OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Derek Carr came back from an injured pinky to lead another fourth-quarter comeback and the Oakland Raiders won their fifth straight game, beating the Carolina Panthers 35-32 on Sunday.
Carr threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns despite missing a series after the injury, leading the Raiders (9-2) back from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to clinch their first winning season since 2002.
After leading a game-tying drive earlier in the fourth quarter, Carr hit Michael Crabtree on a 49-yard pass on third-and-9 from the 14 to help set up Sebastian Janikowski’s 23-yard field goal with 1:45 left that gave Oakland the lead.
Cam Newton led the Panthers (5-6) into Oakland territory on the final drive but Greg Olsen dropped a pass on third down that would have put Carolina in field goal range and Khalil Mack stripped Newton on a fourth-down sack to seal the win.
The Panthers scored the first 25 points in the second half after Carr left the game when he hurt his right pinky while fumbling a snap on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter.
Jonathan Stewart scored on short runs following Carr’s fumble and his interception to Thomas Davis when he returned. Newton hit two long touchdown passes, connecting on an 88-yarder to Ted Ginn Jr. and a 44-yarder to Kelvin Benjamin that made it 32-24 early in the fourth quarter.
But Carr did what he has done best by leading his team back despite needing a glove on his injured right hand and taking snaps solely out of the shotgun.
Carr led a 75-yard drive capped by a 12-yard pass to Clive Walford for his NFL-best 12th tying or go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. A 2-point conversion to Seth Roberts tied the game.
GOING FOR 2: After Denico Autry blocked the extra point following Carolina’s first TD in the third quarter, coach Ron Rivera went for 2 unsuccessfully after the next two touchdowns. Those missed points kept Oakland down only eight after Benjamin’s touchdown and the Raiders managed to tie it when they got the 2-point conversion after Walford’s score.
MACK’S MOMENT: Mack made a big play late in the first half when he fought off a block and leaped to intercept a short pass from Newton. He ran it in 6 yards for his first career touchdown , celebrating with a leap into the Black Hole. He ended the game by extending his sack streak to a career-best six games.
CAM THE LOBBYIST: After complaining earlier in the year about a lack of roughing the passer calls going his way, Newton was the beneficiary of a questionable one against Stacy McGee late in the first quarter. That helped jump-start Carolina’s offense as Jonathan Stewart ran 47 yards on the next play and Newton finished the drive with a 3-yard run , handing the ball to a young fan wearing a Panthers jersey .
SHORT-HANDED: Both teams were without key some key defensive players with Carolina LB Luke Kuechly missing the game with a concussion and pass rusher Mario Addison sitting with a foot injury. Oakland was without CB David Amerson (knee) and LB Perry Riley Jr. (hamstring). Panthers C Ryan Kalil (shoulder) also missed the game. Carolina then lost backup center Gino Gradkowski to a knee injury during the game and Oakland cornerback DJ Hayden left with a hamstring injury.