'No surprise' Raiders go for it on pivotal fourth down

'No surprise' Raiders go for it on pivotal fourth down

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.”

[BAIR: Instant Replay: Raiders down Bolts, tie Broncos for first in West]

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.”

Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order


Aldon Smith back in custody after police say he violated restraining order

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Oakland Raiders player Aldon Smith surrendered to police Friday on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order.

San Francisco police said the 28-year-old Smith turned himself and was booked on three misdemeanor charges of violating a court order to stay away from a domestic violence victim.

Earlier this month, Smith pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and other charges and a judge issued a protective order prohibiting him from contacting the victim.

Police said Smith violated the restraining order earlier this week.

Smith’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, did not return a voicemail message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The Raiders released the linebacker days after his arrest on the domestic violence charges.

He had been on the suspended list since late 2015 for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.

Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster


Raiders retain E.J. Manuel, now have four QBs on the roster

The Raiders have a lot of quarterbacks under contract, certainly more than they’ll have come September.

That means the battle to be Derek Carr’s backup should be fierce. EJ Manuel had that title last year, with a shot to retain it after re-signing with the club on Thursday afternoon.

Veteran Josh Johnson signed up Monday, and those two will join third-year man Connor Cook behind Carr on the depth chart.

New head coach Jon Gruden loved Cook coming out of the draft, but the Michigan State alum failed to earn the backup job last season and must make a move up the depth chart to kickstart his career.

Manuel has a strong arm and starting experience, making him a steady and solid backup option. He completed 24-of-43 passes for 265 yards, a touchdown and an interception in two games when Carr was hurt.

Johnson might be a camp arm at this point, though he’ll be given a chance to compete this spring and summer.

Carr has been hurt for at least a small stretch in each of the last two seasons. Having Manuel in that spot might offer stability.

Gruden addressed last year’s backup quarterbacks last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gruden on Manuel: “I think EJ is a young, talented guy,” Gruden said. “He’s been in the facility working out on his own every day. There is a bright upside to him, too, as a young quarterback to keep working with. He’s a free agent, but the Philadelphia Eagles proved that’s a pretty damn important position, isn’t it? Right? So we have to address that and see where we are.”

Gruden on Cook: “I am kind of surprised Connor hasn’t played in two years, other than the playoff game he got in as a rookie. After Derek got hurt last year, they turned the ball to EJ. I don’t know where Connor Cook is. I am frustrated right now that I can’t spend any time with him, but, April 9th (when the Raiders offeseason program starts) will be an exciting day for me and Connor Cook.”