By Nick Shook
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Every Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum during the 2016 season has felt like one big party — until Week 16.
The Raiders were again rolling to what appeared to be another win when quarterback and rejuvenating sparkplug Derek Carr went down with a leg injury. He knew it immediately, and it didn’t take long for team doctors to also learn the severity of the injury: a broken fibula, surgery on deck and an indefinite amount of time away from the field.
The devastating injury ended the party, which turned somber and resembled a funeral inside the Raiders‘ locker room. Suddenly, a 12-win team on the precipice of its first postseason appearance since 2002 felt like it had been cut at the knee.
“It feels just like we lost,” edge rusher Bruce Irvin said after the game, which the Raiders won 33-25, via CSN Bay Area. “I mean, we lost our best friend, our leader. He is the leader of this team, both him and Khalil Mack. Just seeing him go down like that, it hurt us.
“It didn’t really feel like we won, but we got to continue to keep fighting. He won’t want to see us get down and worry about him. He wants us to keep fighting and that is what we got to do. We have confidence on this team that we can keep this thing rolling.”
Donald Penn hadn’t allowed a sack all season until Saturday. It happened to be the sack that knocked out Carr.
“I’m very disappointed in myself, because it was my guy that got him,” an emotional Penn said after the game, via the Mercury News. “I’ve been great all year. I was engaged with my guy, took another step, and my foot just slipped from under me. I wish I could have that (expletive) play back. … I wish there was something else I could do. I’ve never got a quarterback hurt in my career.”
They’ll have to forge onward with Matt McGloin, who was retained for a scenario such as this. But it will be difficult to regain the energy of a team that seemingly had everything going for it, with its gunslinging signal-caller being at the top of the list.
“We just need to continue to work, continue to go out there and do what we need to do so we can be successful in the postseason,” running back Latavius Murray said. “That’s been our goal the whole time. That doesn’t change despite the fact that Derek is going to be out for a few weeks.”