The Oakland Raiders returned to the Oakland Coliseum in Week 16 and defeated the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 33-25. While the stadium was rocking, the mood of the Raiders completely went silent on a season-changing play.
Quarterback Derek Carr was twisted on his way down in the only sack the Raiders would allow the entire game. Coming into the contest, the offensive line of the Raiders had allowed a NFL-low 15 sacks and that seemed to be their only blemish.
However, that lone blemish proved to be crucial, as Carr couldn’t gather himself to his feet. After being helped to the sideline and carted to the locker room, the training staff revealed that Carr suffered a broken fibula and will require surgery.
During that unfortunate play, Carr was tackled by Colts’ defensive lineman Trent Cole. Pro-Bowl offensive lineman Donald Penn was guarding Cole on that play and felt partially responsible for the injury. After the game, Penn stated that he is disappointed in himself and what the Raiders need to do moving forward, via Raiders.com:
Penn: “We need to step up, next man up. It’s sad. I’m very disappointed in myself because it’s my guy that got him. I’ve been great all year, I don’t know how. I was engaged with my guy, I took another step and my foot slipped out from under me. I wish I had that play back. I’ve been great all year, I slip up on one play. I’m mad at myself. I’ll be good tomorrow but I’m mad at myself. I wish there was something else I could do. I’ve never had a quarterback get hurt in my career. I’m upset right now.”
There seemed to be a somber mode around the organization following Carr’s injury, even though the Raiders secured their 12th victory of the season. With one regular season game left, Matt McGloin will step in and take over the starting quarterback duties.
McGloin converted on a late third down to Amari Cooper on Saturday, which sealed the victory for the Raiders. While the Raiders all sent their best wishes and remained sad about Carr, they understand the team must move forward.
Upon clinching their first playoff birth since 2002, the Raiders still have a lot to prove this season. NFL experts state that Carr’s surgery will put him out 6-8 weeks, although former players have returned from a broken fibula in less than a month.
If the Raiders could clinch the first-round bye in Week 17, it would mean there would be about a four-week lapse between Carr’s injury and the first-round matchup. However, the Raiders won’t bank on that happening, as they expect the next man to step up.
Head coach Jack Del Rio said it felt like the wind was knocked out of him, but understands that the team must rally to overcome the huge blow:
Coach Del Rio: “Yeah, it obviously is a blow. That’s what teams do. Teams have to find a way to pick up and move on. We’ll rally around the next guy as best we can. That’s what you do. It’ll be incumbent on the offensive line and the backs to do more. The defense to do more. The special teams to do more. As a team, pick it up and do more to fill in. Obviously, that’s a big setback.”
A Week 17 matchup against the Denver Broncos has a lot on the line. With the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the Broncos 33-10, it means the Broncos are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
The Raiders will travel to the Mile High Stadium in Week 17, with an opportunity for McGloin to prepare for the possible challenges he will face ahead. The Raiders not only have their division on the line, but also a first-round bye that will allow more time for the team to gel.