Watching Derek Carr warm up on the Oakland Raider sidelines was like turning on the tape and looking at the guy from last year who took the league by storm. The ball seemed to have just that extra little zip coming out of his hands and his game face was focused on the task at hand. Head coach Jack Del Rio seemed at peace and filled with confidence in the abilities of his quarterback to go out and get it done against a team that has been his nemesis.
Career-high 210 receiving yards for Amari Cooper.
AC⚡️DC is back. pic.twitter.com/GmB1jhWoiB
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 20, 2017
In a dreamy scenario bordering on nightmarish with the game on the line and the clock ticking, Carr was able to drive his team down the field and take part in three untimed plays after regulation had ended before throwing a sprint pass to Michael Crabtree to secure the victory. Finishing the game 29-52 for 417 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions it easy to see that Carr was on his game and against the Chiefs, a team he has only defeated once in three years.
Carr averaged 84.8 air yards per game in his first 5 games of the season.
He threw for 248 air yards against KC. That's a BIG difference. https://t.co/Ird7CJgaG4
— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) October 21, 2017
Carr has been frustrated, but not in a bad way, by the lack of production the offense has enjoyed in the last four games. Questions about how long he’s holding the ball were beginning to be asked, about the scheme being convoluted and players being unable to execute in unison. Likewise, Amari Cooper has been plagued by unreliable hands and an offensive game plan which has placed him in situations where the quarterback had felt less confident about throwing to him.
From the first play on offense when the Kansas City Chiefs defense came out lined up in a cover-2 man press alignment, things looked like they were looking up for quarterback Derek Carr and Cooper the slumping receiver. Having previously been ripped apart by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rushing attack, the Chiefs chose to place extra attention on the box/line of scrimmage and Carr and Cooper made them pay.
#Raiders QB Derek Carr's 10 deep passes (targets 20+ yards downfield) against KC are the most deep attempts by any QB in a game this season
— PFF OAK Raiders (@PFF_Oakland) October 22, 2017
Finally shaking free of the shackles of being double teamed; Cooper found room to get in and out of his breaks and open spaces to receive the ball. Gaining separation all over the field and scoring on multiple plays. Cooper went deep, across the middle, underneath and most importantly into the end zone. Carr and the Raiders offense jump started Cooper and the results were spectacular.
— NFL (@NFL) October 20, 2017
Carr was at his sharpest in the pocket and he danced around the pocket avoiding Justin Houston’s relentless pass rush from the edge. The offense was in sync and in rhythm, it had flow. Carr has looked frantic and uncomfortable in the pocket and with good reason. Having, in fact, suffered three transverse process fractures in his back most people would have their mind devoted to not getting hit in the back. Perhaps finally feeling like himself and being ready to go out and play, Carr put up his best game of the season and arguably a better performance than his club record 513-yard performance.
— PFF OAK Raiders (@PFF_Oakland) October 20, 2017
It was a tremendous game for Carr as he distributed the ball to all of his receiving options and got his tight end Jared Cook over 100 yards for the first time this season. Cook was instrumental down the stretch with big catch after big chain moving catch. Crabtree sealed the game with his second catch in the end zone the first that counted. But the story of the game was the band getting back together and leaving the Chiefs in the words of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, thunderstruck.