He returned the opening kick of the second half for a touchdown and made three long and difficult catches to set up field goals, including the tying one in the closing seconds of regulation and the overtime winner.
“I’ve been doing it since I’ve been little,” Ford said. “I did it in college especially. When the ball just starts coming to you, you just keep making plays, and I mean it just comes second nature to you. I just kept catching the ball every time.”
Getting a chance to start because of injuries to Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens, Ford made the most of his opportunity. Ford finished the day with six catches for 148 yards, surpassing his season total of four catches in just one game.
He added 158 yards on kick returns, including the 94-yarder that sparked a Raiders team that was unable to move the ball at all in the first half. He became just the second player to top 140 yards receiving and 150 yards on kick returns in the same game, joining Gary Ballman, who did it for Pittsburgh against Washington on Nov. 17, 1963.
“He had one of the best receiving outings that I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said fullback Marcel Reece, who joined Oakland in 2008. “I honestly can’t think of anyone else who’s had a better receiving day than he has. He had three huge plays, catches that you don’t see people make. It was an amazing job by him. I’m proud of him. We all knew that he could do it.”
Ford delivered the biggest receiving day in terms of yardage for a Raider since Jerry Porter also had 148 yards receiving in 2004 against Tennessee. The last Oakland player with a higher total was Hall of Famer Jerry Rice with 159 in 2003.
“I was really excited to go out there and just really just show what I really can do and just hopefully, we can just keep doing it every week,” Ford said.
As impressive as the yardage total was, it was the degree of difficulty on Ford’s catches that truly made his performance special. He made three highlight-reel catches, each unique in its own way.
The first came early in the fourth quarter when Jason Campbell was scrambling around the pocket to extend a play. He launched a deep ball while Ford was falling to the ground. But Ford managed to stay on his knees and reel in the 37-yard gain that set up Sebastian Janikowski’s first field goal to give Oakland a 17-13 lead.
“When I scrambled and just kind of threw it down for him, he made a great catch,” Campbell said. “You see guys making plays like that, you’re always going to try to give them the opportunity to make more and more. As a quarterback, it gives you a lot of confidence.”