Derek Carr Stakes Legitimate MVP Case for Red-Hot Raiders in Win over Panthers

Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, the Oakland Raiders defense surrendered four touchdowns in a 13-minute span. Early in the fourth quarter, the Raiders were devoid of momentum after choking on a 24-7 lead. They couldn't run the ball with any effectiveness, and their star quarterback, Derek Carr, was dealing with an injured finger on his throwing hand. 

Yet the Raiders scored the final 11 points of the game to win 35-32, marking their fifth straight victory and Carr's second fourth-quarter comeback win in a seven-day span. 

Just like last week, when Carr was nearly perfect in the final quarter as the Raiders stormed back from a 20-13 deficit to beat the Houston Texans 27-20 in Mexico City, the third-year quarterback led Oakland to victory in a game it almost certainly would have lost in previous seasons. 

The mistake-prone, talent-starved, uninspiring 2003-2015 Raiders—teams that posted zero winning records in a 13-year span—would have curled up in the fetal position upon surrendering 25 unanswered points. But this team is different, primarily because Carr is proving himself to be a special quarterback. 

The 2014 second-round pick out of Fresno State entered Sunday with a 119.2 fourth-quarter/overtime passer rating, which ranked No. 1 among starting quarterbacks. And he had already led four fourth-quarter comebacks, which ranked second to only Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions. 

Last week against Houston, he completed five of his six fourth-quarter passes, with four going for 29-plus yards and two resulting in touchdowns. 

This week against Carolina, he completed eight of his 11 passes in the final quarter for 116 yards, leading two scoring drives and a third that ran out the clock in order to preserve the three-point victory. 

He did all that despite the fact the Panthers probably knew what was coming, since Oakland ...

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