Derek Carr makes strong case to start in Raiders' victory

OAKLAND, Calif. -- With a fabulous finish to the preseason, rookie Derek Carr created a big question for the Oakland Raiders heading into the regular season.

Carr threw three touchdown passes to make a case he should be Oakland's starting quarterback as the Raiders beat the Seattle Seahawks 41-31 on Thursday night.

Carr was almost perfect in the start in place of Matt Schaub, completing 11 of 13 passes for 143 yards and led Oakland (2-2) to four touchdowns in four drives.

"Let's not bury our head in the sand," coach Dennis Allen said. "But I haven't changed anything. I think we're in good shape where we're at with all of our quarterbacks and I feel good about being in the position we're in."

Schaub was anointed the starter after being acquired in an offseason trade from Houston. Coach Dennis Allen hasn't deviated from that plan even as Schaub struggled in the preseason before resting this game with a sore throwing elbow.

Now the question will be if Carr's strong performance that included one touchdown drive against Seattle's first-team defense or Schaub's health will be enough to change that plan before the opener against the New York Jets on Sept. 7.

"That's up for coach Allen to talk about," Carr said. "My job is to come in and compete my tail off and help this team win."

The Seahawks (2-2) have no questions about their starting quarterback. Russell Wilson made the most of a brief cameo, completing three passes for 77 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to Luke Willson on a four-play drive to open the game.

"When I look back at this preseason the thing that jumps out at me is what our offense was able to do when the first group was in there," coach Pete Carroll said. "Russell had a phenomenal preseason statistically in every way. That group looks ready to play."

The bigger question for the Super Bowl champions coming into this game was whether former Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor could show enough to earn a spot on the roster as a third quarterback.

Pryor, booed by his former fans, played his best game of the preseason, going 11 for 17 for 134 yards and a 33-yard touchdown pass to Phil Bates. He also ran for 12 yards on four carries.

DeShawn Shead also scored on a 55-yard interception return on a pass thrown by Matt McGloin.

But this night was all about Carr, who said he was "less rookie" than he was two weeks ago with the starting offense when he yelled out the play in the huddle so loud that his teammates were afraid the defense could hear the call.

The second-round pick out of Fresno State made the most of the starting assignment. He completed five passes on the opening drive, including a third-down conversion to Denarius Moore, who was covered by All-Pro Richard Sherman. Latavius Murray capped the drive with a 5-yard TD run.

"I was really excited that they played," Carr said of Seattle's starting defense. "You obviously want to play against the best. They have the ring to prove it. That's what we're chasing."

Carr was just getting started, leading back-to-back one-play touchdown drives following big special teams plays.

After a fumbled kickoff by Bryan Walters, Carr threw a 36-yard TD pass to Moore on the following play to give the Raiders a 14-7 lead.

TJ Carrie's 45-yard punt return set up Oakland's next drive at the Seattle 20. On the next play, Carr threw a TD pass to Mychal Rivera, who made a great adjustment on a pass that was deflected by Malcolm Smith.

Carr ended his night with an eight-play touchdown drive, capping it with a perfectly placed back-shoulder 11-yard throw to Moore. That gave Oakland a 28-7 lead and sent the crowd into a frenzy rarely seen in the preseason.

That ended Carr's night and started what could be more than a week of questions about the opening day starter.

"The great thing is we have three guys who could start at quarterback for us," Allen said. "I'm very happy with where we're at with the quarterback room. The biggest thing is to see where Matt is when he comes in Monday."

NOTES: Walters had five kick returns for 137 yards, two punt returns for 13 yards and three catches for 47 yards as he tries to earn a spot on Seattle's roster. ... Undrafted rookie George Atkinson III had eight carries for 63 yards for Oakland. ... McGloin threw a TD pass to Brice Butler, the fourth time the two had connected on a scoring play this preseason.

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press

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