The Pro Bowl is just an exhibition, meaningless in so many ways. Yet when Raiders quarterback Derek Carr led the AFC to a victory Sunday over the NFC at the annual game in Orlando, Fla., it seemed he was making a statement about things to come in 2018.
Carr posted a picture of himself on Instagram with Raiders teammates and offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson, along with a message:
“Great week and win with my dogs! #RaiderNation first win of 2018! More to come! Always appreciate the protection!”
Carr, a late replacement to the AFC roster after having a disappointing season with Oakland in 2017, had a fine week at the Pro Bowl. He won the quarterback skills competition, drew raves from AFC wide receivers in practice and then came on in relief Sunday to lead the AFC to the 24-23 victory
Carr’s 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:31 remaining to Titans tight end Delanie Walker (plus the ensuing extra point) gave the AFC the decision.
Carr came on in the third quarter and completed 11-of-15 passes for 115 yards, one TD and an interception. The AFC victory was worth $64,000 to each member of the winning team, twice as much as each member of the NFC received.
“That’s as real as it gets in football,” Carr told the media after the game. “You always want to win, especially with money on the line.”
Carr has said he’s excited about the coming season under new head coach Jon Gruden and offensive coordinator Greg Olson, and that he wants to regain the sharpness he had in 2016 when leading the Raiders to the playoffs with a 12-4 record.