Genesis of a 64-yard touchdown run

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Genesis of a 64-yard touchdown run

OAKLAND -- As Carson Palmer settled under center for the Raiders' fourth snap of the game, after three passes, he sensed a blitz coming from the left side. The Raiders had planned on going that way."So Carson says, 'Hey, let's run it right,'" recalled center Stefen Wisniewski. "We run it right, we seal off the blitz on the left and it's six points."The Raiders scoring on a 64-yard Darren McFadden touchdown run represented more than their first points in Sunday's 34-31 defeat of Pittsburgh.The play meant more than Oakland's run game finally breaking a long one and McFadden showing his open-field skills in juking safety Ryan Mundy out of his jockstrap and outrunning cornerback Keenan Lewis, who had the angle, to the right pylon, though that was huge for all involved."Oh, that was exciting," Wisniewski said. "We knew he was capable of that. All year it hasn't happened. First time, we get him up clean to the safety, he makes the safety miss (and) as soon as he made the safety miss, I was like, He's scoring. No one's catching that guy.RELATED: Run DMC walks this way, runs the other to 113 yards
"That's a great feeling as an O-lineman to see him running for a long touchdown."Indeed, the genesis of the score also showed Palmer's ability to improvise at the line, and garner confidence from his teammates.Even as McFadden thought the call was the original play sent in. That's how big the hole, created between Wisniewski and left guard Cooper Carlisle, was and how tuned in Palmer was to make the audible."He's awesome," Wisniewski said. "It's a huge advantage because we know he's going to put us in the right play."Palmer, though, was quick to divvy out credit to offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, saying the Raiders were in a "no-huddle series" during the possession."Coach Knapp had coached us up on what to get to versus certain fronts, certain coverages, certain pressures," Palmer said. "And we got them in the right pressure that Coach Knapp had talked about all week and Darren, the offensive line obviously opened up a nice hole, but Darren did the rest."

Multiple ways for Raiders to clinch playoff berth in Week 14

Multiple ways for Raiders to clinch playoff berth in Week 14

The Raiders can clinch a playoff spot this weekend. That sentence hasn’t been uttered since late 2011, and that season didn’t end so well.

There’s a far greater chance this one will. The Silver and Black sit atop the AFC and their own division, with significant space between them and other contenders for the conference’s final wild card spot. There’s three games space with four to play and, according to the NFL, the Raiders can lock up a playoff spot with a victory over Kansas City on Thursday and a little help.

Here are the scenarios where the Raiders can clinch a playoff spot this weekend:

1. Raiders win + Miami loss
2. Raiders win + Denver loss

There are two other scenarios that involve ties, but we won’t focus on those rare instances.

A victory on Thursday is all that will consume the Raiders focus. A loss would put them back in their own division, behind a Kansas City team that would own a tiebreaker based upon a season sweep.
 

Raiders pleased with Derek Carr’s maturity, focus under national spotlight

Raiders pleased with Derek Carr’s maturity, focus under national spotlight

ALAMEDA – The Raiders started 0-10 and finished 3-13 in Derek Carr’s rookie year. Near that season’s merciful end, but a handful of local reporters attended his postgame press conferences.

There was little interest in that 2014 squad for obvious reasons, especially after Dennis Allen was fired and the Raiders played out a long string of losses. There was some interest in rookie starters Carr and Khalil Mack, but nothing like there is today.

The Raiders are 10-2. Carr is an MVP candidate. The Silver and Black might be the most entertaining team in football, with their penchant for drama and epic comebacks.

Carr used to play for a thin crowd. Now it’s a packed house. That was the case after Sunday’s 38-24 comeback win over Buffalo.

Now this isn’t Dallas or New York. The body count isn’t quite that high, but interest in this team and its quarterback has certainly spiked.

“It’s an exciting time in Oakland, for our fans. It’s really exciting,” Carr said on Sunday night. “Look how many people are in here now. I remember my rookie year, it was like ‘eh.’”

“This is definitely a fun time. We’ve come a long way as everyone here knows and has been with us. We’ve come a long way, we’re enjoying it.”

Wins draw attention in the nation’s most popular sport, and Carr is getting plenty of it as his legend grows.

Everybody, it seems, wants a piece of the next big thing. Carr’s on the ESPN the Magazine cover. He’s been featured on national halftime shows and syndicated radio programs. Many outlets are begging Raiders public relations to let them watch film with Carr and coordinator Bill Musgrave, to get inside the mind of one cerebral quarterback.

The spotlight will be hot all week, heading into highly anticipated Thursday night game against the rival Kansas City Chiefs for control of the AFC West.

Carr’s natural inclination is to accommodate, but the Raiders would like to insulate him some as the attention mounts.

“When the games get bigger, there are more people around,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “You’ve got to protect your time. You’ve got to protect your preparation time. You have to protect the time you get with your family.

“I just think he’s mature. He’s a young player. He’s maturing and that’s probably the thing that I’m most pleased with. Obviously, the productivity is awesome, but the way he has conducted himself, the maturity, the handling it, continuing to heap praise on his teammates, to make it more about us, not about anything he’s doing individually. It’s more about us as a team. I think that’s really healthy for us.”

Carr keeps the focus on others whenever possible and shrugs off MVP talk at every turn.

It’s not just a rise in coverage. Ticket requests go up, as do outside demands on time Carr would rather spend with family or working on his craft. He has learned how and when to say no during this crazy time of year.

“I’m trying to learn as we go through it how to say no and things like that and I think I’m getting pretty good at it now and how to tell people no,” he said. “Because, everyone just wants a piece of what’s going on. They didn’t much want a piece of it when we were 3-13, you know? So, you can really have that inner circle of people you really love and you can trust and you’re just kind to everybody else.”