By Nick Shook
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Let’s just cut to the chase this week: Oakland’s win over Tampa Bay was a sloppy mess that probably had the likes of Tom Landry, Paul Brown and Vince Lombardi turning in their graves. No matter, though, because this is 2016, it’s Jack Del Rio’s year and we’re all just watching the madness, flying yellow flags included.
Oakland leads the way, legitimately standing as the greatest squad on the road with a 5-0 record away from home. Their leader is our winner on the eve of November. The autumn wind is a pirate; the autumn wind is a Raider.
The Raiders were one of four road teams to win in Week 8. These are your greatest on the road.
Greatest on the Road
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Carr has started to weave quite a little tale for himself in 2016. Paired with Del Rio, the gunslinger has brought the Raiders back from the dead (Halloween pun unintended) on multiple occasions. It’s not by chance Oakland is undefeated on the road; it’s directly a product of the Carr/Del Rio pairing, their growth and above all, their guts.
Carr said recently that he and his coach are so in sync, he often knows when Del Rio will opt to go for it on fourth down before he even gives the nod. So in the midst of a historically disastrous contest, it had to be Carr who saved us from the brink of a two-tie Sunday, and it had to come on fourth down in the final two minutes of the game.
Carr stood alone in the shotgun with a five-receiver set, dropped in the pocket, set and fired a bullet to a crossing Seth Roberts at the 30, who broke two tackles and housed it for six and a Raiders win. It capped a record-breaking day for Carr, who threw for a franchise-best total of 513 yards and four touchdowns on 40-of-59 passing. No matter that Tampa Bay wasted away multiple chances to secure the win. This one is all about the road warriors: the road Raiders.
Also considered …
Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets
The Jets had as miserable a first half as any team will have all season. Yes, it was even more miserable than the Niners or Browns, who also happened to be their opponent Sunday. But that all changed in the second half, with much of the credit due to Enunwa.
After slogging through a first half that saw Ryan Fitzpatrick complete 3 of 16 attempts (one went to Enunwa) and the Browns take a 20-7 lead, the wideout got going in the third quarter. It started with a reception for a touchdown that showed the first signs of life on the part of theJets, and had to inspire his teammates.
That play alone was worthy enough of consideration, because it served as the turning point. New York ran off 24 straight points, erased Cleveland’s lead and didn’t look back, banishing theBrowns to the Island of Winless Teams (population: 1). Enunwa finished with four catches for 93 yards and the one touchdown. It wasn’t an eye-popping stat line, but anyone who watched the game knows how his performance triggered a Jets comeback that turned down the temperature of Todd Bowles’ seat just a little bit.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady owns the AFC East. And at 39 years old, we’re approaching a serious conversation to be had about his candidacy for MVP, in just 12 games. Both were as apparent as ever on Sunday, when Brady’s Patriots responded to an earlier defeat at the hands of the Bills by obliterating them in Orchard Park.
Brady completed 22 of 33 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns. New England dominated the game from the possession following Buffalo’s opening field goal to the end. Blown coverages helped the Pats score with ease, as did the added incentive of eviscerating a divisional opponent with a statement win. At this point, if you don’t think Brady is out to destroy any and everything in his path, you need a reality check. Unfortunately for the sans-LeSean McCoy Bills, Sunday was their turn to take their medicine.