DENVER – The Raiders know all to well what happens when Derek Carr goes down. That happened late last year, and the Raiders completely unraveled.
They lost a chance to win the AFC West in Denver, and got waxed in a playoff game at Houston.
They used Matt McGloin and Connor Cook last year. They have EJ Manuel now.
The veteran backup took over when Carr suffered a back injury late in the third quarter of Sunday’s 16-10 loss to the Broncos. While he didn’t complete the comeback, Manuel fared well down the final stretch.
He was 11-for-17 for 106 yards. He led the Raiders on a field goal drive. And he had them knocking on the door to score a later game-winning touchdown before he was baited into a interception.
Amari Cooper looked open a first, but safety Justin Simmons closed quickly and secured victory for Denver with a pick.
That throw, and some misuse of timeouts, were pockmarks on an otherwise decent performance under tough circumstances.
“I understood the situation and my biggest thing was just getting in a rhythm as fast as possible,” Manuel said. “I haven’t gone with the first team since we started the season. The situation is what it is. You’ve got to perform. I’ll go back and watch the tape and move forward.”
Carr’s back injury isn’t a long-term thing, and there’s a legitimate chance he plays next week against Baltimore. Manuel will be ready if he can’t go, and should give the Raiders a better chance that reserves did late last season. He showed some moxie, which instilled confidence in his teammates should he been needed again.
“He did a good job, a really good job,” tight end Jared Cook said. “That is what we need when guys go down, for guys to step up, fill their role, play their position and come up big.”