OAKLAND –- The Raiders have a knack for scoring touchdowns late, especially with the game out of reach. Quarterback Derek Carr considered the experience valuable, even if the touchdowns were largely inconsequential.
Carr learned from those situations and others where he failed.
Because of those trials, Carr considered himself well prepared to score when it mattered most. On Thursday night, Carr’s much-maligned offense got the job done.
The Raiders secured a 24-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs with a 17-play, 80-yard drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. It ended with a perfect 9-yard strike to James Jones.
Carr rearranged protection on that game-deciding score, changing the play to something he knew would work.
When receiver James Jones heard the new call, he was in agreement.
“When Derek checked to the play I thought, ‘it is over for this dude (covering me),’” Jones said. “I had a double move going one-on-one with a safety, and I was praying that he had enough time to complete it. I knew I was going to kill (my man). He took the bait, and I secured that winning touchdown catch.”
It brought a triumphant end to a hard-fought victory, but the journey was as impressive as the final result. The Raiders converted three third downs and a fourth down while marching downfield.
Clearly falling out of favor, the Raiders went with Marcel Reece on that final drive over Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. Latavius Murray was concussed, and the Raiders stuck with a big back.
Reece paid big dividends. He accounted for 42 yards of total offense on that drive, churning out tough yards through the middle of the field.
“He’s a big back,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “Anytime I’ve ever used him that way or seen him used that way, he can push the pile a little bit. I felt like we were moving him pretty good a little bit there. He did a heck of a job. He really did. I don’t think the guy took a handoff this week in practice and he’s just always ready –- a real Oakland Raider.”
The players and coaches were extremely happy for Carr, who has guided the team through a tough stretch with relentless optimism and confidence.
“I just kept encouraging people, like I have every game,” Carr said. “I said, ‘Hey men, we’re going to win this thing. There’s no doubt in my mind, we’re going to go win it.’ I’ve said that a lot of times now. I like what Michael Jordan said, he missed a lot of game winners before he hit a good one. That quote is good for our team right now.
"We were always encouraging each other every game. We thought we were going to win it every time, but today, we were blessed that we were able to win.”