With the Las Vegas Raiders releasing Derek Carr on Tuesday, an era that spawned nearly a decade is over. The Raiders’ franchise passing leader is now a free agent for the first time in his career and will trade in the silver and black for a new pair of colors next season.
While some will point to Carr’s record to take away from his tenure as a Raider, he brought the fanbase plenty of proud moments over the last nine years. So, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and look at some of the best memories from the franchise-passing leader’s tenure with the Silver and Black.
5) 2014 Seahawks Preseason Game
A preseason game as a “best moment”, what?! At first, yes, this seems ridiculous but when factoring in the context of the situation, it was actually a pretty monumental moment in Carr’s career.
The Raiders had traded for Matt Schaub before spending a second-round pick on Carr that offseason and the assumption was that Schaub will start while the rookie gets adjusted to the NFL and eventually takes over the reins in a year or two. However, an elbow injury kept the veteran sidelined for the team’s final preseason game and opened the door for the second-round pick to begin his nine-year tenure as the Raiders’ starting quarterback.
Carr was nearly perfect against Seattle, completing 11 of 13 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions while the Seahawks played nine of their 11 defensive starters from a unit that was ranked No. 1 in the league the year before. He was named the team’s starter a few days later, a position he held up until the end of this season.
Schaub was also who the Houston Texans brought in to replace Derek’s brother, David, so there was some family retribution on the line as well.
4) 2017 Thursday Night Thriller
This was arguably Carr’s best performance on primetime during his tenure.
Coming into Thursday Night Football against the Kansas Chiefs in 2017, the Raiders were sitting at 2-4 and had lost four games in a row. They desperately needed a win against the 5-1 Chiefs, who they hadn’t beaten in their last five matchups.
The game looked like a pure mismatch heading into it but the Raiders came out of the gate swinging as Carr connected with Amari Cooper on a flea flicker for a 38-yard touchdown on the team’s opening drive of the game. Later in the first quarter, those two found each other again for a 45-yard score and Cooper finished with 11 catches for 210 yards and the two touchdowns.
It ended up being a back-and-forth matchup with a crazy ending that included a replay review taking a game-tying touchdown off the board, then several penalties and untimed downs that led to Carr tossing the game-tying score to Michael Crabtree and the corresponding PAT to give the Raiders the 31-30 victory.
Carr ended up throwing for 417 yards — fourth-most in a single game of his career — and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
3) The 2021 Playoff Push
Perhaps in the NFL’s entire history, no team and quarterback have had to overcome more obstacles to make the playoffs than the Raiders and Carr did in 2021.
They started the year off going 3-0 for the first time since the franchise’s last Super Bowl appearance in the 2002 season but lost to the Los Angeles Chargers and Chicago Bears in Weeks 4 and 5. Sandwiched in between those two losses was the first leak in Jon Gruden’s email scandal that eventually led to his resignation.
In steps Rich Bisaccia as the interim head coach who gets the team and its quarterback back on track as the Raiders were sitting pretty at 5-2 heading into the bye week. After the off-week passes without a hiccup, the Henry Ruggs tragedy occurs.
Ruggs was the team’s leading receiver at the time, forcing Carr and the offense to adapt which didn’t go over smoothly as they struggled to score points and lost five out of the next six games. However, the one win was an impressive 373-yard outing from Carr against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
Heading into the final four weeks of the season, the Raiders had one simple solution to make the playoffs; win out. The odds were against them but the team managed to persevere by winning the remaining games on the schedule, including a Week 18 overtime victory that kept also knocked the Chargers out of the postseason.
Statistically, Carr had the most passing yards of his career (4,804) by a little more than 700 yards, but what makes that year so special for him is the leadership he showed to help guide the Raiders through adversity. That was also the only campaign where he got to play in a playoff game for the organization.
2) Record-Setting OT vs. Bucs
Carr really became known for his fourth-quarter comebacks in 2016, and one of the most thrilling from that year saw him break the franchise record for passing yards in a single game by nearly 90 yards. It was a record that had stood for 52 years until this muggy day in Tampa Bay.
In typical Silver and Black fashion, the team dug itself into a hole by collecting 23 penalties for 200 yards, an NFL record and the third-most in league history, respectively. Personal story, I almost broke a knuckle after punching a hardwood floor on the 20th flag.
Anyways, that forced the Raiders to play from behind the entire first half and throw the ball 59 times, while Carr completed 40 for four touchdowns, no picks and 513 yards in a 30-24 overtime victory. Beyond the record-breaking yardage, he also found four different receivers in the end zone, including left tackle and former Buc Donald Penn. The game-winner in OT to Seth Roberts was pretty special, too.
1) Slice of Blue
Was it Derek Carr’s best game as a Raider? Not a chance, he kind of played badly, to be honest. Was it even his best throw or fourth-quarter comeback? No, we’ve got better ones on this list.
Why is it so special then? It ended 14 years of suffering.
It’s 2016, the Oakland Raiders are playing the San Diego Chargers and if the Raiders win, they clinch a postseason berth for the first time since playing in the Super Bowl at the same venue, Qualcomm Stadium. As was typical for that year, the Raiders’ offense started off slow and got down 10-3 with a little more than a minute before halftime.
Running back Latavius Murray breaks through for a 33-yard run at the beginning of the drive to cross midfield, and Carr eventually finds Crabtree in the back corner of the endzone but the wideout was called out of bounds. However, the play gets reviewed and the referee announces that a “slice of blue” could be seen between Crabtree’s cleat and the sideline to tie the game at halftime.
That sparked the offense in the second half, which was capped off by a four-minute field goal drive to win the game. After Rich Gannon in 2002, 16 quarterbacks made starts for the Raiders and the 17th was the one to finally lead them to the postseason.
Carr’s franchise records will be broken, but no one will ever be able to take away his performances in 2016 that ended one of the ugliest stretches in franchise history.