EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This was a different Derek Carr on the artificial turf in the Meadowlands for the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, polar opposite from the efficient and accurate quarterback we last saw two weeks ago before the bye.
Before former Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs III was involved in a fiery car crash that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her dog and injured his girlfriend and himself early Tuesday morning and left Ruggs facing felony DUI with death and reckless driving charges that could lead to 46 years in prison.
An emotional Carr spoke on Wednesday of the need to compartmentalize emotions and do the job. And despite saying emotions had nothing to do with it, something was obviously off with Carr in the Raiders' 23-16 upset loss at the New York Giants.
"This one's on me," Carr said, downplaying the notion of emotions manifesting themselves on the field. "Please, just talk about me turning the ball over."
Carr threw two interceptions, including a pick-six early in the third quarter, and was strip-sacked while driving for a potential game-tying touchdown and PAT inside the Giants' 20-yard line with 37 seconds to play, sealing Las Vegas' fate. He also badly overthrew a wide-open Darren Waller in the end zone in the first half.
In fact, all three of Carr's turnovers against the Giants came in the second half. He entered the game with just five turnovers all season.
All this after completing 91.2% of his passes against the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks prior.
"You can't turn the ball over," Carr reiterated. "That's why we lost the game. We fight at the end, we get a touchdown, we win the game, we're talking about different stuff. Not certain emotions and all that kind of stuff. At the end of the day, we're football players. So we play football. You just can't turn it over.
"The second interception, Zay [Jones] ran a double move, I tried to fit it in before the safety (Xavier McKinney) got there. He got there. That had nothing to do with emotion. That was a decision that I made, and it didn't work out."
The Raiders (5-3) doing a pratfall coming out of the bye fits a certain narrative -- they are now 3-16 in their first game after the bye week since 2003.
So, yeah, something was off. Something that needs to be fixed, and quick, lest their season spiral out of control as it did the past two seasons.
In 2019, the Raiders were 6-4 before finishing 7-9. And in 2020, they were 6-3 before ending 8-8. Up next, the seemingly resurgent Kansas City Chiefs on "Sunday Night Football" at Allegiant Stadium.
Carr's passer rating of 72.4 was the second lowest of the season (he had a 67.1 rating in a Week 5 loss to the Chicago Bears), and he ended up throwing for 296 yards and a TD with the two INTs, completing 30 of 46 attempts.
Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia was not sure "off" was the right word in describing Carr's game. Then again, maybe it was.
"I know there's some plays out there he'd love to have back," Bisaccia said.
"Certain throws go certain ways and sometimes they're a little high or low or a lot of guys make those catches. Again, we didn't execute on either end."
As such, Bisaccia also said he did not see any issues in the game regarding emotions, resilience, effort, attitude or poise.
Waller (seven catches for a game-high 92 yards), receiver Hunter Renfrow (seven catches, including a 2-yard TD) and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who had two sacks for the third time in four games, agreed.
"Incredibly tough what happened," Renfrow said. "It's just a tragedy. It was very sad. It was a tough week, but we have to come out and play better than we did. I think as we go forward, it's going to make us tighter. A lot of adversity this season, but I think just getting better every day is going to be the key to it."
The Raiders also went through the emotions of Jon Gruden's email investigation and ensuing resignation as head coach last month.
"Personally, it's blown me back a bit because Coach Gruden was somebody that risked a chance bringing me in, to give me a chance to play football again," said Waller, who battled addiction earlier in his career. "And Henry is somebody that everybody liked. Not just because he was the fastest person you ever seen run on the field, but he was a good person and a respectful person, somebody that you liked being around on a daily basis.
"It is shocking. It does hurt a little bit. But all we can do is the best we can to move forward and focus on football. Nobody asked for this, but at the same time, as far as training and resiliency and adversity, I feel like we're getting the best practice and training you could possibly get in that. So we've just got to keep moving forward."
From a pure football standpoint, the lack of a deep threat affected the Raiders' game plan in a big way. Safeties were able to cheat more than in the past. The Raiders addressed that with receiver DeSean Jackson, who said Sunday he was signing with the team.
But that news broke after the Raiders boarded their buses for the flight home. After Carr again said emotions had nothing to do with his performance.
"I try to be a model of consistency," Carr said. "Not for anybody else but so I can tell my kids the right way to do it. So, you go out and almost complete them all [against the Eagles], and it's like, 'Keep it up.'
"You go out there and you have a rough day [against the Giants], turning the ball over, it's ... I'm not going to change. I'm going to try to learn from those mistakes."