Curry holds head high despite untimely drops

The memory of Sunday remains fresh for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Ronald Curry. The good news is that, unlike 2002, he has not seen the last of his opportunities.

Curry dropped two passes on the Oakland Raiders final drive in a 23-17 loss Sunday to the San Diego Chargers. The first of which, at worst, would have been a long gainer and possibly the game-tying touchdown with the pending extra point.

"I've been playing this game a long time," Curry said. "I take a lot of pride in making those plays. I was disappointed because I've been playing this game my whole life."

Curry has enjoyed a breakout season, his third in the NFL since the Raiders drafted him as a quarterback from North Carolina in 2002. He has also become a vital cog in the offense in a season when the Raiders parted ways with Tim Brown and Jerry Rice.

"Everybody just told me to keep my head up and that it happens to the best of them," Curry said. "I've played this game long enough. They told me if they had to do it all over again, it would come to you again. I've been making plays all year. If you see me at practice and games, I catch pretty much everything that comes my way. Hopefully, it's the last times it happens."

Curry has 35 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns entering Sunday night's road game against the Denver Broncos. There were a handful of teammates consoling Curry on the sidelines after that final drive, notably Jerry Porter.

"I tried to pick him up," Porter said. "I told him that we'd get one more shot. You can go from goat to hero in a matter of seconds. You never know."

If one rewound the clock to 2002, however, Curry would not be so fortunate. The Raiders drafted Curry as a quarterback in the seventh-round from North Carolina. Oakland, however, did not envision Curry as a quarterback but felt he was a good enough athlete to find a position for him. They tried him out for returning kickoffs.

Curry got his chance in a Week 8 contest against San Francisco but fumbled a kickoff return that led to a 49er score in a game Oakland ultimately lost 23-20 in overtime. Curry was then waived and placed on the practice squad.

He is not going to face such a fate this week, a sign of how Curry's status has been elevated.

"In the preseason, I had put the ball on the ground a couple of times," Curry recalled about 2002. "That was a big thing. You can't win in this league turning the ball over. If they bring me up to return kicks and I can't hold on to the ball then what's the point of having me up."

When the Raiders parted ways with Brown and later Rice, everyone expected Porter to be the lead-horse but few expected Curry to raise his level of play.

"You think his stats are a fluke," Porter said with sarcasm. "He's quicker than anybody thinks he is. He gets in and out of his breaks very good. We call plays to take advantage of that. That's why he has a lot of third down conversions. The guy is a natural athlete."

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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