OAKLAND -- After the gloom had settled over Oakland Coliseum and the Raiders' locker room late Sunday afternoon, there stood one hopeful beacon at his stall.
The lights of the gathering cameras were blinding, but quarterback Matt McGloin did not blink. At least not outwardly. Because with Derek Carr lost indefinitely with a broken fibula in his right leg, Raider Nation turns its lonely eyes to McGloin as Oakland preps for its first playoff appearance since 2002.
“I’m ready to go,” McGloin said, matter of factly. “I feel great, and it has been great working with Derek Carr the past few years and working together and seeing what he has done on the field trying to learn from that. I’m ready to go.
“I know this team, these guys around me, this staff. This organization will do a great job of helping me out and embracing me, just making sure we continue to move in the right direction.”
McGloin has started six games in his career, though none since his rookie season of 2013, and he appeared in one series this season on Nov. 27, when Carr dislocated his right pinkie in two places against the Carolina Panthers.
Carr has a much stronger arm than McGloin, who's generously listed at 6-foot-1, two inches shorter than Carr.
McGloin will have the same explosive weapons around him, as well as the same punishing offensive line. But McGloin will have to really work on his chemistry with the Raiders' offense.
“You are still practicing, coming in early and leaving late,” McGloin said. “I always prepare as if I am a starter, and now I am going to continue and do the same thing. Keep my regimen the same, stay focused, stay ready and try to play to the best of my ability.”
For what it’s worth, McGloin, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, has been in Oakland longer than Carr.
“He’s a great quarterback,” said Raiders second-year receiver Amari Cooper, not one to dabble in hyperbole. “I really like him. I’m excited to see what he’s going to do. I’m excited to see how he prepares. Just excited to go out there and be able to work whatever to help him come back and play in games.
“The biggest thing about him that sticks out is just, he’s a competitor.”
In the Raiders’ bittersweet 33-25 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, Carr was injured early in the fourth quarter, and McGloin passed the ball only three times. But he completed two of his attempts for 29 yards.
McGlion's big completion sealed the game: a 19-yard sideline toss to Cooper on third-and-8 from the Raiders’ 27-yard line with 2:22 left in the game. The third-down conversion enabled Oakland to kneel on the ball and run out the clock.
“In a situation like that, you want to get the first down,” McGloin said. “You’re going for the first down. We don’t want to exactly play it safe. We wanted to get the first down and take a knee to end the game right there.
“Obviously, [I wasn't] having a ton of opportunities to play with Amari Cooper and that first unit, but I know the types of routes he runs, and can trust him in big-time situations. The offensive line did a tremendous job of protection, and Amari went up and made a terrific catch.”
So it’s something to build upon going forward for the playoff-bound Raiders, who improved to 12-3 and can earn a first-round bye and home playoff game with a victory at the Denver Broncos on New Year’s Day. Oakland also can clinch that bye and home playoff game if the Broncos beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.
In McGloin's career, he has passed for 1,847 yards while completing 155 of 266 passes (58.3 percent) with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 12 games. His last start came in Week 16 of the 2013 season.
He is 1-5 as a starter, beating the Houston Texans in his first career start.
Carr, before going down, was a leading NFL MVP candidate after passing for 3,933 yards with 28 TDs and six INTs this season.
“It’s definitely going to be hard,” Raiders left tackle Donald Penn said. “Our MVP of the team, the MVP of the league, is hurt right now. It’s going to be a big spot to fill, but we’ve got to do it.
“Next man up. It ain’t going to stop us. So we’ve got to find a way to just keep this thing going, because it’s going good ... we’ve got a lot of faith in Matt. We’re going to rally.”
Enter McGloin, who has been champing at the bit since losing the starting gig to Terrelle Pryor at the end of the 2013 season and then to Carr at the start of the 2014 season.
But McGloin is a survivor.
“It is a difficult situation,” McGloin said of seeing Carr fall to injury. “First and foremost, he is a very good friend of mine, and it is tough to see him go down and get hurt. He has been having such an incredible season, and to see him go down like that was tough. At the same time, I’ve got to try my best to stay calm, stay poised, stay focused and do my job.”
Which is what he tried to accomplish when he entered the game.
“You know we have a great group of guys on the offensive staff, on the offensive line, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends,” McGloin said. “They all just did a great job of embracing me when I entered the game, and they helped me stay calm. We have each other’s back, and we just tried to finish the game.”
Now, they all try to finish a season that was full of promise.