can expect a quiet day. On the other hand, Roberts could be in the middle of things Sunday should the Jets make things interesting.
Raiders fans already know it, and national stat geeks are catching on to the fact that the Raiders are 10-0 since the start of the 2015 season when Roberts catches a touchdown pass.
Given the win-loss finality of the nugget, Roberts doesn’t sell it short.
“It matters, but we’re just playing ball, man, making it happen,” Roberts said. “I don’t think we really think about that, being 10-0. We just go out and play.”
But here’s the deal on Roberts and his run — there hasn’t been a cheap one in the bunch.
When Roberts caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to put the Raiders up 23-13 against the Titans, a game they eventually won 26-16, it was the first time during the streak he had scored in a touchdown in a game decided by 10 points.
The touchdown was big, to be sure, but no bigger than the rest. Roberts’ 41-yard touchdown catch against Tampa Bay was his signature score, given that it came as a walk-off win in overtime.
But every other game was a taut struggle as well, with the Raiders possibly losing had it not been for a Roberts touchdown.
Roberts, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama, showed a knack for getting open in the middle of the field upon arrival. It’s a skill borne of a combination of film study, instinct and bravery.
At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Roberts is ideal for plays in the red zone, and indeed 10 of his 11 touchdown receptions in the 10-game streak have come from distances between 2 and 19 yards.
Roberts’ catch against the Titans Sunday was the only time he was targeted by Carr in 32 attempts. Carr threw to Amari Cooper 13 times and seven to Michael Crabtree.
Which bothers Roberts not in the least.
“Man, I was out there having fun, honestly,” Roberts said. “Obviously, you want to get more targets, but when it comes, just be ready.”
Roberts, 26, has had more fun this season simply because he’s physically capable of pushing the boundaries.
Last season, Roberts’ numbers dropped off considerably late in the season. It turns out Roberts played with a double hernia which weakened his core as the season went on. Revealed during training camp, coach Jack Del Rio said it came as a surprise. He never missed a practice nor was listed on an injury report for a groin injury.
“Yeah, I was hurt, playing, but everything is fixed now,” Roberts said. “You know you can do everything.”