Then on the key drive in the closing seconds of regulation, Campbell threw a ball deep over the middle that seemed to be headed right to Brandon Flowers for an interception. Ford tried to break up the pass and did even better, ripping the ball away for 29-yard gain that set up Janikowski’s tying kick.
“He made big plays all night,” teammate Louis Murphy said. “Can’t say which play was bigger, but he made them all.”
The final one came in overtime on the first play after Oakland forced an opening drive punt by Kansas City. Ford went deep against Flowers again and Campbell threw a ball that initially looked like it would be too far. But Ford showed off his sprinter speed and tracked it down for a diving 47-yard catch that set up the winning kick.
“He’s a track guy, he can run fast, and he can accelerate, and I think that’s something our team has,” Campbell said. “We probably have the youngest receiving corps in the league but these guys got so much speed that their acceleration is what helps them out so much.”
That’s what the Raiders were expecting from Heyward-Bey, when they selected him seventh based on his breakaway speed ahead of more productive college receivers like Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.
While Heyward-Bey has struggled holding onto the ball and using his speed to get separation, Ford is showing signs of being that feared deep threat that Oakland counts on for its vertical passing game.
Ford ran the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds _ the fastest at this year’s combine _ but lasted until the fourth round because of questions about his 5-foot-10 size and his hands.
“His opportunities were probably not as many as the other receivers,” Cable said. “In terms of getting him to this level and being able to handle the game at this level and being able to release at this level and go get the football at this level and all those things, I think he’s what we thought he was. The finishing speed, no question, I mean you all saw that on the kickoff return, it was pretty special.”