Derek Carr on Oakland Raiders: 7-9 not going to cut it

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The main theme for the Raiders in this game: finish. They finished blocks. They finished runs. Then, they finished the game. It wasn’t an easy task, either. Oakland was playing on the road in New Orleans, a city that is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the franchise, and the Raiders’ O-line only had one false start (Matt McCants) in an extremely loud dome despite being in the silent count for the entire game. The offensive line allowed six hurries, one quarterback hit and zero sacks Derek Carr’s 40 dropbacks.

People call New Orleans the Big Easy, but the Raiders’ injury adversity up front flew in the face of that nickname. Starting right tackle Menelik Watson exited the game with a groin injury in the second quarter. McCants, who saw action in two games in 2015 and logged just three starts in the previous three NFL seasons, came in to replace Watson. In the third quarter, McCants went down with a knee injury, and the Raiders had to shuffle the offensive line around because Austin Howard, normally the backup tackle, was inactive due to an ankle injury from the preseason. Penn shifted over and played his first NFL snaps at right tackle, Osemele moved from left guard to left tackle and cheap jerseys and Jon Feliciano played at left guard. The Raiders, who had seven active linemen for Sunday’s contest, were one injury away from OL coach Mike Tice having to strap on a helmet.

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With Carr (No. 36 pick, 2014) leading the offense and (No. 5 pick, 2014) anchoring the defense, Oakland has become a buzzy playoff pick this season. For the first time more than a decade, there are legitimate — gulp — expectations for the Silver and Black.jersey

“On paper it looks great. We don’t want to be paper champs,” Carr told CSN Bay Area at the start of Oakland’s offseason workout program. “We’ve got some good guys, but none of that matters unless we put the work in. Everything can look good in theory and in practice it all falls apart. As a leader of this team, I’m going to concentrate on pushing to get better every day.”

Last year’s jump made sense. Buttressed by a pair of strong draft classes, Oakland sent five players to the Pro Bowl in 2015. was one of them, and the third-year quarterback remains the key to the Raiders’ hopes of finally regaining relevance in the AFC.

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Given the ease with which Oakland dispatched the league’s most dominant defense of the past season-and-a-half, you’d have thought there would have been nothing but hugs and high-fives on the sideline. Penn’s surly spit fit, which took place with 7:09 remaining and the Raiders holding a 23-13 lead, showed that winners sometimes must confront the ire that stems from creative differences.

This was the situation: The Raiders had just forced the game’s first turnover, with linebacker Bruce Irvin dislodging the football from Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian and defensive end Khalil Mack recovering at the Broncos’ 39-yard-line. On Oakland’s next play, Derek Carr dropped back and threw a short pass toward fullback Jamize Olawale, who was running a wheel route to the right. The pass missed its target, however, and Denver safety T.J. Ward made an apparent diving interception at the 30, giving his team new life.

Carr has started to weave quite a little tale for himself in 2016. Paired with Del Rio, the gunslinger has brought the Raiders back from the dead (Halloween pun unintended) on multiple occasions. It’s not by chance Oakland is undefeated on the road; it’s directly a product of the Carr/Del Rio pairing, their growth and above all, their guts.

Carr said recently that he and his coach are so in sync, he often knows when will opt to go for it on fourth down before he even gives the nod. So in the midst of a historically disastrous contest, it had to be Carr who saved us from the brink of a two-tie Sunday, and it had to come on fourth down in the final two minutes of the game.

Carr stood alone in the shotgun with a five-receiver set, dropped in the pocket, set and fired a bullet to a crossing Seth Roberts at the 30, who broke two tackles and housed it for six and a Raiders win. It capped a record-breaking day for Carr, who threw for a franchise-best total of 513 yards and four touchdowns on 40-of-59 passing. No matter that Tampa Bay wasted away multiple chances to secure the win. This one is all about the road warriors: the road Raiders.