With less than six minutes to go and his team trailing the New Orleans Saints 34-27, Derek Carr took the field for Oakland’s final drive and delivered a forceful message to his teammates.
“I just looked at the guys and said, ‘It’s time to go,’” Carr said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “We have such a good group of guys and it’s such a good huddle that everybody in that huddle has the same look that I have in their eyes. Everyone has that same mentality of, ‘Guys, there’s no other option. We need to go put the ball in the end zone to win this football game – or at least give ourselves a chance to win it.’ Before that, we were up and down the sidelines saying it doesn’t matter what New Orleans does; we need to get the ball back and go score. Thankfully we were able to do that, but everybody in that huddle has the same look I did.”
Eleven plays and 75 yards later, Carr found Seth Roberts for a 10-yard touchdown reception that pulled Oakland within 34-33. Everybody, surely, expected the Raiders to go for the extra point, tie the game and go to overtime.
Jack Del Rio instructed Carr to go for two. In fact, he instructed Carr to go for two even before Oakland scored the touchdown.
“He came up to me and he looked at me . . . and he said, ‘Hey, when we score this touchdown, we’re going for two,’” Carr recalled. “I said, ‘Yes, sir. No problem.’ We practiced those situations plenty of times before in training camp. He makes it tough on me in camp and we’ve been able as an offense to convert some of those. So we knew that we were capable; we just had to go do it.”
Carr lofted a beautiful pass to Michael Crabtree, who went up and came down with the ball in-bounds to give Oakland a 35-34 win.
“With Crab, he’s such a good player, I just wanted to give him a chance,” Carr said. “My thought was, ‘Okay, he’s one-on-one, take a deep breath, have good footwork and don’t throw it out of bounds.’ That’s all I was thinking: Give him a chance because he’s so good. I just wanted to make sure I gave him a chance to make a play.”
Unfortunately, Crabtree was penalized for a celebration that referees deemed excessive. That allowed the Saints to attempt a 61-yard field goal that would have won the game. Will Lutz’s 61-yard attempt, however, sailed wide left, and the Raiders got the win.
Carr was okay with that.
“I don’t ever root for anybody to do bad; I just rooted for our team to do a little bit better,” Carr said, laughing. “For him to miss it, it was just relief. It really was. That’s the best (way to describe it). It was relief and pure joy.”
The Raiders trailed 24-10 late in the third quarter but erupted for 22 points in the fourth. Jalen Richard, a rookie out of Southern Miss, had one of the best runs of the day Sunday, scampering 75 yards for a game-tying touchdown midway through the quarter.
“I’ve never been around a guy that hits the hole so hard,” Carr said. “As soon as I turn around, he’s already in full speed in the backfield. It’s crazy to me that he can make his reads and do it all with that kind of speed. Usually a guy will hit 90 to 95 percent of their speed just to get a gauge on the hole and things like that. But this guy, he hits it so had. When I handed that ball off and he hit it, you just get excited. Big things can happen if everything is blocked up well. He showed the after-burners on that one.”
Richard finished with a game-high 84 rushing yards on just three carries.
Oakland (1-0) hosts Atlanta (0-1) this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.