OAKLAND — The jeers were noticeable as Derek Carr jogged to the Black Hole to thank fans for the support they had shown him since arriving to the Oakland Raiders as a second-round draft pick in 2014.
And after fans showered the quarterback’s scrum with beer, soda and assorted trash, the boos from the sold-out crowd of 52,788 at RingCentral Coliseum grew thunderous as Carr emerged into full view of fans and sprinted toward the tunnel to the locker room.
As such, the curtain fell on the Raiders’ second tenure in Oakland with a devastating last-minute 20-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a day in which the Raiders, who are moving to Las Vegas in 2020, were shut out in the second half and gave up two touchdowns in the final five-plus minutes.
“Oh gosh,” Carr said when asked about his being booed off the field. “What’s new with our crowd? Whenever we don’t win, that’s going to happen. Trust me, it’s not under my skin. It’s nothing.”
Carr’s voice trailed off. Asked later what his message would be to the fans, he shrugged and smiled.
“Message to the fans?” he said. “I’m sure they don’t want to hear anything right now.”
Not when the Raiders had so clearly dominated in the first half, holding a halftime lead of 16-3. Not when the Raiders were officially eliminated from the AFC playoff race. And not when the Raiders sent their East Bay fans home with such a sour taste in their mouths, the Raiders dropping their fourth straight game to fall to 6-8.
Officials in the Jaguars-Raiders game stop play to tell fans to stop pointing lasers at the players.
The next time the Raiders play a home game, it will be in a 65,000-seat, state-of-the-art, domed Allegiant Stadium with a natural grass field just off the Las Vegas Strip.
Indeed, it has been a long, strange farewell to Oakland since the Raiders won the right to move to Southern Nevada in the spring of 2017. And, if there are significant construction delays in Las Vegas, the Raiders have the option to play next season in Oakland.
But on this day, it was a goodbye party that began as a raucous celebration of a franchise that actually began AFL play in San Francisco in 1960 and moved to Oakland in 1962 before moving into the Coliseum in 1966.
The pregame tailgates, a unique experience in Oakland, were packed and filled with emotions. Charles Woodson lit the memorial Al Davis Torch. Several Raiders Hall of Famers and legends like Jim Otto, Fred Biletnikoff, Tom Flores, Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen and Tim Brown took part in a halftime ceremony honoring the franchise’s six decades of play.
But the party turned somber, and then rowdy with the loss. More than an hour after the final whistle, fireworks were still going off in the parking lot. And not with a triumphant tone.
“I’d like to say I wish we could have sent the Raiders fans off with a lot better finish than that,” said Raiders coach Jon Gruden. “I think, most importantly, before we talk about the game, is I would like to thank the fans. I would like to thank the city of Oakland for supporting the Raiders and being faithful and I’ll miss them.
“I love them and I’m sorry about the outcome today, but I think that is something that needs to be said and I really apologize that we weren’t able to deliver a victory.”
Jon Gruden apologizes to Raider nation for not getting the win but thanks them for their everlasting support throughout the years.
Security ringed the field at the end of the third quarter, when Oakland still led, 16-6, in an effort to stop fans from rushing the field as they did in last season’s finale, when it appeared then as though the Raiders were playing their last game at the Coliseum.
But as the Jaguars rallied, the crowd grew tense. And when Chris Conley hauled in a 4-yard touchdown catch with 31 seconds to play to give the Jaguars a four-point lead with the PAT, the trash came flying on the field.
A half-a-plastic football filled with nacho cheese. A cup holder ripped from a seat. Water bottles. Liquid spray.
“I’m going to tell myself that was beer,” said one photographer who was hit.
At least two fans were arrested after coming on the field from the south end zone seats while others were trying to rip the RAIDERS signage from atop a dugout.
“I mean, it’s a good thing because they know they lost,” Jaguars rookie defensive end Josh Allen said of the postgame atmosphere. “We made history. Last game here. They’re always going to remember that. I’ll let them know that. I’ll let them know that.”
Perhaps fittingly, the last play of the game was a Hail Mary pass from Carr to a gaggle of players in the end zone, the ball bouncing off the helmet of Raiders receiver Keelan Doss with Marcell Ateman trying to make a play on the ball.
And with that, the Raiders’ record at the Coliseum fell to 94-106 in regular season and postseason games since they returned from a 13-season sojourn in Los Angeles in 1995. They were 98-26-3 in Oakland from 1966 through 1981.
The Raiders had just one winning season over their final 17 years in Oakland, going 12-4 in 2016. The only losing season they had in their first Oakland tenure? When, as defending Super Bowl champs, they went 7-9 in 1981, the year before they moved to Southern California.
There are still two games to play for the Raiders, at the Los Angeles Chargers and at the Denver Broncos. But this era is done.
“Literally, the only thing you can do is watch the film, correct it, work out tomorrow and get ready for the next game,” Carr said. “It’s a sucky thing sometimes.
“So, you can sulk and be sad and sit there and complain and point fingers and things like that. But you can point all the fingers at me. That’s okay.”
The fans had already done just that, fairly or not.
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