Raiders find big-time receiving threat in Jared Cook but little else in loss to Rams

OAKLAND, Calif. -- What’s that about success and victory being the ultimate deodorant?

Well, not even Jared Cook’s record performance in the Oakland Raiders’ 33-13 stinker of a season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Rams could cover up the smell of a skunk getting loose in the Oakland Coliseum late Monday night and spraying the surroundings.

The smell was as bad as Cook was good.

Consider: Cook’s 180 receiving yards, on nine catches, set a franchise record for tight ends, eclipsing the 173 yards Todd Christensen had against the Chargers on Nov. 20, 1986. It was also a career high for Cook.

“We knew going into the game they were going to play a lot of man [coverage],” Cook said, “so we knew we had matchups all across the board.”

Because Rams cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib were focused on taking receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson out of the game (the two wideouts had just four combined catches), the middle of the field opened up for Cook.

“We called their numbers; we tried,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of throwing to the receivers. “Obviously, Jared came up huge tonight and they disguised their coverages. It allowed us to get the ball to our tight ends and backs. Unfortunately, we were not able to get more out of it.”

In Cook, though, they got a lot.

On the opening touchdown drive, it was his 45-yard catch and run that moved the Raiders to the Rams’ 20-yard line. It was his longest reception since Week 11 of the 2016 season.

In fact, he had 113 receiving yards in the first half, and he was the target in the end zone when Derek Carr underthrew him on a fade that was picked off in the second quarter.

And midway through the fourth quarter, when the Raiders were still in striking distance, Cook took a pass over the middle and rumbled 32 yards, the last 10 or so with five Rams players trying to take him to the ground.

Mark Bavarro carrying half the 49ers defense for a 31-yard pickup down the midle of the field on Monday Night Football in 1986, anyone?

Those New York Giants went on to win Super Bowl XXI, though. These Raiders? They look to be in full rebuild mode. At least, after one game.

“We are a better football team than what was put out there on the field,” Cook said after authoring his seventh career 100-yard receiving game, his third in two seasons with Oakland.

“This one game does not define us. We need to make the corrections where we need to and always push to get better. We can never be satisfied and always push to be better.”

Can you smell what Cook is cooking?