Derek Carr's 'James Harden' Audible During Raiders Loss Watched Over a Million Times

Social-distancing measures imposed during the coronavirus pandemic have meant NFL teams have played either behind closed doors or in front of limited capacity crowds so far this season.

While that has made for an eerie atmosphere, it has also given fans watching on TV a valuable insight in how quarterbacks go about their business. Without raucous crowds drowning out the calls, the quarterbacks instructions resonate clearly enough to be heard by viewers.

Deciphering the calls, however, remains as complicated a process as ever, particularly when Derek Carr is involved. In the Las Vegas Raiders' 35-31 defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, the Raiders quarterback showed all his creativity with a pair of audible calls that left analysts and fans puzzled.

With the the Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs tied at 14-14 in the second quarter and the Raiders on a first-and-10 from their own 43-yard line, Carr checked the Chiefs defense, before calling an audible and yelling "James Harden".

Carr pulled out the James Harden audible 🤣 @derekcarrqb @JHarden13 @Raiders

📺 #KCvsLV on NBC

— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 23, 2020

The call proved successful as Carr handed the ball off to Devontae Booker for a six-yard rush, the second play of a 12-play drive which ultimately ended with a field goal putting the Raiders 17-14 ahead.

The clip of Carr shouting out Harden's name quickly went viral and has racked up more than a million views on social media.

While viewers tried to interpret the quarterback's intentions, many revelled in the irony that an audible carrying the Houston Rockets star's name led to a play which did not involve Carr passing the ball.

On Twitter, some, including the Raiders' official account, considered it a fitting tribute to Harden's reputation as ball-dominant player.

Well, he didn't pass it...

— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) November 23, 2020

The Raiders’ James Harden play involved no passing, a whole lot of steps, and very little payoff

— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) November 23, 2020

Derek Carr pulling out the 'James Harden' audible and not passing is COMICAL. 😂

— theScore (@theScore) November 23, 2020

Carr, meanwhile, was not done with basketball references. With the Raiders on a first-and-10 from their 25-yard line and just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Carr checked, then shouted "Chris Mullin" just before taking the snap. Again, the audible proved successful as Raiders running back Josh Jacobs rushed for a five-yard gain.

Crucially, as FOX Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho pointed out, both Mullins and Harden are left-handed and both of Booker and Jacobs ran to the left after Carr called the audible. Significantly, the Raiders have run to the right whenever Carr has name checked right-handed NBA players.

I love being able to hear the QB’s talk without a crowd.

Derek Carr checks, “James harden” (left handed), #Raiders run left.

“Chris Mullin” (left handed) Raiders run left.

When Derek Carr has checked to right handed NBA players. Raiders run right. #SNF

— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) November 23, 2020

The Raiders quarterback isn't new to getting creative with his calls. During the Raiders' 34-30 win against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, Carr called an audible featuring both Tiger Woods and Cindy Gruden, the wife of Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

"I don't know what he's been up to at the line of scrimmage, but better keep my wife out of it from now on," Gruden at the time, as he jokingly rebuked his quarterback.

Carr completed 23 of his 31 passes for 275 yards, three touchdowns and one interceptions as the Raiders came within inches of sweeping the reigning Super Bowl champions this season, only for Patrick Mahomes to engineer a game-winning drive, which he capped with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce with 28 seconds left.

With the loss, the Raiders slipped to 6-4 and remain second in the AFC West behind the 9-1 Chiefs and currently hold the final playoff berth in the AFC.

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders scrambles with the ball during the first half of a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 22. Christian Petersen/Getty