Derek Carr won the starting quarterback job for the Oakland Raiders in part based on how well he played in the preseason against Seattle.
Now Carr gets a chance to match up Sunday with the defending Super Bowl champions when the games really count in a test he knows will be much tougher than the one he faced back in August.
Carr threw three touchdown passes in the final exhibition game against the Seahawks, showing off the strong arm and fearless attitude that convinced the coaching staff to hand the starting job to a rookie instead of veteran Matt Schaub.
“It's so different,” Carr said Wednesday. “It is. That game, it was preseason game No. 4. That's where it ends. There's nothing to be said after that about playing them. This is the defending Super Bowl champs at their house with great players all over the filed. It will be a challenge.”
Carr started that game back in August while Schaub nursed a sore elbow. He came out firing, attacking one of the NFL's most feared defenses on a touchdown drive to open the game. He threw at All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman twice on the opening drive, including an 11-yard pass to Denarius Moore on third-and-10 to set up the TD.
Carr added three touchdown TD passes against Seattle's reserves and hasn't given up the starting job since.
Just like in that exhibition game, Carr has shown no hesitation about throwing at top cornerbacks, throwing at Darrelle Revis, Jonathan Joseph and Patrick Peterson during the regular season.
“He's just been slinging the ball around,” Sherman said. “I don't think he thinks about who's guarding anybody or anything like that. He just slings it. He's got nothing to lose, obviously.”
Sherman called Carr a “gunslinger” who isn't afraid to take shots down field and has done a good job protecting the ball. That will be at a premium on Sunday when the Raiders (0-7) must contend with Seattle's tough defense as well as one of the NFL's loudest crowds in Seattle.
Carr said he has experience playing in front of loud crowds in college, pointing to games at Oregon and Wisconsin specifically. He said he will use hand signals and silent counts when needed but will still be able to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
“You have a plan for it but it's not something that you spend all your time worrying about because it's just football,” Carr said. “You go out there, we've done silent all year, we've done hand signals all year. I've heard it gets really loud and I'm sure it will get really loud. We'll just go out and do what we've been taught to do.”
Carr has fared well as a rookie despite failing to earn that first win. He has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,517 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions and an 82.0 passer rating.
Carr is tied for the most touchdown passes by a rookie in the first seven games of the season since the merger, joining Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Brandon Weeden and Sam Bradford with nine apiece.
“He's shown touch, he's shown strong arm stuff, he's shown way down the field stuff, he's moving well and he looks very comfortable,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He looks like a terrific prospect for the years to come and he's on it right now, he's got great numbers for the situation and I'm thinking he's darn good.”
NOTES: CB TJ Carrie practiced after leaving Sunday's game with an injured back. … CB Chimdi Chekwa was sidelined by a hamstring injury. … The Raiders signed S Larry Asante to add depth to a depleted secondary that has lost Tyvon Branch and Usama Young to season-ending injuries. … Asante replaces LB Bojay Filimoeatu on the 53-man roster. Filimoeatu was re-signed to the practice squad.