Derek Carr, Raiders top Chiefs in most dramatic way possible

“That was unique, different and WOW.” – Tony Romo

The Oakland Raiders entered Thursday night desperate for a change in trajectory. Losers of four straight, the Raiders were laden with issues. The defense had been a liability. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree had been largely invisible. Derek Carr had lingering effects from a transverse process fracture that sidelined him in Week 5. The Raiders hadn’t scored more than 17 points in any game. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing acknowledged the offensive woes earlier this week, “We all own this together. There’s no one guy that is going to save it or break it or anything in between.”

The trajectory changed for Oakland Thursday in a dramatic 31-30 win for the ages against one of the league’s top teams who happens to be a bitter division rival.

Kansas City, reeling from its first loss of the season to the Steelers, got back to being an offensive juggernaut for most of this one. Alex Smith had two touchdown throws of over 60 yards on the way to a 342-yard, three-touchdown performance. But Smith and the Chiefs were stymied on a late fourth quarter drive that could have sealed the win. In other words, Smith was no Carr.

The Raiders had hung around all game – there were seven lead changes in total, several of which were due to Cooper’s 210-yard rebirth and tight end Jared Cook establishing himself as a force. But it was Carr’s moxie on the final drive of the game that was so electrifying and so memorable we’ll be talking about it for years to come.

Cook had two incredible catches on the drive, including one with :18 seconds remaining in the left approach to the endzone that looked to the naked eye like a touchdown. The Coliseum shook until it was overturned because Cook hadn’t crossed the plane. A mandatory 10 second runoff was enforced, which begs the question of whether or not the game would have been over had the refs got the call right in the first place. The eight seconds that remained turned into five minutes of penalties before Carr threw a perfect 2-yard strike to Crabtree in the end zone to secure the stunning comeback win and a place in Raiders lore. Carr finished with a monstrous 417 yards and three touchdowns. Afterwards Carr gushed to reporters about the recipient of his game-winner:

“If there’s one thing about Crab, it doesn’t matter what else happens the rest of the game. He always shows up.”

A few lingering thoughts:

– Oakland is one of the most impassioned, supportive fanbases in the NFL. They were a real 12th man tonight, and the last thing they deserve to be is abandoned. No way a Vegas crowd is half this impactful.

– Marshawn Lynch has to be smarter. He’s been around long enough to know you never touch an official, despite his good intentions to defend the honor of his cousin, Marcus Peters, in a skirmish. Lynch drums to his own beat and seems to have a longer leash than most players but here’s hoping Jack Del Rio has a meaty conversation with his wayward running back. Though if this picture is accurate and he stayed in the Coliseum as a fan, maybe he deserves.

– As long as Smith continues his pocket awareness, he and the Chiefs offense will be just fine. Peters has to cool it with the stupid penalties, though.

– Thursday Night Football is AWESOME!