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.
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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.”