Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden spoke extremely positively of backup quarterback Marcus Mariota, who replaced the injured Derek Carr early on in the game and almost led the team to a win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Carr, the Raiders' starting quarterback, suffered a groin injury late in the first quarter and he didn't return to the game as Mariota took over at the quarterback position. Mariota put up a solid performance as he went 17-of-28 for 226 yards, had one touchdown and one interception but it wasn't enough as the Chargers claimed a 30-27 overtime win.
"It just shows the kind of player, the kind of football character he has," Raiders coach Gruden said of Mariota. "You lose Derek, and then we change gears offensively. And Marcus came in and did a great job. Really proud of him.
I think that this kind of puts an exclamation point on why we signed him and just wish we could have won the game for him." When asked about Carr's injury, Gruden said: "I don't believe it's a real tear, but if he can't finish the game, it's got to be pretty significant."
Mariota played his first game of the season
"When it comes down to it, it's part of your job -- to be prepared," Mariota said. "It's just fun. It's fun to play. ... I think of myself as a point guard and try to distribute and give our guys an opportunity to just go out there and play.
Sometimes the defense is going to give you some scrambling lanes, and I just try to execute and make first downs and keep the rhythm going." Mariota also rushed for 88 yards against the Chargers. "If Derek can't go, we're going to always try to do what our quarterback does best," Gruden said.
"This guy can really run, he's a dual threat, and he proved it tonight." Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert grew up grew up idolizing Mariota at Oregon. "It was special for me," Mariota said.
"I've gotten to know Justin. Him and my brother were close at Oregon, so it was really cool to see his level and how he's playing and how well he's been doing. It was cool to see him [tie the rookie passing TD] record and, again, being a fan of the game, being a fan of Oregon players, it was really cool and really special for me."