Las Vegas Raiders are 3-0, and Derek Carr is a legit MVP candidate

    Derek Carr threw for 386 yards, and after a 31-28 overtime victory over the Miami Dolphins, has the Las Vegas Raiders sitting at 3-0.

    Derek Carr haters are awfully quiet these days. No quarterback this side of Baker Mayfield is more aware of what’s said about him, but Carr is shutting each one of those critics up with a remarkable start to the 2021 season. After another monster game in the Las Vegas Raiders’ 31-28 overtime victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Carr has forced his way into early MVP talk.

    Derek Carr lights up the Miami Dolphins

    Carr blitzed the Dolphins for 386 yards and 2 touchdowns and made the throw of the game in overtime that was probably the difference. On 2nd-and-15 from his own 20 with the game tied at 28, Carr dropped a marvelous pass through defenders and into the grasp of Bryan Edwards. The play went for 34 yards, eventually setting up Daniel Carlson’s game-winning field goal, and bailed out a Raiders defense that blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead. Carr finished overtime 3-of-6 for 82 yards.

    “Derek played an outstanding game,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said.

    More than that, Carr is playing his best football in 2021. He’s averaging 401 passing yards per game and has 6 touchdowns on the season. But he’s been better than he gets credit for in recent years.

    Carr’s thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of the past three seasons and has had a passer rating under 90 just once in the last five. The Raiders’ offense was good enough to make the playoffs last year. The defense was not.

    And there were definitely some ghosts from Raiders-Dolphins past floating around Vegas’ opulent home stadium late Sunday. The Dolphins pulled off a miraculous win there in 2020’s penultimate game and nearly did it again nine months later.

    Jacoby Brissett revived a dormant Miami offense with 11 points in the last 8:30 of regulation — including an ankle-breaking fourth-down touchdown run with two seconds left in the fourth quarter.

    Raiders’ balanced attack

    Still, the Dolphins’ defense just had no answer for Carr, who has an elite set of pass catchers at his disposal. Edwards had 89 yards on 3 catches, Henry Ruggs went for 78 on 4, and Hunter Renfrow chipped in 77 receiving yards of his own.

    “When we can spread the ball around, we’re at our best,” Renfrow said.

    Gruden added, “I’m always going to be confident in those guys. We were confident on draft day. They have to keep taking advantage of their at-bats.”

    They’ll need to keep pace in a very surprising AFC West. The Broncos won again to improve to 3-0, and the Chargers stunned the Chiefs to move to 2-1. We’re living in the upside-down when the Raiders make clutch plays late while the Chiefs are in the last place of their division.

    Dolphins gave Carr another shot with OT field goal

    Meanwhile, the AFC East is going as most expected. The Bills are alone atop the division after a second-straight convincing win. Whereas the Dolphins and Patriots have shown their warts with two losses in three weeks.

    Brian Flores’ club showed some guts Sunday without starter Tua Tagovailoa. Perhaps he should have shown a little bit more courage of his own instead of settling for a field goal on 4th-and-2 on the Dolphins’ lone overtime possession.

    The kick was good and tied the game, but all it did was give Carr one more chance to prove all of his doubters wrong.

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