The Oakland Raiders got their first victory of the 2012 season in thrilling fashion Sunday afternoon, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-31 on a field goal by Sebastian Janikowski as time expired.
As badly as the Raiders needed a victory to right the ship before the season got away from them, the win came at a fairly steep price, as Oakland lost wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey indefinitely as the fourth quarter began.
The fourth-year pro, who has nine receptions for 98 yards this season and had a touchdown catch in Sunday's win, was knocked unconscious by a vicious hit from Steelers safety Ryan Mundy.
After the game, Oakland head coach Dennis Allen rather tersely told Steve Corkran of The San Jose Mercury-News that Heyward-Bey will be hospitalized overnight with a concussion, while Mundy defended the hit as a clean one.
"I didn't go in there trying to hit him with my helmet," Mundy said. "Things like that happen so fast. He may have come down to the level of my helmet. I have to see the replay, I don't know. I just said a prayer for him," Mundy said. "I hope he was OK."
No penalty was called on the play, but you can bet the rent that there will be a letter from New York in Mundy's locker in Pittsburgh.
Corkran updated Heyward-Bey's status later in the evening, and while it may be a while before we see him on a football field again his injuries do not appear to be career-threatening.
Raiders say WR Darrius Heyward-Bey is in in stable condition and that he will be kept overnight at a local hospital. Suffered concussion.— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) September 24, 2012
With Heyward-Bey now sidelined indefinitely, an Oakland wide receiver corps that was finally starting to get healthy now loses the player who led the team with 975 receiving yards in 2011. Moreover, while calling Heyward-Bey anything other than a disappointment as a pro would be kind, the former Maryland star has at least shown some improvement over the past season or so.
With that said though, since Carson Palmer arrived in the Bay Area, Heyward-Bey had seemingly slipped behind Denarius Moore on the wideout totem pole in Oakland, and with Moore back on the field and again leading the team in catches in Week 3, Heyward-Bey's injury is far from crippling.
From a fantasy football perspective, the injury is even less significant. Frankly Darrius Heyward-Bey was a marginally rosterable wide receiver when he was healthy and Denarius Moore was on the shelf. Now that the opposite is true, fantasy owners in all but the deepest of leagues should feel free to replace Heyward-Bey on their rosters with a wide receiver off the waiver wire.