CARSON, Calif. -- "There's no pressure. There's no 'We'll be on the 1-yard line, and I won't give it to Marshawn [Lynch]. I’ll throw it.' None of that stuff." -- Derek Carr, upon signing his five-year, $125 million contract extension in June 2017.
The Oakland Raiders are running the risk of instigating an international incident next week in London unless they nip this potential Beast Mode problem in the bud -- one week after Marshawn Lynch was being lauded as a team leader.
But there is no doubt that Lynch was upset after he was used as a decoy by Jon Gruden and Carr on a play-action fake on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line late in the third quarter Sunday. But was he tweaked that he did not get the ball, or was the result, a Carr interception, his tipping point in the eventual 26-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers?
"I done seen it happen to me on the game's biggest stage," Lynch told ESPN. "Now it's happened in a regular-season game. It's alright, though."
But is it?
Sure, Lynch has all three of Oakland's rushing touchdowns this season. But a similar situation happened at Miami in Week 3, with the Raiders facing fourth-and-goal from the 1. Carr handed off to fullback Keith Smith, who had all of two carries in his four-year career. Smith was stuffed for no gain.
In fact, since the kickoff of that fateful (for Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks) Super Bowl XLIX, teams have thrown four times from the 1-yard line with Lynch on the field. Those passers, including Carr and his interception by Melvin Ingram, are 0-for-4 with two interceptions, per ESPN Stats & Information.
And guess who Lynch and the Raiders see next week in England? Yup, those same Seahawks. Blimey, mate.
"That's cute," Lynch said when told the 0-for-4 stat. "That's cute."
This, though, is downright ugly: Carr has thrown three interceptions on passes into the end zone this season, tied for most in the NFL. Carr had four such interceptions in his first four seasons combined.
After Carr tried to force a throw into double-coverage to tight end Derek Carrier after rolling to his left -- instead throwing it to Ingram -- an angered Lynch ripped off his own helmet as he stalked off the field.
He threw it in the air, then caught it. He faked like he was shooting baskets with it, then caught it. He put it back on his head and then, according to the team's radio broadcast, yelled at offensive coaches on the sideline.
Lynch did not play another down.
Gruden said the Raiders' having not thrown a pass in a goal-to-go situation prior to Sunday led to the call.
"And if it's not open, you throw it away, and it just didn't work out," Gruden said. "We expected to have a wide-open receiver on the play, and obviously, that will be second-guessed -- rightfully so. But we shouldn't have made that throw down there. I'll live to hand the ball off on the next play, possibly.
"I think the playcalling needs to improve. That's my job."
Carr is still trying to find himself in Gruden's offense: Is he the gunslinger he was two years ago before broken bones in his finger, leg and back, or is he the more conservative type needed in Gruden's West Coast offense?
"He's just trying so hard," Gruden said. "The call, certainly, [should be] to hand the ball there to Lynch because of what happened. First-and-goal at the 1, a play-pass, faking to Lynch has been a great call for a lot of years. But I think [Carr] just presses in some moments."
Carr stood by the call, even with the specter of his June 2017 words floating about. He said there was no way he would not hand the ball to Lynch from the 1-yard line.
"It was a good play that they covered," Carr said. "They did a great job. Because on film, it looked great, to be honest with you."
Carr said it was like the Chargers simply "fell into" making the play.
"Obviously, with Marshawn, we love to give him the ball and stuff like that, but we had shown some things, and they'd shown on film: This [pass] should be good," Carr said. "It didn't work out.
"You've got to throw a pass in there, or else they're going to all-out commit on him, and it's going to get stuffed."
But Lynch would certainly have liked the opportunity, you'd think.