Connor Cook crucial to Oakland’s playoff success: Derek Carr’s injury forces rookie quarterback into spotlight for Saturday’s wild card game

Dreams are often too good to come true for Raiders’ fans.
Heading into Week 16, the Raiders were in the midst of a dream season. After years of mediocrity, the team held an impressive 11-3 record heading into their matchup against a weak Colts team. With Khalil Mack leading Oakland’s defensive unit and star quarterback Derek Carr orchestrating the team’s offense, the Raiders were considered one of the few strong AFC contenders to make the Super Bowl.

Although the Raiders edged the Colts 33-25 to improve their record to 12-3, the team lost more than it won that day. Just a minute into the fourth quarter, Carr went down after a sack and was forced out of the game. It would later be revealed Oakland’s prized quarterback suffered a broken fibula on the play. Just like that, Oakland’s dream season and Super Bowl hopes took a huge hit.

It didn’t take long to see how the team would respond in the wake of the injury. Oakland faced the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos for its final regular season game, and the absence of Carr was quickly showing. The Raiders’ star-powered offense fell flat without its leader under centre, mustering up only six points in the team’s 24-6 blowout loss. To make matters worse, Carr’s replacement, backup quarterback Matt McGloin, suffered an injury and will miss the team’s Wild Card game.

With only a few days remaining until Oakland’s Wild Card tilt against Houston, all eyes now focus on rookie quarterback Connor Cook, who will be making his NFL debut. Cook, who started in college for Michigan State from 2013-2015, was announced as the starting quarterback ahead of Saturday’s game. Pressure is square on the rookie’s shoulders to improve his team’s chances of advancing to the division round. And it won’t be easy.

Cook will be up against a dominant Texans defense that ranked 1st overall in the NFL this season. If Cook hopes to cement his name in Raiders’ history with a breakout Wild Card game performance, now would certainly be a good time.

After all, rookies can step into the league and make a huge impact right away. Ask Cowboys’ rook’ Ezekiel Elliott, who’s led his Dallas Cowboys to a league-best 14-2 record…(!?!!..DAK PRESCOTT!) Even the greatest QB of all-time Tom Brady (sorry Peyton!) had to fill a star quarterback’s shoes at some point (throwback to Drew Bledsoe).
Raiders’ fans can never dream too much. Here’s to a New Year’s miracle; never know what can happen.

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