Strong effort by Raiders’ QB not enough for Mahomes and the Chiefs

Chiefs
Picture of Mahomes and Carr

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 22: Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs and Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders fist bump after the NFL game at Allegiant Stadium on November 22, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 35-31. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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February 07 2021 05:30 pm

LAS VEGAS — After Derek Carr led the Raiders to the brink of another victory over the defending Super Bowl champions, Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden described his quarterback as “almost flawless.”

That’s almost good enough to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, but not quite.

Carr went 23 of 31 for 275 yards and three touchdowns with a 119.7 passer rating Sunday night, but Mahomes matched Carr’s two scoring drives in the fourth quarter with two of his own. Carr and Gruden were left frustrated after Carr played like the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback he is, only to be outdone by a Super Bowl MVP.

“It’s as good as you can play,” Gruden said. “He had four or five balls that were magnificent throws that we could’ve caught that we didn’t make the play on. He played tremendous tonight.”

Before Sunday, Carr was 21-2 in his career when the Raiders scored 30 or more points. The Raiders also have won eight games under Carr when trailing by four or more points in the final two minutes of regulation.

Las Vegas was in charge when Carr found Jason Witten at the pylon with 1:43 left for his second TD pass of the fourth quarter, putting the Raiders ahead 31-28.

“I thought Derek Carr was in control and command the entire game,” Witten said.

But Las Vegas’ defense couldn’t stop the Chiefs on their 75-yard winning drive. Mahomes found Travis Kelce alone in the end zone with 28 seconds left.

Carr’s 31st pass was intercepted by Daniel Sorensen with 19 seconds remaining, sealing the victory for the Chiefs and avenging their home loss to the upstart Raiders last month.

Carr’s 31st pass was intercepted by Daniel Sorensen with 19 seconds remaining, sealing the victory for the Chiefs and avenging their home loss to the upstart Raiders last month.

The final interception wasn’t the reason the Raiders fell to 6-4 and dropped to the seventh spot in the AFC playoff picture.

There were eight penalties by Las Vegas. There was a defense that had key personnel that hadn’t practiced all week because nine players were on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and six weren’t activated until Sunday morning.

And there were several dropped balls that Gruden mentioned, but Carr didn’t to blame anyone.

“I’ve missed a lot of passes in my life, and I try to react the same way I’d want them to react to me,” said Carr, who surpassed 25,000 career yards passing on the Raiders’ first touchdown drive in the first quarter. “If it’s (to) challenge them, challenge them. If it’s (to) pick them up, pick them up. You try to read their demeanor. That’s why you have relationships with the guys, and you understand what makes them click.”

Fact is, they’ve been clicking most of the season. Carr is starting to find the form from his best season in 2016, and he’s doing it for the first time under Gruden.

“This is the best offense I’ve ever been a part of,” Carr said. “I say it every week, but we can win in different ways. We can smash them with the run game, or we can do a shootout. We’re proving that over time. … Today it wasn’t enough.”

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