Oakland Raiders Battle Back to Beat Panthers

If ever there was a roller-coaster of a game, it was on Sunday. The Oakland Raiders at 8-2 were entering the 12th week of their season with a tremendous opportunity to do something they haven’t done since 2002: Have an above .500 season.

So, when the Raiders went up 24-7, Raiders fans were stopping to smell the roses. Then, disaster. Derek Carr took a snap from center Rodney Hudson in the third quarter and instantly grimaced in pain.

Raiders fans’ hearts sunk to the depths of their stomach as they saw Carr run directly to the sideline, then later was shown running down the tunnel to the locker room.

Devastating things like this aren’t new to Raiders fans. I mean, it was just four years ago that the Raiders had a good-looking 4-2 record led by quarterback Jason Campbell before he broke his collarbone and the Raiders ended up 8-8 to sit outside the playoffs again.

And going back further, the Raiders in 2004 lost their starting quarterback in Rich Gannon when his career was ended by a hit from Derrick Brooks. In the middle of those two injuries sits the worst draft pick of probably all-time, but let’s not spend time reminiscing on that.

But, after a mediocre drive, which included two rushes, a penalty and Matt McGloin barely getting a pass off before taking a hit, Carr, who had dislocated his pinky finger, returned to the roar of Oakland fans.

With the Raiders now up just 24-19, Carr threw an interception that set up the Panthers to take the lead. And, they did. 25-24 the Panthers now had the advantage after putting up 18 straight points (all in the third quarter).

When the Panthers scored another touchdown in the fourth quarter to take a 32-24 lead, the wind was knocked out of Raiders fans everywhere. But, Carr threw on his Superman cape and did what he does best.

He put together a meticulous drive that ended with a beautiful catch from Clive Walford in the end zone to bring the Raiders within two. Then, Oakland went for the two-point conversion and a laser from Carr hit Seth Roberts in the chest to tie the game.

The Raiders got the ball back with five minutes left and Sebastian Janikowski kicked a field goal with less than two minutes remaining to put the Raiders up three.

The Panthers last ditch effort to either tie or win fell short on fourth down when Khalil Mack strip-sacked Cam Newton to seal the victory for the Raiders. Not only did the win give the Raiders a 9-2 record but it preserved their first-place spot in the AFC West standings after the Chiefs beat the Broncos on Sunday night.

Carr finished the game with over 300 yards (315) for the fourth time this season and surpassed 3,000 yards on the year. With four games left to play, he’s on pace to throw for about 4,150 yards. He hasn’t thrown for over 4,000 yards yet in his three-year career.

Player of the Game:

Even with Carr’s excellent game, this award goes to Mack. Mack filled up the stat sheet about as well as any defender can do. He recorded six tackles, a sack, an interception, a touchdown, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also may have also been seen shaking hands and kissing babies on the sidelines, but that may have just been in my imagination.

Room to Grow:

With David Amerson injured, the Raiders secondary was once-again torched. Newton picked them apart for not only short gains but long ones as he hit Ted Ginn Jr. on an 88-yard touchdown pass and also hit Kelvin Benjamin on a 44-yard gain. The Raiders secondary has been in question all year and they haven’t exactly proved they can clamp down. Sean Smith hasn’t been worth the money and D.J. Hayden and TJ Carrie also haven’t done much to prove they deserve playing time. Hopefully, in the next few weeks the backs can get it together.