One thing we know about the NFL is the first drive is quite often scripted. For that reason, you often see success on that first drive as the offense tends to know what to do steps ahead and the defense is not prepared for it. It’s once the team gets off the script that they are truly tested. The Raiders failed that test Monday night.
To be fair, through two quarters, the game was quite competitive, which is saying a lot against a very good Rams team. Unfortunately there are four quarters. Come the third quarter, the tables turned.
We pick up the action in the second half, where the Raiders came in with a 13-10 lead. A 6-minute drive to start the second half eliminated that lead. The Raiders offense would move a total of 17 yards in the third and as the quarter came to a close, the Rams would put the ball in the end zone to take a 20-13 lead.
That’s when the wheels really came off.
A drive that picked up five yards ended with Carr seeming to panic despite a clean pocket and throw the ball away inexplicably.
That weird moment was nothing compared to the way his next series ended.
With the Rams having added another field goal to take go up two scores at 23-13, Carr would have to get to work. And that work would have to include putting the ball in the end zone; something the Raiders hadn’t done since that first drive.
It was big pass plays to Jared Cook in the first half that kept the Raiders in the game, but for some reason they went away from it in the second half. Perhaps it was because the last time Carr had gone for Cook, he was covered and Carr underthrew it and was intercepted in the end zone.
He finally went back to Cook and picked up 32 yards. The hopeful feeling that completion brought lasted only an instant, because Carr went no-huddle, and before we could even credit the big play, Carr made a pass that is impossible to properly describe and even harder to explain. So, I’ll let Carr try.
“So, I went to the right side, they buzzed underneath that route, so I came back, bad decision, went to throw it away, kinda maybe give the bench route a chance, but I saw the dude underneath it so I tried to pull it back with my hand and obviously that’s why it looks so terrible it just floated in there and landed in the guy’s lap,” Carr said.
“It’s just one of those that you sit there and [say] that is one of the dumbest plays that you could ever have. But it is what it is, I knew what I should’ve done as soon as that play was over, but it just sucks that it happened.”
Linebacker Cory Littleton was the beneficiary of the balloon toss. Supposedly the pass was to go to Jordy Nelson, though from the sounds of it, the pass was not supposed to be thrown at all, which may be stating the obvious.
The Rams took over and again led a long scoring drive. The field goal would mean the Raiders would need to score two touchdowns in just over three minutes, not just a touchdown and a field goal. But with the way they were looking, any touchdowns at all was asking too much.
On the fourth play of the following series, Carr would throw a touchdown… to Rams cornerback Marcus Peters. Again, Carr was going for Jared Cook. Peters jumped it and was gone for the pick six. He put the exclamation point on it by doing the TD celebration of his Oakland ‘cousin’ Marshawn Lynch.
Oh my god Marcus Peters did the Marshawn Lynch crotch grab in the Raiders house on this touchdown!!! pic.twitter.com/laRYs8ZlMz— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 11, 2018
“Oh! I did the Beast Mode. That’s what I did,” said Peters after the game.
That was the third interception of the day for Carr. Only the second time in his career he’s had three interceptions in a game. The other time was against the Chiefs in 2015 in Oakland and one of them was to Marcus Peters.
Peters’s Beast Mode crotch grab is a lasting image of how this game played out. As the Rams made corrections in the second half and settled in, the Raiders did not. Derek Carr got rattled for no discernible reason, and once the offense stalled, the defense got worn down. Then the pass rush deficient defense got picked apart by Jared Goff and run through by Todd Gurley (20 carries for 108 yards).
That’s how a 13-10 lead becomes a 33-13 deficit. And it’s how you lose sleep trying to figure out how it all went so wrong.
“I’m not gonna sleep good,” said Carr.
“When we lose and you make a couple bad decisions, you never sleep good.”