By Nick Avila
The Oakland Raiders’ dream 2016 season didn’t end the way many had expected, but it did end with a pair of Raiders taking home prestigious NFL Awards.
On Saturday, defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack was awarded the Defensive Player of the Year Award and quarterback Derek Carr took home the Clutch Performer of the Year Award. These awards may not have been the accolades many had hoped for, but it’s a sign of the respect and legitimacy that the Raiders now possess on the field.
Mack, who had 11 sacks on the year (tied for eighth in the league) in addition to 73 tackles for Oakland, per ESPN, had another stellar season on the edge. Compared to the top-15 sack leaders this season, Mack had the third most total tackles as well. Mack was the only defensive player to have at least 10 sacks and a touchdown this season.
Mack also forced five fumbles on the year (tied for third in the NFL) — three of which sealed wins for the Raiders on their way to a 12-4 season, which was the best for the franchise since 2002.
While Mack was sealing games up for the Raiders on defense, his counterpart on the Raiders “O” was helping to rack up the wins as well.
On the offensive side of things, Carr led the Raiders to seven fourth quarter comebacks this season (good for second in the NFL) and racked up over 1000 yards in the fourth quarter, according to Pro Football Reference.
Carr in the fourth quarter alone had 1,079 yards, which was the most of any quarter for the third-year QB.
Although he had the most yards in that game-defining period, Carr only threw the ball 129 times in the fourth, which was his second-lowest of any one quarter. In addition, he achieved his highest QB Rating in the fourth (compared to first, second, third) with a 109.3 Rating.
Carr also had 10 touchdowns in the last quarter of games, compared to eight in the second, six in the third and just three in the first.
To say Carr got better as the game proceeded is almost an understatement. He not only progressed, but excelled with games on the line, so it’s obvious to see why he won the award.
Not to forget about the leader on the sidelines, Jack Del Rio finished fourth in Head Coach of the Year voting. The awards prove that the Raiders have playmakers with the ability to alter games, so while the season ended and left players and fans with a sour taste, next season could be another productive one for the Silver and Black.