Carr gives Gruden and Raiders something to shout about in Arizona
This is a little more like what Raider Nation expected from the Jon Gruden-Derek Carr era.
No, not the head coach and his quarterback yelling at each other on the sideline, but Carr leading the Oakland Raiders down the field for a game-winning touchdown on Sunday the way he did seven times in 2016.
It looked like the Raiders (2-8) were headed for their sixth consecutive defeat when they got the ball on their 20-yard-line with 1:53 left in the game in Glendale, Ariz., and the Arizona Cardinals holding a 21-20 lead.
Then Carr drove the Raiders down the field for the 15th fourth quarter comeback victory in his career, including his second this season and those seven when he helped the Raiders to a 12-4 record two years ago.
“I’m really proud of our team and it was fun to win again, especially with all the injuries we’ve had and the lack of practice time we had this week,” said Gruden, who singled out Carr for special praise.
“Give (Carr) credit for him doing what was needed. I thought he threw the ball well. He had a couple of big dropped balls on third down. But he brought us back to win in the fourth quarter.
“That’s the sign of a great quarterback. He made the big plays when we needed them and I’m happy for him. I’m proud of him.”
Carr completed a 32-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Marcell Ateman and hit Seth Roberts, his only veteran wide receiver remaining because of injuries, on a short pass that went for 20 yards to the Arizona 17-yard-line with the clock ticking down.
With no timeouts left, Carr took the snap and threw the ball into the ground to stop the clock with two seconds left.
Rookie Daniel Carlson, who kicked field goals of 49 and 21 yards earlier in the game, added a 35-yader with no time left and the Raiders escaped with a not-so-pretty 23-21 victory, but after the way the season has gone they will take it.
“I knew it was good and I started celebrating as soon as I hit it,” said Carlson, who has made six of seven field goal attempts for the Raiders and all six of his extra points after signing with Oakland since being cut by Minnesota when he missed three field goals against the Green Bay Packers earlier this season.
“It’s awesome. The team set me up for a short field goal and I was able to kick it. It was a big win for us and I was able to be part of it. It’s awesome.”
Carr completed 19 of 31 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns, a 23-yarder to tight end Jared Cook and a five-yarder to wide receiver Brandon LaFell, with no interceptions.
The Raiders pulled out the victory despite a week in which they were limited to indoor walk-through practices because of poor air-quality due to the Camp Fire in Northern California, injuries that have decimated them at wide receiver and numerous mistakes, including costly penalties and dropped passes.
“It’s really tragic what has happened to our wide receiver corps,” said Gruden, whose team was without injured veterans Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant, and lost LaFell to an Achilles injury in Arizona. “(LaFell’s injury) looks bad. We’ll see who’s available.”
But that gave Ateman, a seventh-round draft choice from Oklahoma State, a chance to play in an NFL game for the first time and he responded.
Carr hit him four times for 50 yards, including perhaps the biggest play of the game.
“He did a great job, especially since we didn’t have a chance to work on the two-minute drill this week,” said Carr, who said he didn’t hesitate going to the 6-4, 216-pound rookie. “He did a great job, especially on that deep ball, keeping his feet inbounds.
“It didn’t matter who was in the game at the end because we knew it was our last chance. The game was on the line and he did his job. … Everyone in the huddle had that look in their eyes. The guys who have been here for a few years knew we had a chance to do it because we’ve done it before.
“ … It was really cool in the locker room, especially after what we’ve been through lately.”
As for Gruden and Carr, apparently they are cool with each other, too.
Head coach and quarterback were seen smiling and back-slapping on the sideline later in the game, and Gruden greeted Carr with a hug when the offense came off the field, even before Carlson nailed the game-winning kick.
“That’s not the first time (they have yelled at each other),” Gruden told reporters after the game. “It’s a competitive game and we are competitive. And that’s not the first time he’s done that, it’s part of his game.
“I’m glad he’s our quarterback.”
And so after yelling at his quarterback, Gruden gave him a shout-out.