OAKLAND – The Raiders faced a fourth down late in Sunday’s game against San Diego, a pivotal moment to be sure.
Quarterback Derek Carr looked to the sideline and found the field goal unit hadn’t moved an inch. He wasn’t shocked. Not one bit.
After an afternoon spent searching in vain for the end zone, head coach Jack Del Rio was going for it.
“No surprise,” Carr said. “I think he was probably as frustrated as we were we weren’t getting touchdowns.”
The Raiders weren’t going to settle for a field goal there. Or a first down for that matter.
Carr dropped back from the 21-yard line and threw a fade toward Michael Crabtree, who raced downfield and caught it just across the goal line.
That was the pivot point in a 34-31 victory over the Chargers. It was part of 18 unanswered points that allowed the Raiders to surge ahead for good.
Del Rio didn’t stress about the decision. He didn’t hesitate when going for the win in New Orleans. He didn’t blink when trying to give his team a late lead and build on positive momentum.
“It’s like in all these situations, you make the call (based on) what you think is best for the team and then you count on your guys going out and executing,” Del Rio said. “(Crabtree) got open an made a nice play.”
It was no surprise Crabtree got the call in that situation. He was targeted on the decisive two-point conversion against the Saints. He was the focal point against Baltimore, when he scored three touchdowns including the game-winner with two minutes left.
Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward covered Crabtree, but Carr liked his one-on-one matchup anyway and threw it up for his guy.
“I take some chances here and there,” Carr said. “We just hope they work out more times than they don’t, but he’s a guy that’s super competitive. He wants to win. Whenever, he’s upset – if he’s ever upset, it’s because he’s just competitive and wants the team to win. It’s not that he wants the ball, it’s just that he wants the team to win. I can roll with someone like that any day.”