The Raiders quarterback made a quick beeline to the locker room and never returned. It could have been Carr’s final act in the Silver and Black. It also could have spelled disaster for Las Vegas, who entered the contest with a must-win mentality and a slim chance at the playoffs.
While Marcus Mariota didn’t deliver the victory for the Raiders, he made some big plays before putting them in a position to win in overtime with a drive that resulted in a field goal.
"To be truthful, it’s been a long journey,” Mariota said after making his Raiders debut. “I’ve been through kind of everything. From injuries to surgeries to mental lapses, the confidence thing. I just truly appreciate the Raiders and the entire organization for helping me through that.”
Alas, the Raiders’ defense ultimately caved to Justin Herbert and the Chargers, who answered with a game-winning touchdown drive in overtime.
Mariota started strong with a seven-play, 86-yard drive that was capped off with an absolute dime for a 35-yard touchdown to Darren Waller down the left sideline. In the fourth quarter, Mariota used his legs to scramble toward the right pylon and leap through traffic for a game-tying score. He threw an interception and easily could have thrown a couple more, but finished 17-of-28 for 226 yards passing and 88 yards rushing.
“When it comes down to it, it’s still ball,” Mariota said. “I just love being out there again. It was fun to play, but unfortunately we just didn’t make enough plays.”
The Raiders shelled out some major cash for Mariota when they signed him to a two-year, $17.6 million contract this past offseason. This season’s salary ranks him No. 21 among NFL quarterbacks even though he’s a second-stringer, so this is exactly the type of situation they paid him for.
Mariota isn’t responsible for the woeful Raiders secondary, though, which was picked apart by Herbert for 314 yards and gave up a 53-yard bomb to Jalen Guyton to set up the game-winning touchdown. It ended up being a shootout between two of the finest signal-callers to ever graduate from the University of Oregon, but Herbert quacked last.
“Just like to say that I’m really proud of our team,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “We lost a lot of men tonight and had a lot of men missing. Thought Mariota came in and did a great job. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t find a way to win that game at the end.”
Carr is due about $40 million over the final two seasons of the monster contract he signed in 2017, but the Raiders could cut him next offseason while only taking a $2.5 million dead cap hit. It’s Mariota’s show now as he gets a big opportunity to audition for Gruden and the Raiders’ coaching staff.