Coach Jon Gruden has been after quarterback Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders to use his legs to help the Silver and Black for the last three years.
Carr had his fourth-best game running the ball in his seven-year career with the Raiders when he gained 41 yards on six carries in a 16-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns in the wind, sleet and snow on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
That included when he took a knee on the last play of the game to run out the clock, but still, everyone was not satisfied.
“They got mad at me because I was not sliding today, but I had to feel like I was helping out somehow,” Carr said told reporters after the game. “With how the weather was, anything over 10 yards, your guess was as good as mine as to where that ball was going to end up.
“It was ridiculous. It rained, it sleeted, it snowed and it was snowing sideways. Who knows what the wind was. (General Manager Mike) Mayock texted me this morning and said, ‘It does not matter what it takes, just find a way to win.’ To me, there were a couple of times where I could have sat in the pocket and tried to let something develop, but when it opened up, I just took off and did not have the privilege to slide a couple of times because I had to get the first down.”
Carr rushed for 58 yards on four carries against the Houston Texans as a rookie in 2014, gained 47 yards on four carries against the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, and went for 42 yards on four carries against the Green Bay Packers in 2015.
Most of his Carr’s carries against the Browns came when pass plays broke down, but there was even a designed run late in the game.
Gruden was pleased with what he saw from Carr, who also completed 15-of-24 passes for112 yards and a four-yard pass to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow for the only touchdown of the game with 14:53 left in the final quarter.
“That is what we have all been asking for,” Gruden said to reporters after the win. “We have all been saying, ‘Hey, extend a couple of plays. Why don’t you extend a couple of plays?’ Today, he extended a couple of plays. Those were, I think, the plays that were the secret sauce in the win today.”
Carr ran 18 yards on a designed play to set up the Raiders’ final score, even though he fumbled and teammate Devontae Booker recovered at the two-yard-line to set up the third field goal by Daniel Carlson that virtually wrapped up the victory with 4:24 left in the game.
“I don’t say, ‘Atta boy,’” Gruden said of Carr not sliding but fighting for extra yards. “I say, ‘Are you out of your mind? Don’t get carried away.’ He is a great competitor. I am just proud that he is finding all kinds of ways to move the team.”
Carr is enough of a competitor that if they want him to run the ball, he isn’t going to change his ways and simply go to the ground when defenders get close.
Expect more of the same this Sunday when the Raiders play the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium at Hollywood Park.
“I had to try, just like last week, and I am just thankful those plays worked out,” said the 6-3, 210-pound Carr, who has proven in his Raiders career that he can take a hit while rushing for 589 yards and three touchdowns. “I feel like as a football fan, whenever the quarterback tries does that kind of stuff, it pumps the whole sideline up. It pumps the whole team up when the quarterback lowers his shoulder, even if he is being an idiot. It pumps the team-up.
“I have tried to jump over people and I have tried to run over people, and I might not be the best at it, but I am going to try it. If now, if they felt like those moments right there ignite our sideline so if I am able to continue doing that, I might be a little more sore than usual, but whatever it takes to win is all I care about.”
It has to help the Raiders to know their Carr will be running when they need it.
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