10 Dec 18
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OAKLAND — For the third straight week, the Raiders trailed by one score in the fourth quarter against a team favored by double digits.
They trailed the Ravens by three, the Chiefs by three and the Steelers by four to start the fourth quarter on Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum. In Weeks 12 and 13 the Raiders couldn’t complete the comeback against an opponent far superior on paper.
Despite taking a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter, the Raiders allowed Ben Roethlisberger to march 75 yards in six plays and 2:25 to re-take the lead. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s second touchdown catch of the afternoon came with 2:55 remaining and the Steelers led, 21-17, the Raiders only carrying one timeout after a failed challenge earlier in the half.
Derek Carr saw Roethlisberger’s feat and matched the future Hall of Famer. He drove the Raiders 75 yards in eight plays and 2:34, finding blocking tight end Derek Carrier from 6 yards out on 4th-and-goal to give the Raiders the lead.
Unlike their first fourth quarter lead, this one held, as the Raiders grabbed a miraculous win that hurts their draft stock but lifts a team in dire need of something like this. Even after Smith-Schuster’s 48-yard hook-and-lateral gain gave the Steelers a 40-yard field-goal attempt to send the game to overtime, kicker Chris Boswell slipped on his attempt and the Raiders somehow escaped with their third win of the season.
“That was a lot of fun,” Carr said. “I think I’ve said this before, too. I wish we didn’t have to win them like that. I wish we could win by a touchdown or two, but we’ll take it.”
Here are a couple quick takeaways from the game.
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Derek Carr stretches interception-less streak to eight games
After throwing eight interceptions in his first four and three-quarters games, Carr hasn’t thrown a pick since the end of the third quarter against the Chargers in Week 5.
Since Melvin Ingram picked him off in the end zone in the Raiders’ 26-10 loss to the Chargers, Carr has thrown 261 passes (eight games and one quarter) without completing one to the other team. Against the Steelers he went 25-of-34 for 322 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers probably should’ve picked Carr twice, but his career-best streak stayed alive. Before his current interception-less streak, Carr had never gone four straight games without an interception.
“We didn’t know stat-wise how it was going to start out,” Carr said of his pairing with Gruden. “It would just take time for people to see it the way we see it and things like that. To be able to do that I think feels good because it puts a stamp on it.”
Carr’s streak is the second-longest active such run in the NFL behind Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who Sunday broke Tom Brady’s NFL record of 358 straight passes without an interception.
The Raiders may still be the worst team in the NFL, but at least their quarterback knows who to throw the ball to.
Jared Cook bolsters Pro Bowl campaign, but he’s not only TD showing out
For the second straight week, Cook eclipsed 100 yards receiving. And for the second straight week, blocking tight end Lee Smith caught a touchdown.
Cook looks destined for his first-ever Pro Bowl appearance, now at a career-high 825 receiving yards on the season. Smith hadn’t caught a touchdown since 2015, before last Sunday, but he’s been wide open in the end zone after play action two games in a row.
Cook finished Sunday with seven catches for 116 yards, while Smith’s touchdown gave the Raiders a 17-14 lead late in the fourth quarter. Even Carrier caught his first touchdown of the season, the eventual game-winner.
“Those guys work their tails off to be here and to see those guys get rewarded for their hard work is great,” Cook said.
If anything in this lost season, the Raiders’ tight ends are showing up even when there’s little to play for.
Hurst, Osemele, Anderson sit this one out
Rookie defensive tackle Mo Hurst, maybe the Raiders’ best defensive player, missed his first game of the year with a nagging ankle injury. Hurst played through the injury last Sunday against the Chiefs, but the injury worsened and fellow rookie P.J. Hall took his place on the defensive line.
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Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele missed his fourth game of the season, this time with a toe injury instead of his prior knee issue. Jon Feliciano started at left guard in Osemele’s place.
Running back C.J. Anderson was a healthy scratch after signing with the Raiders earlier this week. Part of the reason Oakland signed Anderson was because of Doug Martin’s questionable status early in the week due to a knee issue, but Martin practiced without any hiccups, delaying Anderson’s Raiders debut.