OAKLAND — A year after entering November in search of their first win, Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders are right in contention in the AFC.
Carr threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns to help Oakland pick apart the New York Jets’ vaunted defense in a 34-20 victory Sunday that put the Raiders in the thick of the playoff race.
Carr’s rapid development from an up-and-down rookie season is one of the biggest reasons the Raiders (4-3) have gone from a team that lost its first 10 games last year to one that has a winning record this late in the season for the first time since 2011.
“We want more,” Carr said. “We’re not satisfied with ‘We’re over .500.’ We’re not satisfied with that. I’m not built that way.”
Latavius Murray ran for 113 yards, Andre Holmes caught two touchdown passes and Michael Crabtree had 102 yards receiving and a score. Taiwan Jones added his first career score on a tackle-breaking 59-yard catch and run that exposed a New York defense that had been outstanding the first six games.
Charles Woodson chipped in with his fifth interception and celebrated with the fans, hopeful the Raiders can finally end a 12-year run of no winning records or playoff berths.
“The last couple of years have been rough,” Woodson said. “It feels good to be on the other side. It feels good to get the ball. It feels good to go play to the crowd when your team is playing well. There’s no feeling like it in the world.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick left with a torn left thumb ligament on the opening drive for the Jets (4-3), who have lost two straight games. Former starter Geno Smith threw for 265 yards and two TD passes in his first action since losing the job in training camp after getting punched in the locker room by teammate IK Enemkpali.
Smith then left in the closing minute on a hard hit by Ray-Ray Armstrong after being drilled earlier in the fourth quarter by David Amerson on a long run down the sideline. Fitzpatrick returned despite the injury and threw two passes before Smith returned. Fitzpatrick will have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
“Unfortunately just couldn’t really grip the ball, couldn’t really do anything with pressure,” he said.
After scoring on the first seven drives in last week’s 37-29 win at San Diego, the Raiders were once again almost perfect on offense at the start. Carr threw touchdown passes on the first drives as the Raiders controlled the line of scrimmage and broke numerous tackles in the secondary.
Carr was helped out by his receivers making big gains after the catch with Crabtree breaking tackles from Demario Davis, Cromartie and Marcus Williams on his 36-yard touchdown and Jones running around and through half the Jets defense on his long score.
“We probably had something like over 20-something missed tackles,” defensive back Antonio Cromartie said. “That’s something that we can’t do. When you have the missed tackles, penalties and giving up long touchdowns, you’re automatically going to lose that game.”
But Carr also showed the ability to throw the deep ball, connecting on a 49-yarder to Holmes that made it 21-3 late in the first half. Carr now has seven TD passes and no interceptions the past two weeks.
“We have a lot of weapons and we have a lot of hungry guys,” Crabtree said. “A lot of guys want the ball, a lot of guys want to get that extra yard, and it’s helping us. We’re feeding each other and trying to get the win.”
The Raiders also shut down the Jets running game. Chris Ivory, who came in averaging more than 100 yards a game, was held to 17 yards on 15 carries behind a line missing starting center Nick Mangold.
NOTES: Carr joined Rich Gannon (2002) and Jeff Hostetler (1994) as the only Raiders QBs since the merger to throw for 300 or more yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. … After having 15 takeaways the first five games, the Jets got none for a second straight week. … Jets WR Brandon Marshall has an injured toe on one foot and ankle on the other.