Oakland Raiders: What Was Learned from Last Night’s Win

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November 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) celebrates after the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

3. Derek Carr Can be Clutch

Okay, so I didn’t learn that last night. I’m a lifelong Fresno State fan and I saw Derek Carr be clutch over and over in college. But so far, Derek Carr has not been clutch as a professional, and of course hasn’t had very many chances to do so. But last night, Carr threw the first of what we in the Nation hope to be many game-winning touchdown passes with 1:23 left in the 4th quarter after a clutch clock-killing drive.

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  • Of course, Carr did not have an excellent game last night, overall. He completed 51.4% of his passes for 174 yards and the score, finishing with a passer rating of 75.2. The ball was wet, his receivers slipped, and more than once he threw a ball low enough for a linebacker underneath to get a hand on it. Carr often got sloppy with his footwork, and he missed some passes that he shouldn’t have missed. But it wasn’t all bad. Carr didn’t throw an interception for the second consecutive week after throwing nine picks in the previous eight games.He faced a stiff pass rush from a defensive unit that included NFL sack leader Justin Houston and two-time All-Pro Tamba Hali and only took one sack. Carr was 7 for 13 passing on 3rd down, six of which went for first down yardage.  He also twice put up passes to Andre Holmes in key situations that drew interference flags – one that was put away because Holmes had stepped out of bounds, another that gave the Raiders a first down at the Chiefs 20 on the final drive. On that epic final drive, he twice called his own number on sneak plays to pick up crucial first-down yardage, including once on 4th down. He was 4-7 on that drive, for 36 yards. And of course he threw the winning touchdown pass, waiting patiently in the pocket for Jones to make a double move and break inside before delivering a perfect strike.

    The Raider offense got a big boost from the running of Latavius Murray in the first half, and Marcel Reece in the 4th quarter, which made things easier on Carr. The running game allowed the Raiders to do a lot better on 3rd down, converting half their attempts and dramatically reducing the number of three-and-out drives (only two in the game). Carr didn’t have to do as much: the running game minus Carr’s two sneaks picked up six first downs and scored twice and put the Raider offense ahead of the chains on multiple occasions.

    That said, Carr still did quite a bit: eleven of the team’s eighteen first downs came from Carr either passing or rushing. He threw the ball 35 times and, as the Chiefs attempted a final drive after his touchdown pass, he led the entire stadium in cheering for the defense, adding to a momentum and energy that allowed the defense to get a stop against a hot Alex Smith, who had thrown two touchdown passes in the second half.  When it was all over, he took a knee, did his obligatory game-winning quarterback interview, and led the team in a prayer circle. During his interview, the devout Carr thanked God and Jesus about eighty times, and then said something that struck me as one of the more poignant things I’ve ever heard a quarterback say after a win: “I can’t wait to see my teammates smile.” Derek Carr truly took pleasure in the way that win would feel for the men he played the game with, and that is a hallmark of good leadership. Carr can definitely lead this team.