Derek Carr was jostled awake from his dream season by a unit that entered Sunday as one of the worst pass defenses in the league.
The Raiders’ quarterback lost three fumbles and threw a pick-six early in the third quarter. He recorded a season-low 70.1 passer rating before being replaced by Nate Peterman for most of the final period.
“Our fans and our organization deserve better than what we put on tape today,” he said after the 43-6 loss to the Falcons. “That was a bunch of trash.”
It was a nearly impossible disaster to predict considering the season Carr was having and the effort he was coming off last week. Despite a loss to Kansas City, he received the best grade of any quarterback all season in that game by Pro Football Focus.
Even though Carr said the Raiders didn’t have their best week of practice, he didn’t see Sunday’s collapse coming.
Nobody could, particularly against a Falcons team that had surrendered at least 299 yards passing in eight of its first 10 games this season.
Sunday, Carr finished 22 of 34 for 215 yards for just 6.3 yards per attempt. The only other time this season an opponent failed to eclipse that number against the Falcons was the Chicago Bears’ combination of Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles at 6.2 in Week 3.
“I have to make the corrections,” Carr said. “There were two or three throws where it was just like, ‘I don’t do that.“ But I have to live with that all week. That’s what I earned today.”
It certainly wasn’t all on Carr. The running game was almost non-existent and there were protection issues to go along with the kind of silly penalties the Raiders have been able to avoid for most of the season.
Las Vegas was also without its third-down back, Jalen Richard, who missed the game with an injury.
“We had issues everywhere,” coach Jon Gruden said. “It didn’t help when Jalen was scratched. Not making any excuses for playing with some linemen who were moved around. There’s plenty of excuses we can make, but I credit Atlanta.”
Gruden said the tone was set when the Raiders were stuffed on a fourth-and-1 when they tried a toss sweep to Josh Jacobs in the first quarter. The Falcons converted a field goal and then the Raiders allowed a strip sack on their next offensive snap, with Atlanta converting it into three more points and a 6-0 lead.
“I think it started there,” Gruden said. “I think the turnover at the end of the first half when we’re moving the ball and going to get some points. Then the third quarter. It wasn’t good. It snowballed on us today. I’ve seen it happen before. It can’t again.”
It was the first time a Raiders quarterback turned the ball over four times since Matt McGloin did it five times against the Chiefs in 2013. Carr now has a league-high 31 lost fumbles since entering the league in 2014
While some quarterback fumbles are unavoidable, Carr said he practices holding onto the ball in traffic to limit the turnovers.
“That’s the frustrating part,” he said. “We always talk about two hands on the ball. I had two hands on the ball on the first one. He literally just hit right on the forearm and the ball slipped out of my hands. Literally the other two were as I was throwing and I never saw them.”
Gruden said he thinks there were plays to be made throughout the game that were just missed, though he has to wait to see the film to be sure.
Carr agreed. He believes a few critical mistakes were the difference in getting blown out and making it a game.
They also came to a consensus that they can’t allow these things to happen again. Gruden doesn’t believe it will.
“This is the National Football League,” he said. “It’s a tough business. He’s been through a lot and he’ll be fine. We’ve just got to regroup. We’ve got to get on the plane and get ready for the next one.”
Carr and Gruden hope Sunday’s performance stays in Atlanta.