Derek Carr's three interceptions stall Raiders in opening loss to Rams

Scott Bair
NBC Sports BayArea

OAKLAND -- Derek Carr threw for 303 yards Monday night. He completed 72 percent of his passes, with 7.3 yards per attempt.

That stat line suggests the Raiders quarterback had a good night, and that the offense was humming.

Not this time, not in a 33-13 loss to the Rams at Oakland Coliseum.

"I thought he did some good things tonight, but there are some critical errors that we have to eliminate," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. "He knows that. I know that. We all know that."

A total of three interceptions were the critical errors Gruden referenced, and they all led to trouble. Carr's first came in the end zone, as the Raiders were driving to score. The second looked awful, and came out of Carr's hand funny when he tried to pull a pass back and avoid throwing it. The last was a pick six by Marcus Peters, when Carr and tight end Jared Cook weren't on the same page.

The Rams scored 13 points off Carr turnovers. The first interception took points off the board, as the Raiders were in field-goal range at the very least.

Carr threw perfect passes on several occasions, but the turnovers got the Raiders in trouble. The fifth-year pro knows well those mistakes can't happen.

"We do have corrections to make," Carr said. "You see teams have Week 1 mistakes, no matter who much you rep a certain play. Moving forward, we will be better. I'll take care of the ball better and make better throws and decisions. We're going to be a good team."

Gruden and Carr communicated well Monday night, with a relatively smooth process of relaying plays to Carr with enough time for him to make the right checks. Those mechanics went smooth.

The process of getting Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson involved did not. Carr said those two often were double-teamed, frequently leaving tight end Jared Cook open in the middle of the field. He finished with nine catches for 180 yards.

Nelson and Cooper, however, combined for four catches and 32 yards. That won't cut it, and ultimately led to the Raiders' offense losing momentum as the night progressed.

"They wanted to take both wideouts out," Carr said. "Not only did they have Peters and Talib on those guys, but they were double-teaming them with a safety. They created a box to contain them. That's why Jared had a big game. We had no problem seeing what they were doing. If a coverage looks a certain way, we have other options."

Carr knows he must be better for the Raiders to succeed. He's their most important player, especially now that the defense carries on without Khalil Mack. Three turnovers all leading to Rams points hurt the Raiders, though it wasn't the only issue. They were routinely penalized in the first half, including four holding calls and three false starts.

The Raiders had some good moments, especially in the first half. But they lost all momentum in the second, and those major mistakes will be the focal point of a lackluster offensive showing.

"Some of the good things will be overlooked because of the bad stuff, and that's a shame," Carr said. "We did some good things. The score doesn't dictate how the game went."

***

Carr broke down all three of his interceptions and what went wrong on each one. Here's the QB's insight on each:

Interception No. 1 (Target: Jared Cook, in the end zone; pick by John Johnson): "I just made a bad throw. We had Jared Cook one-on-one, and we all know what he can do. I just made a bad throw."

Interception No. 2 (Target: Jordy Nelson near the Rams' 40-yard line; pick by Cory Littleton): "I went to the right side, and they buzzed underneath the route, so I came back and went to throw it away. I wanted to give another route a chance, but I saw somebody step in the way, so I tried to draw it back with my hand, and that's why it looked so terrible. He just floated out there and landed in the guy's lap. You sit there and say, ‘That's one of the dumbest plays you can ever have.' I knew what I should've done as soon as the play was over. It was disappointing to have it end up that way."

Interception No. 3 (Target: Jared Cook near midfield; pick six by Marcus Peters): "The cornerback was running with Jared, and I thought he was going to keep running. I saw where he sat on the route, and I threw the ball out in front of him, and the guy ended up getting a gift. Those are the interceptions where Jared and I will look over the play and make sure we're on the same page and get it better the next time."

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