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Derek Carr magic fizzles out with fumble into end zone

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Cowboys find a way past the Raiders (1:31)

Despite Dak Prescott's up-and-down night -- one touchdown on the ground and two interceptions -- the Cowboys fend off the Raiders 20-17. (1:31)

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Derek Carr surveyed the field.

It was third-and-3 at the Dallas 8-yard line and muscle memory kicked in. The Oakland Raiders quarterback, under duress, rolled to his right and sprinted to the right pylon.

He picked up the first down, but in stretching for the pylon and in getting hit by Cowboys safety Jeff Heath, he fumbled the ball. And because it went through the end zone, it was a touchback; the Cowboys got possession with 31 seconds on the clock.

Cowboys 20, Raiders 17.

Even with a partial return of that vaunted Carr magic from 2016, when he engineered seven comeback wins in the fourth quarter or overtime, it wasn't enough on Sunday night.

Alas, after having picked up just 52 yards of offense with two minutes to go in the first half, it was too little, too late.

Indeed, it was a card trick -- a piece of paper, really -- that helped decide the Cowboys' victory in the Raiders' regular-season home finale. Referee Gene Steratore pulled out a folded piece of paper to measure to see if the nose of the football had reached the first-down chain marker after a Cowboys fourth-and-1 play at the Dallas 39-yard line with about 5 minutes to play.

Dallas was awarded the first down and continued its drive for an eventual game-winning field goal.

And it was inches that decided Carr's game-sealing fumble that dropped the Raiders' season record to 6-8.

Earlier in the game, Carr began using his legs like he had not done since suffering a soul- and season-crushing broken right ankle in Week 16 last season. He lowered his head and ran upfield, and then, downfield.

Thirty-two yards later, Carr had his longest run since his rookie season of 2014 and a key first down, and then finally, mercifully, exhaled as he took a knee and signaled a first down.

This was the Carr the Raiders had invested that gargantuan five-year, $125 million contract extension in this past offseason: a fearless field general who inspired not only his teammates, but the fans. Not a skittish pocket passer who was content to throw a 3-yard pass on third-and-5.

Carr finished with 171 yards passing in completing 21 of 38 attempts.

Some of that old Carr magic? He has two touchdown passes against the blitz on Sunday, after having had one against the blitz in his previous six games combined.

He also became just the ninth quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 100 TDs in 60 games, joining Dan Marino (145), Johnny Unitas (111), Andrew Luck (111), Matthew Stafford (108), Kurt Warner (106), Peyton Manning (105), Aaron Rodgers (104) and Carson Palmer (101).

Plus, Carr joined Ken Stabler (150), Daryle Lamonica (148) and Rich Gannon (114) as the fourth Raiders QB to throw at least 100 TD passes.