Despite blowout loss, Raiders find silver (and black) linings in strange week

LAS VEGAS -- Derek Carr, having already taken a shot to the nether regions that no doubt raised his voice a few octaves, was absolutely blasted in the back by Devin White as the Las Vegas Raiders' quarterback attempted to scramble for a first down.

White -- who had recently tweeted that the Raiders should have taken him, rather than Clelin Ferrell, with the No. 4 pick of the 2019 draft -- was credited with his third sack of the game on the play. And White, selected one pick later by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was joined by several teammates as they preened and posed, hooted and hollered on the Las Vegas sideline after the hit on Carr.

Forget the 45-20 blowout final score. This scene was the one that showed how physically dominant Tampa Bay was on the day.

And yet ... Carr trotted back onto the field the next time Las Vegas had the ball. Because despite the loss, Carr and the Raiders were happy to see this last chaotic week in the rearview mirror. They actually feel pretty good about what they put on tape in a 25-point loss. Yes, really. Mostly because they were within four points early in the fourth quarter and were doing it with a makeshift offensive line.

Fool's gold? Whistling by the graveyard? No matter. Carr is proud of his team in general, his O-line in particular, after an especially uncertain last couple of days as they prepare for what they hope is a normal run-up to a game in Cleveland next week.

"I want to say how proud I am of that offensive line, not just the starters, but the backups also for the week they had," Carr said. "It's unlike anything we've ever seen before.

"Football is a game that needs to be practiced. It's a game of team, and when you don't have all your guys out there, it's tough throughout the week. With that said, I'm very proud of them for coming in against that multiple front-multiple blitz operation that they are and being able to play the way that they're able to play. They did a fantastic job."

A quick recap: Coming off an impressive win at Kansas City on Oct. 11 and enjoying a bye week, Pro Bowl right tackle Trent Brown tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. And because he was not wearing his tracker during practice on Monday, film had to be scoured through to find out whom he had been close to, and that turned out to be the other four starting linemen.

As such, left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Denzelle Good (starting in place of Richie Incognito, who is on injured reserve), center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson had to self-isolate for five days, plus the last day of contact, and were not cleared to play until Sunday morning.

Miller said he got in his workout in his garage gym while they all "participated" in practice meetings and sessions via virtual sessions.

"I know individually, we worked on steps in the plays in the grass and basically just did the best with what we had," he said. "Weird time. No fans and then one week you don't see [practice] and then you show up on Sunday and do the best you can."

Then, right tackle Sam Young injured his left knee in the second quarter and was replaced by Brandon Parker. Things got even weirder in the third quarter, with Jackson ejected for stepping on a Buccaneers player's shoulder in a scrum and replaced by rookie John Simpson.

Not surprisingly, Josh Jacobs was limited to a career-low 17 yards rushing on 10 carries.

"The Buccaneers are one of the top run-stopping defenses in the league, and we did the best we could with the circumstances we had throughout the week," Miller said. "I think there could be one or two communication things or feel for things. It's just little details that you kind of missed out not being with the team."

Said tight end Darren Waller: "You can't script stuff like that. It's really weird and really hard to prepare how you want to and practice how you want to."

Still, Carr looked sharp at times in completing 24 of 36 passes for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while scrambling twice for 19 yards.

Tom Brady, who passed for 369 yards with four TDs, was better.

Especially since Las Vegas had only had one quarterback hit, and after Maurice Hurst knocked the 43-year-old Brady down, Brady said something and Hurst helped Brady up and patted him on the helmet.

Michigan Men, right?

Fine. But the Raiders, who were missing intimidating safety Johnathan Abram since he had contact with Brown on Tuesday -- more recently than the O-line -- and was still on the reserve/COVID-19 list, need to answer in a fiercer tone.

"Even until the very end they played their hearts out," said coach Jon Gruden. "We've got to play better, in all phases. But it was a tough week, certainly. It will make us better in the long run. Hopefully it motivates a lot of people out there that you can go out and accomplish great things in adversity and, hopefully, deep down, there's benefits to be had here."