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8:36PM

One game may have changed it all for Raiders

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — One game. One game that ended differently. One game that for the Oakland Raiders may have washed away dozens of games. One game that changed the hopes and vibes of a football team that of late always found way to lose, but on a Sunday that could turn out to be seminal — as well as memorable — found a way to win.

For nearly 58 minutes, the Oakland Raiders had been ahead or tied. Then, after an interception, the mistake the Raiders always seem destined to make, they trailed by three points. And a still loyal but all too realistic crowd at O.co Coliseum knew it the same old Raiders.

But the kid who threw the interception, Derek Carr, was thinking these Raiders were different. “I was just thinking, man, just give us a chance,” he said. “Please, Lord, give us a chance.”

He got that chance. The Raiders got that chance. With 26 seconds left, Carr connected with Seth Roberts in the south end zone, the Black Hole end zone. The Raiders, the hard-luck, how-are-they-going-to-screw-up-this-time Raiders, were winners, 37-33.

Carr is the second-year quarterback in whom the Raiders have placed their future. The choice appears to be brilliant. We know his background: the younger brother of David Carr, also a quarterback, also from Fresno State, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft by Houston.

But lineage is only so important. What would Derek do when he had to pull off the winning drive, had to be another Joe Montana or Ken Stabler or Tom Brady?

After Sunday, after the Raiders, who looked so bad a week ago in the opening game, evened their record at 1-1, we have a very good idea. He moved the Raiders 80 yards. On a hot day — it was 90 degrees by the Bay — Carr was properly cool, as successful QBs must be.

This after leaving last week’s game with a hand injury and leaving journalists to ask numerous questions about his condition that went unanswered by head coach Jack Del Rio.

“One week of people thinking I’m hiding something, or whatever,” said Del Rio. “It was a normal week. He threw the ball well and prepared hard. There was just a lot because he couldn’t finish last week … It’s a testament to his desire and willingness to do the extra things to get his body to recover.”

The Raiders, so steeped in nostalgia and, in the last decade, failure. The torch up on the plaza adjacent to the south stands is lighted each game — Sunday it was by the great lineman Art Thoms — to the memory of the late Al Davis. The frustrated fans who, declining in number, still show up at a stadium the team is threatening to desert. The thoughts of the way it used to be back in the 1970s and 80s, when the Raiders were the NFL’s bad guys, and Davis relished that concept.

Yet, sports are of the moment. The Raiders haven’t had a winning record in more than a decade, and after the 33-13 pummeling eight days earlier, you might have thought they never would have one. But the Del Rio influence cannot be underestimated. He came home, having grown up in neighboring Hayward, to restore the heart of a franchise he cheered for as a kid.

Now he has his first victory as a Raiders head coach, and although that was passed over because of the performance of Carr — 30 of 46 for 351 yards and three touchdowns, including the ultimate one — surely that meant something to contemplate.

“That was one heck of an effort,” said Del Rio, emphasizing the team rather than the individual. “I saw a lot of examples of guys really emptying their bucket, a phrase that says they really had given all they had — straining, not flinching in tough circumstances, finding a way.

“The head coach and the quarterback are the only two guys in the organization directly tied to wins and losses, and to see our young quarterback take our team down there to the end like that was special.”

Michael Crabtree, the receiver late of the 49ers, said “The quarterback stuck in their like everybody else. The offensive line did good. The running backs made extra plays. The wide receivers were out there doing all they can.”

Carr did what he had to do, especially after the interception with five minutes to play and the game tied, 30-30.

“I told the guys in the huddle to believe it,” said Carr. “We’ve done it a thousand times.”

In practice. Now they’ve done it a game. What a change.

11:02PM

S.F. Examiner: Stabler’s magical memories remain vivid

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

Oh those Oakland Raiders of the 1970s, talented and uninhibited, who, like the poem, would knock you ’round and upside down and laugh when they’d conquered and won. They seemed less a team of athletes than a group from central casting, characters but, when needed, full of character.

Ken Stabler, who died Thursday at 69 from colon cancer, was the perfect quarterback for those Raiders, someone who sensed how far he could push the rules and, in a manner of speaking, push his teammates — which was all the way to the top.

Read the full story here.

©2015 The San Francisco Examiner

10:56PM

Newsday (N.Y.): Memorable plays during Raiders days puts Ken Stabler on doorstep of Hall of Fame

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

Maybe it was all about timing. Ken Stabler played in an era dominated by Terry Bradshaw and Bob Griese.

Maybe it was all about location. Stabler might have been in the wrong place. He played on the "Left Coast," as Easterners say with a sneer.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015 Newsday. All rights reserved.

9:44AM

S.F. Examiner: Mum Raiders have draft options

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

The two men in charge of the Oakland Raiders threw shadows at a few media types on Friday. To no surprise. The subject was the upcoming NFL draft, and the team’s possible selection in the first round. Which will be a surprise until made.

Teams are built from the draft, we’re told. And from patience. Construction of the Great Wall of China seemingly was completed before construction of the Raiders, who for seasons have been putting things together brick by brick. And taking them apart in much the same manner.

Read the full story here.

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner

9:09AM

Raiders weren’t going to let Chiefs out of the deep end

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — That “O’’ in Oakland? No longer does it equal the Raiders’ win total for the year. The streak is over. The streak ended here, at the O.co Coliseum — maybe they should change it to the 1.co Coliseum — on a Thursday night of rain and success.

Go ahead and say it, the drought has ended, for Nor Cal, for the Raiders.

It was inevitable. The football, that is, not the downpour, although the forecasters said that too was coming. The way Raiders interim coach Tony Sparano said a win was coming.

Teams don’t go through a 16-game NFL schedule without a victory. Sure, the 2008 Detroit Lions did, but since the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs, an expansion doomed to failure by the system, the Lions were the only team.

Somehow, the Raiders were going to win one.

And they did against the Kansas City Chiefs, who had won their previous five games in a row and were tied for the AFC West lead.

They did by sweeping ahead 14-0 early in the second quarter. By letting that lead go and then, on a 9-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Derek Carr to James Jones in the closing minutes, going back in front and winning 24-20.

“We’d been getting close,” said Sparano, who was coaching his seventh game since replacing Dennis Allen. “We’d been getting better in practice. I saw a different look in this team.”

And now there’s a different look with their record. One win may not seem like much, but to the contrary it’s huge when you’ve lost 10 out of 10 for the season and cobble that to the six straight defeats that concluded last year.

Not since Nov. 17, 2013, 368 days if you’re counting, had Oakland come out ahead.

“Those losses had been hard,” said Carr. He took over as starter from the veteran Matt Schaub before the first game. So since last year at Fresno State, he was always on the losing side. Until Thursday.

There was unabated joy in the Raider locker room. Such yelling and shouting. It was as if they had won the Super Bowl, not merely a scheduled game. “All that frustration that we’ve gone through when something goes wrong at the end,” said linebacker Sio Moore.

Moore and rookie Khalil Mack, also winless as a pro, did a bit of unprofessional celebrating — in the Chiefs' backfield — slapping hands after sacking quarterback Alex Smith on the K.C. 48 with 28 seconds. But before a penalty could be called for delay of game, Oakland wisely signaled time out. One more play, an incomplete pass, and the Raiders owned the ball. And the win.

“I was so caught up in the moment, man,” said Moore, who’s in his second year. “That was an error I’ve got to clean because in another situation — in all seriousness — that can make the difference. I do apologize for putting the guys in that situation. I can’t let emotions get the best of me.”

For 10 weeks, teams have been getting the best of the Raiders, although the way Oakland played defense in losing 13-6 to the Chargers last Sunday was verification that they were improved — if without results. Until Thursday night.

“I don’t know how to explain the feeling,” Moore said about finally winning a game. “It’s a good feeling to see through the culmination of weeks all the work that we’ve been putting in.

“We decided when we came in at halftime (with a 14-3 lead) that we weren’t going to let them get out of deep end of the pool, and we were going to finish it out.”

The Chiefs made it to the shallow end, but then the Raiders swamped them again.

Oakland scored first on an impressive eight-play drive, Latavius Murray bulling the final 11 yards. Then Murray dashed 90 yards two and a half minutes into the second quarter, and Oakland had its first 14-0 lead since the Twelth of Never.

“They blocked us,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, “(he) hit the hole, and we just weren’t able to catch him.

From two touchdowns back, Kansas City did catch the Raiders, however, and the guess was it would yet another Oakland defeat. Not at all.

“We learned a little something today,” said Sparano. “Learned something about ourselves. Today they just refused to give up the rope. My hat is off to the people in that locker room. Greatest feeling in the world is to see them smile. Helluva bunch of guys. They don’t stop playing. We don’t always do it right, but they play hard.

“Today the offense took the football down the field and did it in the old-fashioned Raider way. They ran it. They ran it. And we made a big play. It was a heck of a thing to watch, and if you didn’t learn anything from it, I apologize to you.”

No apologies needed this time. Only kudos.

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