Mack Hollins wasn’t about to forget his roots, despite two breakout games as a wide receiver for the Raiders.
He showed once again Sunday the special teams prowess that has helped him carve out a role in the NFL over the last six seasons.
Early in the fourth quarter, Hollins was able to jump into the end zone and bat an A.J. Cole punt back into the field of play to force the Broncos to start a drive from their 1-yard line. The Raiders forced a three-and-out and eventually converted the possession into a field goal to extend their lead to nine points before going on to a 32-23 victory at Allegiant Stadium.
“He’s the Davante Adams of special teams,” Cole said of Hollins, elevating his fellow special teams captain to superstar status. “I don’t care how well he plays on offense, he’s too valuable not to play. We have to keep him out there with us.”
Adams enjoyed the comparison.
“He’s a superstar all-around to me,” Adams said. “I love that he embraces the work the way he does, because I’ve seen a lot of players have that success on offense or defense and feel like they’re above special teams. So to see a guy like that get mad during the week when he’s not able to cover a kick full-speed, it says a lot about him and why he’s able to translate that to offense as well. You need a Mack on your team, and I’m glad he’s on ours.”
Hollins, who did not speak to reporters in the locker room, was coming off two of the best offensive games of his career. The 29-year-old, who has never had more than 16 catches in a season, hauled in 13 receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown over the previous two weeks.
While he was held to just three catches for 33 yards Sunday, Hollins still found ways to contribute to the win and made plays that fired up his teammates.
“It was hopefully a momentum swing in the game,” Cole said. “Anytime you have a chance to pin someone back there, the chances of them scoring go way down. So the confidence I think we have in each other shows up. We care a lot. We’re playing with passion and emotion. It’s not fun being 0-3, so I think you see a lot of the emotion come out when we make good plays because it’s way more fun winning than losing.”
After getting torched by the Titans in the first half last week, the Raiders pitched a shutout over the final 30 minutes.
They were able to regroup in the locker room again Sunday. On the first four drives of the second half, Denver gained just eight net yards and one first down while punting all four possessions.
“I think you have to give a lot of credit to (defensive coordinator) Pat Graham,” defensive end Maxx Crosby said. “Last week, we held them to zero in the second half. Besides the one drive, I felt like we were dominant today. Pat does such a good job of adjusting. We just have to keep improving. As a unit, we just have to keep complementing each other and keep going. I feel like we’re definitely going in the right direction.”
There were a noticeable amount of Broncos fans inside Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, and they made their presence felt.
At times, it was even difficult to discern which team was at home.
Crosby said it was a point of discussion with his teammates.
“There was a lot of orange,” he said. “I didn’t like that. It gave me a little extra motivation. I know the guys got fired up about it. You have to give them credit because they have great fans as well. But it’s always fun playing Denver. I love it.”
The Raiders kicked a field goal on their opening drive and have now scored on their first possession in all four games this season. Tennessee is the only other team in the league to do so after the Bills had their streak end Sunday.