In the Raiders’ victory over Tampa Bay Sunday, quarterback Derek Carr simply would not allow his team to lose.
He drove Oakland to a late, tying touchdown in the fourth quarter, then put his team in position to win with a field goal at the end of regulation. In overtime, he kept his team moving, eventually hitting Seth Roberts on a 41-yard touchdown play for a 30-24 victory.
Now, at the halfway point of the team’s season, the Raiders are 6-2 and tied atop the AFC West with the Denver Broncos.
In Sunday’s victory, Carr threw for a franchise-record 513 yards and four touchdowns without an interception and had a quarterback rating of 117.4.
For the season, Carr has a career-best 100.9 QB rating and is No. 5 in the league in passing yards with 2,321. He’s completed 66.3 percent of his throws for 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Plus, late in games, he’s been terrific.
Suddenly, the third-year pro is being mentioned as an NFL Most Valuable Player candidate. On Monday, Greg Bedard of Sports Illustrated wrote that Carr deserves to be considered for MVP after an “absolutely sensational” performance against the Bucs.
“Considering how bad the Raiders’ defense is, the fact that the Raiders lead the AFC West at 6-2 with three game-winning drives from Carr means he is very much a legitimate MVP candidate if Oakland can stay at the top of the division,” wrote Bedard.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports concurs, noting Carr is on pace for 34 TD passes and just six picks. Added Prisco: “Remember that debate about the best quarterback from the 2014 draft this offseason? It’s over. For now that’s an easy one. It’s clearly Carr.”
Dieter Kurtenbach of Fox Sports writes that Carr “should be considered the leader” for the MVP award at the season’s midpoint.
“Stymied by a defense that can’t seem to get off the field and surrounded by an offense that can’t seem to stop committing penalties, Carr has lifted the Raiders to six wins my making plays in all areas of the game: short passes, deep throws, with his feet – he’s done it all this season,” Kurtenbach wrote.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio says Carr “was awesome” vs. the Bucs. But he has become used to seeing great things from his QB.
“I think we’ll continue to see good (games) from him,” Del Rio told reporters after Sunday’s game. “He’s very confident, he’s got some weapons that he’s utilizing and he had a heck of a performance today.”
The Raiders will play host to the Broncos this Sunday night, at 5:30 p.m., in a duel for the division lead.