Quarterback Derek Carr
Derek Carr continues to impress in his third season and is making a strong case for this season's MVP. Sunday afternoon against the Carolina Panthers, the Oakland Raiders quarterback left the game in the third quarter with a finger injury that left the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum silent. Fortunately, Carr would return and seemingly picked up where he left off, which couldn't have come at a better time.
The Raiders signal-caller performed in the clutch yet again, helping the team rally from a 32-24 deficit in the final minutes of the game. He delivered a strike to tight end Clive Walford to make the score 32-30 and followed it up with a two-point conversion to wide receiver Seth Roberts, thus tying the game.
The Silver and Black's defense and special teams would close out the 35-32 victory over Carolina, but Carr proved again why he's so special. Monday morning, the Fresno State-product appeared on air with 95.7 The Game's J.T. the Brick to reflect on Sunday's showdown.
Carr said the team was aware of how challenging the Panthers would be and that they are a force to be reckoned with.
"We knew it was going to be like that, we didn't know how, but we knew that they were going to fight. Their backs are against the wall, they're in a certain situation there, and we knew as a team that they were going to fight. They're the defending NFC Champions for a reason, they still have all those players on that team, they still have a fantastic quarterback and MVP in Cam Newton. You know they're going to come out swinging, you know that they were going to fight."
The Raiders signal-caller expressed his gratitude for the amount of support Raider Nation continues to show him.
"Coming back in and hearing the crowd just go crazy… you just feel very loved. That's Raider Nation, man, it's a family. It's not just some player, or that's some guy or anything like that, they treat you like family. I'm not going to lie to you, as a human being I was overwhelmed, I was very thankful, but I had to get my mind right and go win a football game."
He shared his conversation with Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack before the defense took the field for the final drive.
"He [kicker Sebastian Janikowski] knocked the field goal through and I came over to the sideline and I looked at Khalil [Mack] and I said, 'hey man, go end the game.' And he said, 'okay, I got your back bro,' and he gave me a hug and he said, 'let's go.' I walked off and I just sat there praying for them, I wanted our guys to do good, and they went out there and obviously we saw how it ended. Khalil, he's the best, he's one of the best football players this game has ever seen and I hope everybody appreciates him, because he's one heck of a football player."
**Carr praised tight end Clive Walford for making a big play at a crucial time and discussed his development.
"We know Clive [Walford] is that kind of player, we know how good he is, and I know how good he is. He works extremely hard, he always comes up to me begging me to tell him if he's doing anything wrong, if I need any more out of him or anything like that. I think that's what's going to separate him as he continues to grow and get older, and continue to be a good football player, which he already is… Clive did a great job of extending his arms and catching it at the highest point and coming down in the back of the end zone with the ball."
He talked about the team's preparation and how it views every game as a must-win, regardless of who they play.
"I think that we have a great process here where we're just going to treat every game like it feels like that, from day one. Because to be honest, there's a lot of times when you get to the end of the year and you're like, 'man, I wish we had that win back in October, or wish we had that win back in September.' You can't ever get them back and as long as you create it from the beginning, then when it comes, and the games are actually like that it doesn't really matter. You have this process in your mind of how you want to work and how you do things, that your mind doesn't go that way. I think it's important that our team continues to stay focused on our process."