OAKLAND — After Marshawn Lynch’s best day as an Oakland Raider catapulted the club to a 24-17 win over the New York Giants and into a tie for first place in the AFC West on Sunday afternoon, Derek Carr had just one thing to say.
“Oowee,” Carr exclaimed as he took the podium for his postgame news conference.
In concert with the tail-spinning Kansas City Chiefs losing for the sixth time in seven weeks and the Los Angeles Chargers handling the Cleveland Browns, the trio of teams are now locked atop the division at 6-6. The Raiders visit the Chiefs next Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
“The NFL. [It’s] crazy,” Carr said when asked to explain the revival after an early-season four-game slide.
“You’ve got to stay the course,” Carr continued. “There’s a lot of adversity that happens every season. You wish you could win them all and do it in a good way but that just hasn’t been our road this year.”
Lynch, who also had 20 receiving yards, produced his first 100-yard rushing day since October of 2015. The Oakland native bulldozed his way to 80 yards in the first half — his highest single game total as a Raider — ending the day with 101 yards.
Lynch helped the Raiders gain separation on the opening drive of the closing quarter, hauling in a 21-yard catch from Carr. The screen pass to Lynch gave the Raiders a first down and facilitated the nine-yard rushing touchdown for DeAndre Washington, pushing the lead to 17-7.
“He kind of went Beast Mode there and went through a couple of defenders,” Del Rio said. “It was really good stuff.”
The Giants immediately answered back as Geno Smith orchestrated a nine-play, 88-yard drive, punctuated by a 10-yard strike to Evan Engram.
Cordarrelle Patterson made sure the lead quickly ballooned back to 10, escaping for a 59-yard burst down the Giants’ sideline. Patterson’s splash led to a nine-yard touchdown for Johnny Holton and a 24-14 lead with 3:23 to go on the clock.
A Holton fumble foiled the best opportunity the Raiders sputtering offense had in the third quarter. With the Raiders on the visitor’s side of the 50-yard line, Carr found Holton for a 14-yard connection before the wide receiver fumbled, allowing the Giants to take over at the 27-yard.
Carr had never worried that Holton would be leaking confidence after the miscue.
“He’s going to be the same — touchdown, fumble — he’s going to be the same guy,” Carr explained.
“He’s just a dawg, man,” Carr said. “He just wants to play football.”
The Raiders had taken a 10-7 lead into the half, even as Carr played a quarterback whose top two targets were suspended (Michael Crabtree) and concussed (Amari Cooper). Carr tallied 80 yards, connecting on 10-of-18 passes and averaging 4.4 yards per completion.
After that suspect start — featuring a seven-yard first quarter — Carr concluded the day with 287 yards through the air.
“I don’t care how we win,” Carr said of his disjoined day. “I just want to win.”
A week after delivering Oakland’s first interception, NaVorro Bowman was again at the center of a momentum-shifting play. With the Giants driving just inside the nine-minute mark in the second, Bowan scooped up a fumble at the 31-yard after Bruce Irvin stripped Smith
The Irvin strip sack and Bowman recovery set up a 39-yard field goal for Giorgio Tavecchio, giving the Raiders a 10-7 edge.
On the Giants’ final drive of the half, Khalil Mack produced a strip sack of his own, hammering Smith at the 11-yard line
The Raiders had wasted no time sprinting ahead of the Giants, as Lynch barged through the New York defense for a 51-yard score on the third offensive play. Lynch’s rush marked his longest as a Raider.
“It was, obviously, an explosive play,” Del Rio said.
“It was a great job executing the play and him hitting it and him taking it to the house,” the head coach added. “So, it was awesome for us to get that start.”
After managing just a pair of scores in the first seven weeks, the veteran running back had four touchdowns in as many games since returning from his one-game ban.
“When he came back from the suspension, I’ve just seen a little bit more pep in his step,” Del Rio said. “I mean, I can’t speak for him. I just know what I see. It’s been good. I welcome it and we’re taking full advantage of it.”
In John Pagano’s first two weeks as the Raiders top defensive coach, he’s spoken repeatedly about his desire for the defense to play fast. That’s just what the group did against the Giants, forcing a trio of three-and-outs to open the afternoon. The Giants finally secured a first down — courtesy of a neutral zone infraction — on their fourth drive.