(Carr photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders, Elliott photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)
Talk of Fame Network
Tom Brady, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan are still competing for a Lombardi Trophy in the conference semifinal round.
But it’s a player not there that was declared NFL MVP in last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. Our listeners and readers gave the honor to Oakland quarterback Derek Carr by a comfortable margin. Carr received 41.1 percent of the vote to outdistance rookie Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott at 25.1 percent.
Brady was next at 13.2 percent, followed by Prescott at 9.8 percent, Ryan at 6.1 percent and Rodgers at 2.9 percent. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford and Arizona running back David Johnson were also in the running.
Carr took the Raiders to unfamiliar heights, quarterbacking them to a 12-3 record through the first 15 games, giving them their first winning season and playoff berth since their last Super Bowl season in 2002. But he suffered a broken fibula in that 15th game against Indianapolis after throwing for three touchdown passes.
That ended his season – and ended Oakland’s Super Bowl aspirations. Needing a victory in the finale to claim an AFC West crown and a first-round bye, the Raiders fell to Denver, 24-6. Backup quarterback Matt McGloin completed only six-of-11 passes for 21 yards before he suffered a sprained shoulder and hobbled off the field late in the second quarter.
That left the offense in the hands of rookie Connor Cook for Oakland’s wild-card playoff game at Houston last weekend against the NFL’s top-ranked defense. But Cook threw three interceptions and the Oakland season ended with a thud, 27-14.
Carr was brilliant in his 15 starts, passing for 3,937 yards with 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He had an NFL-high 513-yard passing game against Tampa Bay and also 300-yard games against Carolina, New Orleans and San Diego plus a four-touchdown game against Baltimore.
Talk of Fame Network hosts Ron Borges, Clark Judge and Rick Gosselin were divided in their voting. Borges and Judge both voted Carr and Gosselin Elliott.
"If there was any doubt," Judge said, "the Raiders last two games should have put an exclamation point on it. They were 12-3 with him; helpless without him. That's good enough for me."
Elliott became the first rookie to lead the NFL in rushing since Edgerrin James in 1999 and his 1,631 rushing yards were the third best by a rookie in NFL history. His legs allowed the Cowboys to control the clock for almost 32 minutes per game, thus protecting a rookie quarterback (Prescott) and a defense that lacked playmakers. The Cowboys won the East with a franchise-record-tying 13 victories to claim the top seed in the NFC.