Saturday was an opportunity for Derek Carr to have a career-defining game.
Carr, perhaps the most polarizing player in franchise history, didn’t take advantage of that chance. While he wasn’t awful and wasn’t the lone reason why the Las Vegas Raiders’ season ended in a 26-19 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Wild Card round, he didn’t do enough to help his team win.
The Raiders’ incredible season ended with a Carr interception near the goal line on fourth down in the final seconds of the game.
FINAL: Bengals 26, Raiders 19— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 16, 2022
On 4th & goal from the CIN 9, Derek Carr is intercepted by #57 Germaine Pratt, securing the #Bengals first postseason victory since 1990.#LVvsCIN | #RuleTheJungle pic.twitter.com/UI68MT0o1V
No there no doubt the final play of the game was a bad one. Carr forced the ball to receiver Zay Jones even though three defenders were closing in on him. The entire play was poorly executed, though. The Raiders’ two most dangerous receiving weapons, tight end Darren Waller and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow were after thoughts in the play call.
.@raiders v @bengals final 45 seconds. Curious what other QB’s would do after they get the 1st down inside the 9?? Is clocking it the right play? Hate wasting a down with plenty of time remaining. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/ZInh9qP7Yk— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) January 16, 2022
But the Raiders’ passing-game failures were deeper than one play on Saturday. In the first playoff game of his career, Carr’s penchant for turnovers bit him. In addition to the late pick, Carr lost a fumble in the first quarter that resulted in three points for Cincinnati.
The game-sealing INT was #Raiders QB Derek Carr's 9th turnover in the 4th quarter/OT this season including playoffs. That's the most by any player in the NFL. Entering the day, Carr was tied with Trevor Lawrence for the most in the league, per @ESPNStatsInfo— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) January 16, 2022
Of course, turnovers have been a career-long issue for Carr. He leads the NFL in fumbles since he entered the NFL in 2014. In the Raiders’ final 11 games this season, Carr had 16 turnovers and accounted for just 12 touchdowns.
In addition to the turnover issues, Carr and the Raiders’ offense continued to sag in the red zone against the Bengals. They were just 1-for-5 inside the red zone Saturday, continuing a season-long problem. Kicker Daniel Carlson had four field goals and he was second in the NFL with 43 field-goal attempts in the regular season. According to ESPN, Carr’s red-zone woes were nearly historic Saturday.
#Raiders QB Derek Carr went 4-17 in the red zone on Saturday. That's the 2nd-most red zone incompletions in a game over the last 20 seasons, regular season or playoffs...Stafford (15 in Week 10 of 2011), Rodgers (11 in Week 4 of 2019)...per @ESPNStatsInfo— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) January 16, 2022
Derek Carr's red zone passer rating rank by season for #Raiders:— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) January 16, 2022
2014: 10th of 33 qualifiers
2015: 30th of 35
2016: 18th of 30
2017: 23rd of 32
2018: 21st of 33
2019: 15th of 32
2020: 18th of 35
2021: 23rd of 31 https://t.co/38QdEJG79b
Of course, all of these issues are part of a big picture and cannot all be pinned on Carr. The receivers and the coaching also played a part in in the uneven play, but there’s no doubt Carr played a role in Las Vegas’ ultimate demise.