ALAMEDA, Calif. -- You want to talk about freak plays?
Look at the play that ended not only Derek Carr's season, but any realistic shot the Oakland Raiders had at making a playoff run last season. It's a play that Donald Penn, the Raiders' Pro Bowl left tackle, has yet to get over -- even if Carr's right fibula is healed and the franchise quarterback has been running all over the field as a full participant in OTAs.
"You have to be an athlete," Penn said recently. "You try not to think about it too much. You wish you could go back and get it back.
"I should have been able to do something better ... I should have blocked him and held on to him and taken him down with me. That play sticks with me. I'm going to try to do what I can do better and make sure it never happens again. I've never gotten a quarterback hurt in my life since I've been playing. That was a first. That's something I take pride in. I'm going to try my hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen again."
It was on 2nd-and-18 with more than 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts on Christmas Eve. The Raiders were holding a 33-14 lead when Carr dropped back to pass and rolled to his right.
Penn was engaged with Trent Cole behind Carr when both of Penn's feet went out from under him. Cole went down to the grass, too. But Carr, trying to extend the play, scrambled back to his left into the grasp of a diving Cole and was twisted down to the ground, his leg snapping in the process.
"It's broken," Carr mouthed on the field.
Matt McGloin took over for Carr and was benched in a season-finale loss at the Denver Broncos in favor of rookie Connor Cook, who had never dressed before that final game. Cook was then tabbed the starter for the Raiders' first playoff game since the 2002 season.
Oakland, which finished 12-4, lost as the wild card at the Houston Texans. A day later, Carr talked about reaching out to Penn.
"I said, 'Bro, that's a freak thing,'" Carr said at the time. "How many times have I been hit? Quarterbacks are hit every week. Sometimes those things happen, sometimes they don't. I've gone my whole life with nothing like that ever happening.
"I just gave him a hug and said, 'Man, I love you, bro. It's never going to change.' I said, 'I'm not mad at you. It wasn't your fault. That happened for a reason.'"
It was the lone sack Penn, who turned 34 on April 27, was charged with giving up all season.
A left knee injury, though, ended Penn's consecutive games streak at 161, as he missed the playoff game at Houston as well as the Pro Bowl.
"Everything happens for a reason," said Penn, who is entering the second year of a two-year deal that will pay him $6.1 million this season. "Last year, that play was crazy. Something happened for a reason. Maybe the reason is that it wasn't our year last year. Maybe this year will be our year. That play was a fluke play on my part. I slipped out of nowhere and he got hurt. He has gotten tackled like that plenty of times and never gotten hurt. It was a fluke.
"I'm all about karma and stuff like that. Maybe He's trying to tell us that this is our year. We have to put in the work to get it. I know D.C. is happy, I'm dang sure to get him back. We’re growing and masterminding this offense trying to make it as explosive as possible."