OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Derek Carr came back from an injured pinky to lead another fourth-quarter comeback and the Oakland Raiders won their fifth straight game, beating the Carolina Panthers 35-32 on Sunday.
Carr threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns despite missing a series after the injury, leading the Raiders (9-2) back from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to clinch their first winning season since 2002.
After leading a game-tying drive earlier in the fourth quarter, Carr hit Michael Crabtree on a 49-yard pass on third-and-9 from the 14 to help set up Sebastian Janikowski’s 23-yard field goal with 1:45 left that gave Oakland the lead.
Cam Newton led the Panthers (5-6) into Oakland territory on the final drive but Greg Olsen dropped a pass on third down that would have put Carolina in field goal range and Khalil Mack stripped Newton on a fourth-down sack to seal the win.
The Panthers scored the first 25 points in the second half after Carr left the game when he hurt his right pinky while fumbling a snap on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter.
Jonathan Stewart scored on short runs following Carr’s fumble and his interception to Thomas Davis when he returned. Newton hit two long touchdown passes, connecting on an 88-yarder to Ted Ginn Jr. and a 44-yarder to Kelvin Benjamin that made it 32-24 early in the fourth quarter.
But Carr did what he has done best by leading his team back despite needing a glove on his injured right hand and taking snaps solely out of the shotgun.
Carr led a 75-yard drive capped by a 12-yard pass to Clive Walford for his NFL-best 12th tying or go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. A 2-point conversion to Seth Roberts tied the game.