MEXICO CITY (AP) — Derek Carr woke up a struggling Oakland offense by throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter as the Raiders capped a successful trip to Mexico with a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Monday night.
Oakland had been held to 120 yards through three quarters with the running game going nowhere and Carr finding few open receivers downfield. But that suddenly changed in the fourth quarter to give the Raiders (8-2) their fourth straight win for the first time since 2002.
With star receiver Amari Cooper lined up in the backfield, Carr found fullback Jamize Olawale open for a 75-yard catch and run that tied Houston (6-4) at 20.
Then Oakland took advantage on two questionable spots by the officials to take over on downs at the 15 and drove 85 yards in five plays to take the lead on a 35-yard pass to Cooper .
That set off loud celebrations from the pro-Raiders crowd of 76,743 in the second regular season game ever played in Mexico. What was originally scheduled as an Oakland home game featured Raiders music during stoppages, Tommie Smith lighting the Al Davis torch in a memorable return to Mexico City nearly a half-century after his Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics and frequent “RAI-DERS!” chants.
While the atmosphere was electric, the field was a bit slippery leading to some falls and the high elevation 7,380 feet above sea level played a factor. The Raiders needed to use a timeout on defense at one point in the fourth to catch their breath and receiver Michael Crabtree was seen gasping for breath at one point.
CLOSE SPOTS: The Texans were upset on two spots on the fourth-quarter drive before Oakland went ahead. On third-and-2, Lamar Miller was stopped just short of the first down even though Houston believed he got it. Coach Bill O’Brien went for it on fourth down but Akeem Hunt was stopped about an inch short on fourth down and the play stood after a replay challenge.
LASER SHOW: Houston QB Brock Osweiler had to deal with an unusual distraction during the game as a fan with a green laser frequently shined it on the Houston quarterback as he dropped back to pass in an act more familiar in soccer games played here than in NFL games. That wasn’t the only soccer tradition imported for this game. Fans also used a homophobic chant on kickoffs. Mexico’s soccer federation has been punished by FIFA in the past for the chant during World Cup qualifiers. Fans threw paper airplanes on the field in the third quarter with Oakland’s Sean Smith taking a turn throwing one that reached the field during a break.
STREAK BROKEN: Carr had thrown 170 straight passes without an interception before getting picked by A.J. Bouye on a deep ball on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. It was Carr’s fourth interception of the season and the first since Kansas City’s Marcus Peters got one Oct. 16.
INTERNATIONAL SCORER: With his extra point in the second quarter, Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski scored a point in his third country, having previously done it in the United States and United Kingdom. Joe Nedney is the only other player to score in Mexico, the U.S. and the U.K. Five other players have scored in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.: running back Steven Jackson and kickers Robbie Gould, Matt Bryant, Dan Carpenter and Jay Feely.