Raiders’ Derek Carr called ‘James Harden’ audible on Sunday Night Football


Sunday night’s AFC West battle between the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs and newly-minted Las Vegas Raiders went down to the wire with Kansas City stealing a late win on the strength of 348 yards and two touchdowns from fourth-year gunslinger Patrick Mahomes. Derek Carr had an equally strong showing for Vegas, contributing three touchdowns on elite 23-of-31 passing in the losing effort (74.2 completion percentage).

One of the perks of playing quarterback in the NFL, beyond the allure of fame and limitless wealth (even middle-tier quarterbacks command nine-figure contracts in this day and age), is coming up with quirky audibles to call at the line of scrimmage. Peyton Manning’s preferred “Omaha” was always a fan favorite while Jared Goff garnered attention for shouting out actress Halle Berry during a game in 2018.

Carr didn’t like what the Chiefs were showing on defense during Sunday’s game at newly-christened Allegiant Stadium, prompting the Raiders vet to adjust on the fly. The 6’3” quarterback opted for a new play, alerting his teammates to the change by name-dropping Houston Rockets star (at least for now) James Harden.

Fun as it was to hear Carr, who spent much of his upbringing in greater Houston (where his older brother, former Texans quarterback David Carr, played for five seasons), allude to Harden during Sunday’s divisional showdown in Sin City, the Raiders will probably have to retire that play call now that opponents know what it is. Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho, now of Fox Sports, appears to have cracked the case, surmising that “Harden” signals a run to the left side which, as most NBA fans know, is Harden’s dominant hand. Carr and the Raiders didn’t stop there though, mixing in a slew of other colorful audibles like “Chris Mullin” (another NBA great) and “Purple Walrus" to spice things up.

Despite his Houston roots, Carr is well-known for his Los Angeles Lakers fandom, which he acknowledged by wearing an arm band in recognition of Kobe Bryant, who passed away earlier this year. As for Harden, the long-tenured Rocket has seen his name in the headlines recently with many speculating the former MVP wants out of Houston. Brooklyn is reportedly Harden’s top trade destination though, from the looks of it, ornery guard Kyrie Irving does not want that to happen.

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