Notes: Crabtree determined to impact game after previous performance

Notes: Crabtree determined to impact game after previous performance

OAKLAND – Michael Crabtree wasn’t happy with his performance on Monday Night Football. He shouldn’t have been. The veteran Raiders reciver was targeted seven times with three receptions for five yards and a few drops in a win over Houston in Mexico City.

He took to Twitter after that game, and vowed to be better next time.

He certainly was.

Crabtree had eight catches for 110 yards in Sunday’s 35-32 victory over the Carolina Panthers, including a 49-yard bomb on the game’s deciding drive.

That was the response Crabtree was hoping for.

“I felt like I’ve had a couple bad games,” Crabtree said. “I wasn’t going to let this game go by without making a few plays. I came out here with that one thing on my mind.”

He saved his best catch for the fourth quarter. He ran deep while in a mismatch with a middle linebacker, caught a high-arching pass from Derek Carr on his back, while being interfered with. His helmet ripped off in the process, and he left it behind as he walked off the field.

Sunday’s performance was the latest in a string of clutch performances where Crabtree showed great value to this offense.

“Michael has been really good for us,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s done that for us really the whole time he’s been here. He’s been really reliable. …We’re certainly glad we have him. He’s one of our playmakers. One of our guys we know we can go to in tough situations and he’s going to find a way. He played big for us today.”

Walford comes up big: Raiders tight end Clive Walford, an occasional contributor in the Raiders offense, had a few big catches against Carolina. He finished with three receptions for 43 yards, but his biggest came in the end zone.

He caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr that, when combined with a two-point conversion from Seth Roberts, tied the game midway through the fourth quarter.

Aldon coming back?: Raiders edge rusher Aldon Smith is eligible to return from a banishment under the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and ESPN reported on Sunday that commissioner Roger Goodell must rule on Smith’s application by Friday.

Containing Cam: The Raiders did a number on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the first half. He finished two quarters with a 1.7 passer rating after getting harassed by the Raiders pass rush.

Newton rallied his team in the third quarter and scored 25 unanswered points, but couldn’t complete the comeback. He finished with 246 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

He also rushed for a touchdown.

First winning season since 2002: The Raiders are 9-2 after the Panthers win, clinching the team’s first winning record since the 2002 season. The players didn’t fixate on that, especially with bigger goals in mind.

“It’s important not to count those things,” Crabtree said. “It’s important to focus only on the next game. You can get caught up in that. I’ve been on some winning teams, but this team right here is special. We have to focus on what’s in front of us.”

This ‘n that: DT Darius Latham suffered an ankle injury during the game. CB DJ Hayden suffered a hamstring strain and did not return. Antonio Hamilton filled in as the team’s third cornerback. …The Raiders are 9-2 for the first time since 2000, and their five-game winning streak is the longest since 2002. …RB Latavius Murray scored his ninth touchdown of the season, which is the highest total by a Raider since 2005. …DL Denico Autry blocked an extra point on Sunday, which was the fourth blocked kick of his career.

Derek Carr hopes pivotal Raiders offseason can expedite rebuilding process


Derek Carr hopes pivotal Raiders offseason can expedite rebuilding process

Derek Carr’s tired of burning daylight. He’s done some of that already, cycling through four head coaches, four offensive play callers and three offensive schemes in five NFL seasons. He was a young player brought in as part of a roster rebuild that worked.

It just didn’t last long. The Raiders fell back on hard times following a 12-4 campaign in 2016, and now head coach Jon Gruden’s fully committed to another radical reconstruction.

Gruden traded Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, guys who could’ve helped the Raiders win last season. He acquired others who didn’t, namely Martavis Bryant and Ryan Switzer and several veteran defenders who won’t see another season in silver and black.

Now the Raiders enter the offseason with an arsenal, with three first-round draft picks and $76 million in salary-cap space without anyone deserving of a long-term extension that must factor into the budget.

Carr’s hoping all those tools will expedite the rebuilding process. He doesn’t want to waste more seasons doing it slow, and hopes Gruden can import several impact players in one offseason.

“We need some guys who can come in and help us now,” Carr said in an interview with 940-AM in Fresno. “We have some good building pieces. We have some foundational pieces. Obviously, we have a quarterback, so we don’t need one of those. That’s the good thing.

“We just need some players who can help us win now. We’re building this thing. We’ve been building this thing. We’ve built this thing a couple of times. It’s time to get people who can just come in and help us now. There are a lot of veterans on this team who signed contracts or signed extensions or free-agent deals to come play here because we want to win and we believe in this system and what we’re doing.”

Count Carr among them. He signed a $125 million extension believing incumbent stars would also be here long term and find sustained success. That wish never came true, and now Gruden’s looking to remake the franchise with new guys.

This offseason will be pivotal in Gruden’s success. It could turn things around quickly, as Carr hopes, if he and general manager Mike Mayock lock onto the right guys.

“If we get three players who are NFL ready right now, if we get three starters from those three (first-round picks) or maybe four if you count some of the other picks…,” Carr said, trailing off. “And we have some cash to spend. We have a lot of cap room. If we can spend that cap and that capital and get some good veteran players, not just average guys but guys who can make a difference, (that would be positive). We’re a lot closer than people give us credit for.”

Raiders Derek Carr dismissed by Khalil Mack when asked about being dunked on


Raiders Derek Carr dismissed by Khalil Mack when asked about being dunked on

Khalil Mack and Derek Carr remained close even after they stopped being teammates. Carr was devastated to lose Mack in a trade for a Raiders' future draft compensation, both in the locker room and on the field.

Beyond the friendship, the two became main members of the silver and black, and brought much promise to the organization and hoped to create a culture change.

That, unfortunately, didn't come to fruition. 

But we're lucky they still participate in Twitter exchanges to show there are no hard feelings and the bromance is still alive and well. But most recently, they showed there will always be a competitive nature between the two.

Carr answered some questions on his YouTube channel Thursday. But someone wanted to ask via Twitter if he will still dunk on Khalil Mack in the offseason after it became public knowledge Mack has already dunked on him at David Carr's house.

The answer? Without question:

Well, that settles that, but we won't truly believe it until we see it. But at least there's the 1-on-1 win that Carr had against Mack.

Your move, Carr.