Raiders

Derek Carr's performance in Raiders' loss to Chiefs bad in any weather

Derek Carr's performance in Raiders' loss to Chiefs bad in any weather

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Derek Carr heard all week about how bad he plays in cold weather, how Arrowhead Stadium is his personal house of horrors.

The Raiders quarterback had another terrible day in a 40-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that spoon-fed that narrative and proved detractors right, but he vehemently stated that the elements played no part in his lackluster performance.

“I think we handled it just fine,” Carr said. “It was not a factor, because I do not want to take anything away from the plays that they made. If it was 80 degrees or 30 degrees, it does not matter.”

Carr can’t escape the fact that he’s 0-6 at Arrowhead Stadium and 0-5 in games played at 40 degrees or less.

Sunday’s weather in Kansas City was frightful. It was 36 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of 25 degrees, and snow flurries descended as the game wore on.

“I think everyone struggles to a degree in cold weather. That’s is why a lot of people move south,” Gruden said. “I have to do a better job of helping him. I think it starts with me and ends there. He is a good quarterback. I think he has a chance to be great. It just wasn’t his day and it wasn’t our day.”

Carr finished 20-of-30 passing for 222 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions and a 71.8 passer rating. Those numbers were inflated by a garbage time touchdown drive that accounted for 70 yards and a score.

The Raiders passing game was awful most of the night, and severely hurt the Raiders’ ability to finish drives despite Josh Jacobs going strong in the first half.

Carr threw two interceptions in the first half that led to Chiefs touchdowns. Tyrann Mathieu broke off his responsibility to make the first pick, baiting Carr to make a throw. Safety Juan Thornhill jumped Tyrell Williams’ route on the second interception and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown.

Mathieu said those calculated risks came about after properly identifying when Carr would try to work the ball down the field.

“When he did take shots down the field, we were able to understand it pre-snap by the formation and it would put us in position to make a play,” Mathieu said. “Derek is going to try and take care of the football. Tight ends, running backs, check downs, that’s kind of his game. I was glad we were able to capitalize on him when he did try to throw the ball down the field.”

Easily read quarterback decisions might be a bigger issue than anything to do with the weather, and ultimately cost the Raiders dearly. The Mathieu interception was a tough break, but the Thornhill pick six was the game’s true turning point.

“[The interceptions are] very frustrating,” Carr said. “You can’t turn the ball over, and you’ve got to credit their defense. I pride myself on taking care of the football, but they made two great plays. We can’t have that happen. That’s my fault.”

This loss wasn’t all Carr’s fault, but the well-paid franchise quarterback will shoulder most of the blame after another nasty-looking loss. The Raiders were running well but the air attack was inept. Raiders receivers were a non-factor in this one, rarely creating separation against the Chiefs secondary. The Silver and Black played most of this game with just eight yards passing produced by a receiver, before more of them got involved on that meaningless touchdown drive. Williams was a non-factor, and Zay Jones didn’t play a significant role. The Raiders certainly missed the injured Hunter Renfrow, a point made clear by the Raiders converting just 3-of-13 third downs.

[RELATED: Self-inflicted wounds cost Raiders]

While Carr’s performance was bad in any condition, it continued a run of poor play in Kansas City. His 222 passing yards tied a career high in Kansas City. He has never had a passer rating above 77 in this place, where he has lost all six times he has played here.

“It’s easy to look as his interceptions, but it is a tough place to play,” Gruden said. “It’s a tough environment. It’s cold and windy. They played good defense, and we were behind most of the game. All those things, with bad field position and a long way to go are tough on a quarterback.”

NFL rumors: Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs expected to play vs. Jaguars

NFL rumors: Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs expected to play vs. Jaguars

The Raiders should receive a big boost this Sunday when they suit up for their final game in Oakland. 

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday morning that Raiders' rookie running back Josh Jacobs is expected to return against the Jaguars after missing last week's loss to the Titans with a shoulder injury. 

Jacobs made an impassioned plea to play against Tennessee and teared up when he learned the Raiders wouldn't let him go. He even took a painkilling injection to prepare for play, but the medical staff ruled the rookie out. 

Coach Jon Gruden hinted Monday that Jacobs could return this week after missing just one game. 

“We’re never going to put a guy out there that can’t play, but we’re going into the last game in the history of the Oakland Raiders and it’s an emotional time," Gruden told reporters. "We’re going to try to win the game. We’re not eliminated from the playoffs and we’re going to try to win every single time we strap it on.”

[RELATED: Sunday marks end of an era for longtime Black Hole residents]

Jacobs, the No. 24 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has been a star as a rookie this season. He became the first rookie in Raiders history to rush for at least 1,000 yards, and is up to 1,061 on 218 carries. The 21-year-old is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, 88.4 yards rushing per game and has scored seven touchdowns. 

Despite missing last Sunday's game, Jacobs still ranks sixth among the NFL's rushing leaders -- just 10 yards behind Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott.

Why jumping into Black Hole is so unforgettable for Raiders players

Why jumping into Black Hole is so unforgettable for Raiders players

Raiders running back Jalen Richard drifted into the left flat and caught a screen pass from quarterback Derek Carr a few yards from pay dirt. Three receivers were engaged and blocking well before him, allowing Richard to squiggle through traffic and into Oakland Coliseum’s southern end zone.

It was a big moment for the 2016 Raiders, looking to enhance playoff positioning with a Week 16 home win over Indianapolis. It was a big moment for Richard, an undrafted rookie who found himself a major contributor in a playoff push. He didn’t stop to celebrate with his teammates. No way, not after his first touchdown in the East Bay.

There was tradition to uphold. Richard made a beeline for the Black Hole.

“It was definitely planned,” Richard said. “I thought they looked like they were turnt up. Everybody was faded and having a blast. I knew I had to do it.”

It’s a rite of passage for Raiders skill players fortunate enough to score near a notoriously rabid fan section.

“Sometimes I plan on it, and other times it just happens,” Raiders running back DeAndre Washington said. “Once you get in the end zone, your adrenaline is going and you’ve got 60,000 people screaming for you to come get that love. They always embrace you. It’s one hell of a feeling. I would advise anybody who scores to try it at least once."

Jumping into the Black Hole isn’t new. Running back Napoleon Kaufman was first to do it in the mid-1990s -- the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995 -- as the Black Hole was established and growing in size and notoriety.

The tradition grew from there and has become commonplace when the Raiders break into the southern end zone. There’s one more guaranteed chance to do so Sunday against Jacksonville, the final Raiders game at Oakland Coliseum and maybe the Black Hole's last hurrah.

It’s not just rushers and receivers who can get in on the act.

Quarterback Jeff George took the leap in 1997. Edge rusher Khalil Mack and linebacker Sio Moore have partied in the crowd. Even 340-pound left tackle Donald Penn jumped into the Black Hole after scoring a big-man touchdown.

Former All-Pro fullback Marcel Reece never missed a chance to party with the fans who unwaveringly supported the Raiders during some lean years.

“Jumping in the Black Hole and celebrating with those fans, those loyalists, those people who bleed silver and black just like you do, it’s like being at Thanksgiving dinner with your family,” Reece said. “It’s that feeling where, no matter what else is going on, nothing else matters but that moment right there.

"The fact that you scored and gave them a reason to cheer is a feeling that’s like nothing else.”

There is some technique to it. You need a head of steam and decent hops to get over the stadium wall and into the crowd. It’s decently low, but folks have tried to get into the Black Hole and missed. It’s also important to jump up, turn around and go in backwards. The leap of faith will be rewarded by fans ready to catch you.

“You need a little bounce or you’ll get embarrassed,” Raiders running back DeAndre Washington said. “I’ve seen a few guys miss the leap, so you’ve got to be ready to get vertical. Even if you don’t make it, the fans will pull you up. You might get a little beer on you, but that’s part of the experience.”

There’s another aspect of the experience first-timers don’t expect. Getting in is easy. Getting out is another matter.

“Sometimes they don’t like to let you go,” Washington said. “And, if you get in there with the ball, it’s going to be a fight for sure. You have to protect it like you were still running.”

[RELATED: Sunday marks end of an era for longtime Black Hole residents]

The experience doesn’t last long. Teammates come running up quick, with offensive linemen ready to pull scorers out of the abyss. Beer stains come with it, but it’s a unique part of the Raiders playing experience.

“It’s like you’re a part of the Black Hole for a split second,” Richard said. “You jump up there and you just feed off of their energy. It’s pretty awesome.”