ALAMEDA – Derek Carr beat the Detroit Lions with a tiebreaking, game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. The Raiders quarterback completed two passes to Jalen Richard for chunk yards and another to Hunter Renfrow for a touchdown. Mix in some runs and that accounts for 75 yards with the game on the line.
Carr orchestrated another game-winner at the Coliseum the following Thursday night against the Chargers, connecting with Richard, then Renfrow, then Richard, the Renfrow, then Richard again. That set up Josh Jacobs' 18-yard touchdown run to beat the Bolts.
Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller were in the pattern on both series. Carr enjoys going to the Raiders' top targets in big moments, but they're typically blanketed with additional coverage.
Carr isn't one to force the issue when a path of less resistance comes available, allowing the Raiders to steadily work down the field even in a time crunch.
He doesn't have to worry about egos or demands for the darn ball when he gets back to the huddle. The Raiders share a singular focus, and that helps the quarterback operate under pressure and in times of less stress.
"It is so special and it's very rare nowadays. We do not care about fantasy numbers, we do not care about stats, we don't care about anything but winning," Carr said. "And if they are going to take Waller away, the way we are going to have to win games is for someone else to step up and win their matchup. If they are going to take the pass game away, myself and our pass game, then Josh has to win it with our offensive line. If they want to take Josh away, then our guys have to win outside."
Carr has worked with several top receivers and tight ends, with egos of varying sizes. His past experiences have been, at times, worse than this one.
"We as a team, we have such a good group of skill position guys that do not care about that stuff and, as you know, that's rare especially nowadays when everything is on social media," Carr said. "If you don't get enough fantasy points, people are tweeting you and all this kind of stuff. I promise you no one on our team cares about that stuff even a little bit."
Waller has been the best Raiders receiver in fantasy and the real world. His 51 catches for 588 yards rank first by a large margin, yet Carr has seven receivers with at least 12 catches.
Waller's seeing the ball go in different directions by garnering extra attention, but he's happy others are stepping up.
"It's really cool, but I'm not really surprised," Waller said. "They've been doing it. They've been showing themselves in practice from spring until now. It's just a chance for everyone else to see it now. We've seen it for a while so, but it's awesome to see."
That attitude comes from a team-first dynamic built by weathering so much adversity through the season. This group has bonded over all that and is playing better than the sum of its parts because of it.
"We care about each other; we care about seeing each other succeed," Carr said. "That's why if you ever watch our team, whenever someone scores a touchdown you don't see anyone on the field like, ‘Man, that should have been my ball or man, that should have been me.' Nobody cares about that stuff. We just cared that our buddy scored and we are going to win the football game."