While the stat book will not show a new Carr as he threw for less than 200 yards and attempted just three deep balls all game, via Pro Football Focus’ Austin Gayle, there did seem to be some glimpses in the second half.
#Raiders QB Derek Carr attempted three deep passes (20+ air yards) against DAL in Week 15, completing one for 28 yards.— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) December 19, 2017
Man, what a way "let it rip."
The change seemed to occur when Carr scrambled for a 32 yard gain in the beginning of the third quarter. Since his leg injury, we haven’t seen him use his feet. Not to run, but at least to extend plays to then find a receiver down the field.
After breaking the large run down the sideline, Carr seemed to gain confidence in his legs. It was just the kind of thing his head coach wanted to see.
“If there’s some opportunities, take it, that’s who you are,” Del Rio said on Monday. “Be who you are. Just be yourself. . . that was an example of him being him, being aggressive and taking off and making some plays with his feet.”
Oakland’s trigger man was able to avoid more pressure and killed Dallas when they blitzed going 8/13 for 66 yards and one touchdown, per Gayle.
Carr did let a few throws get away that should have easily been intercepted, but we have seen that in the past. The difference between this season and the past is Carr would never show a decline in confidence and bounce back with a pinpoint strike when the game truly mattered.
At the end of Sunday’s game, on a fourth and ten, Carr extended the play by moving out to the left and heaving a bomb 50+ yards down the field. Michael Crabtree didn’t come up with the reception, but he drew a pass interference penalty on Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis.
The aforementioned play shows Carr’s trust in his feet to extend a play and his newly found confidence to then take a deep shot on a fourth down that could decide the season.
Although Carr’s last play of the game was one of the worst ways imaginable to lose a football game, it too provides hope much like the bomb to Crabtree.
On the last play, Carr rolled out to his right and sprinted for the pylon to make a spectacular play to save the Raiders’ season. Unfortunately, Carr got hit as he stretched for the goal line and fumbled the ball through the endzone essentially ending Oakland’s season.
On the other hand, Carr trying to make that play showed that the confidence that made the Raiders so special in the fourth quarter a year ago. We saw the old Carr resurface, and playing like this he’ll get it right many more times than he gets it wrong in crunch time.