ALAMEDA, Calif. – As the Oakland Raiders went through the first half of the season without a win, one positive they could latch onto was the promising play from rookie quarterback Derek Carr.
The second half of the season started off with another loss as Carr played his worst game of the season in a 41-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Carr threw two interceptions, threw another pass to an ineligible offensive lineman that led to a fumble and was unable to get the ball downfield at all until a late garbage-time drive as the Raiders (0-9) lost their 15th straight game.
"It's not just Derek," interim coach Tony Sparano said Monday. "I know we want to make this just about Derek, but it's not really about Derek. I thought at times in the game yesterday, the kid really did some good things. Then there are times during the ballgame yesterday you can tell that everybody at one point was trying to do a little too much."
While Carr is getting almost no help from a running game on pace to be the least productive in the NFL since the 1946 Detroit Lions and a receiving group that struggles to get open, it was his mistakes that played a big role in the game spiraling out of control after the Raiders took a 10-6 lead.
Oakland looked to add onto the lead late in the first half with the ball near midfield when Carr threw an ill-advised pass over the middle that sailed on him after he was hit and went right to Bradley Roby for an interception.
Three plays later, the Broncos took the lead on a 51-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Anderson. The Raiders followed that with one of their nine three-and-outs in the game, leading to one more Denver touchdown before the half.
The problems only got worse from there as Carr dumped off a pass to guard Khalif Barnes, thinking it was running back Darren McFadden. Barnes caught the ball even though he was ineligible and it would have been a penalty. The problem only got worse when Barnes fumbled, setting up another Denver touchdown.
Carr threw another interception later in the third quarter, setting up Manning's fifth touchdown pass of the game.
"I'm really not sure what he's seeing out there and why he threw some of the balls that he threw up, or whatever," Oakland safety Charles Woodson said after the game. "I'm sure there's a combination of both of those things — a young guy, or maybe they threw him some different looks maybe that he hadn't seen. I'm not sure, but these are things he's going to have to go through."
Carr finished 30 for 47 for 192 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. His stat line was saved by a final drive when he completed all seven passes for 96 yards and a touchdown, saving him from having the most attempts ever for a quarterback who failed to reach 100 yards passing.
The past two weeks with four interceptions and 386 yards passing on 88 attempts have been a step back for a player who got off to a fast start highlighted by four touchdown passes against San Diego last month.
"As a rookie nine games into it, I'm learning. I'm learning," he said after the game. "It doesn't matter what happens, whether I go out and I throw four touchdowns or I throw two picks, whatever, I'm learning and I'm growing."
NOTES: Sparano gave the players the day off Monday despite the latest loss. With two games in the next 10 days, including Nov. 20 at home against Kansas City, he felt it was necessary to give the players a break. "At some point, you have to give the players a chance to stop for some gas somewhere," Sparano said. ... RT Menelik Watson must go through the concussion protocol after leaving the game Sunday with a head injury. ... Sparano had no update on the status of CB DJ Hayden, who left the game with a groin injury.
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