GREEN BAY, Wis. – Derek Carr surveyed the Packers defensive backfield for a beat but couldn’t find anyone open. The Raiders quarterback rolled to his right and saw a path to the end zone. He took off running, with a defender angling hard to cut him off. Contact was coming soon, so Carr dove with an arm outstretched, reaching for the pylon.
The ball slipped from his grasp just before Carr’s knee hit the ground, thrust threw the corner of the end zone and out of bounds.
Raiders fans know all too well what happens next.
Touchback. Disaster. The clear pivot point in a damaging Raiders loss.
This one ended up a 42-24 loss to the Packers. If that sequence sounds hauntingly familiar, it should. That’s also how the Raiders lost to Dallas back in 2017, with Carr losing possession in identical fashion, again reaching out to the right pylon.
Carr said after the Cowboys loss that he would make the same play again in the future. Sunday might’ve been the last time he executes it like that.
"Everyone was patting me on the side of the head like, ‘you’re just trying to make a play,’ and I understand that,” Carr said. “Because of the result as a fumble, it’s the Packers’ ball and that sucks. In that moment, it’s so hard because you’re right there and you’re playing a tough team where you need all the points you can get. It’s so hard not to try. That’s everything I’ve even been about my entire life, is to try."
Carr knows the technique must be different next time.
“I’ve got to go with two hands, right?” Carr said. “Trying to extend to with one hand isn’t smart. That’s stupid. But, at the end of the day, it’s really hard to, in that situation, while you’re running, I’m not thinking about anything else but getting in the end zone. But it sucks, man. It’s my fault. I let my team down on that.”
The Raiders allowed that mistake to snowball and eventually avalanche. The defense took responsibility for what happened next. They let Aaron Rodgers go 80 yards and score before the end of the half and run another one win to start the third quarter.
The Raiders were 2 yards from a lead when Carr fumbled and were down 18 points before his next meaningful snap.
“That was a huge sequence in the game, but that’s not all on Derek,” safety Erik Harris said. “We play complementary football, and we as a defense needed to pick the team up at the end of the second half. We didn’t do that. We have to do better in those situations.”
Carr’s fumble will be the focal point of that terrible, no-good, very bad series of unfortunate events. He instantly had flashbacks to the Dallas game two years ago and recalled it after this loss.
“It’s so tough as a competitor to just run out at the 2-yard line and not try to go for the end zone,” Carr said. “If you score, everyone’s high-fiving you. If you fumble, everyone tells you to do it better. I understand that I dropped the ball and I messed up. I have to get better at using two hands. I have to practice that. That’s completely my fault.”
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Head coach Jon Gruden obviously didn’t like the result, but he didn’t mind the hustle.
“He’s trying to give great effort and lay out to score,” Gruden said. “The ball slipped out of his hands. If he had scored, we’d all feel pretty good. Unfortunately, it was 28-10 the next time we got the ball. That was a big play in the game and, defensively, we gave up a big play at the end of the first half and a big play to start the third quarter. We can’t play like that. We just can’t do it. Credit to them.”