Amari Cooper entered Thursday night's tilt versus the Kansas City Chiefs in struggle mode. The Oakland Raiders' receiver led the NFL in drops, had 84 total yards in the previous five games (including three contests in single digits), and owned the fourth-lowest reception rate in the NFL (46.2).
Then Thursday happened.
The two-time Pro Bowler busted out of his slump in a big spot.
Cooper finished the 31-30 win with 210 receiving yards on 11 receptions and 19 targets with two touchdowns on the night. The most noticeable difference was the deep shots re-incorporated into the Raiders offense. Cooper and Derek Carr connected on touchdown strikes of 38 yards and 45 yards, and added catches of 39 yards and 21 yards -- and also had a 47-yard pass interference call that led to a third-quarter touchdown.
"We have a lot of playmakers at the receiver position," Cooper said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "And we went into this week saying that we wanted to take more shots, more explosive plays.
"It was huge for me, it was huge for the team. Anytime that anyone can create some explosive plays, get first downs, we're going to have more plays on offense. And eventually we'll keep scoring."
Cooper put on a clinic on how to get open versus press coverage, earning 2.94 yards of separation on his targets.
After setting career highs in targets and receiving yards, Cooper said he didn't change anything about his approach on Thursday night.
"Nothing, man," he said. "I just went out there like I do every game. I expect to have a big game every game, and I'm happy tonight it turned out that way."
Thursday's win over the division rival Chiefs turned the fortunes of the Raiders season. It was also a reminder that when talented players like Cooper struggle for stretches, don't throw dirt on their season. It's only a matter of time before the slump is busted.