OAKLAND, Calif. — In retrospect, things were going almost too well for the Oakland Raiders. They were rolling along merrily on Christmas Eve with a comfortable 33-14 lead over the Indianapolis Colts. Everything was clicking. Offense, defense, special teams, Black Hole, sunny weather, everything.

Then the scoreboard clock hit 10:55 in the fourth quarter. And the world collapsed, directly on top of Derek Carr’s right ankle.

Actually it was Colts pass rusher Trent Cole who fell on top of the ankle. Reaching Carr from behind, Cole finished off his bringdown of the Raiders’ quarterback by twisting him counter-clockwise while Carr’s foot stayed planted in the grass and wanted to go clockwise. Those physics do not work with human body parts.

The result was immediate and apparent. Within seconds, even before trainers made it onto the field, Carr told teammates his leg was fractured. Coach Jack Del Rio confirmed it in almost his first words after the Raiders finished a muted 33-25 victory.

“Derek had a break in his fibula and requires surgery,” Del Rio said. “Try to get it done tomorrow.”

And with that short statement, the Raiders were eliminated from Super Bowl contention.

They already have qualified for the playoffs and still can wrestle the AFC’s top seed away from the New England Patriots. But without Carr, the chances of them winning two or three (or four) postseason games is minimal.

Sorry. That’s the truth. You can try to spin it otherwise, as Raiders players were attempting to do. No disrespect to them. They are professionals. They will prepare and work and execute and try to go as far as they can. They are paid to believe they can still get it done, that they can in fact ride backup quarterback Matt McGloin all the way to a championship. But that won’t be happening.

Carr is hardly the entire Raiders offense. But he’s been the man who made the offense so effective and efficient and confident, especially in the fourth quarter during so many inspiring comebacks this season.

McGloin is a nice backup, but he’s stayed a nice backup on merit. He hasn’t started a game since 2013. He had attempted just one pass this season before Saturday. It’s not unthinkable that McGloin could beat Denver in next week’s season finale. But then?

Here’s the Raiders’ best hope: That the Chiefs lose on Sunday night to Denver, which would clinch the AFC West title for the Raiders. That would give them a bye week and a guaranteed home playoff game, probably against Houston or Pittsburgh.

McGloin might be able to steer the Raiders’ offense to a victory at home against one of those teams. But can you realistically picture him going to New England and beating the Patriots? And then going on to win the Super Bowl against the Cowboys or Seahawks?

Meanwhile, if the Chiefs win out and the Raiders lose next week to the Broncos, Kansas City will win the division. The Raiders will be thrown into a wild-card game on the road. That’s also not an ideal scenario for McGloin.

“We’re going to get behind him,” said center Rodney Hudson. “That’s what good teams do. Everybody trying to pick up their game a level. Matt’s played before. He’ll be fine.”

Carr will be fine, too, at some point. But most likely not until training camp, even if Del Rio just said Carr would be out “indefinitely.” More details will be known after Monday’s presumptive surgery.

“You just hate to see it happen to a guy who’s been playing well, who’s a great guy,” said wide receiver Amari Cooper, who visited Carr in the X-ray room after the game. “I was just trying to be there for him, to comfort. He has a lot of faith. He knows everything is going to happen for a reason. He didn’t say much. He was silent. Who would say much like that? But he’ll be all right.”

Second guessers will abound, to be sure. They will wonder if Carr should have still been in the game with his team ahead by 19 points – or if he should have been dropping back to throw the ball even on second-and- 18 with that score, leaving himself vulnerable to such a catastrophic injury. One fourth- quarter television replay caught the Raiders’ owner, Mark Davis, seemingly mouthing the words: “Don’t throw the ball!”

The response here to all second-guessers is the same as always: With the rarest of exceptions, football isn’t ever a cut-and-dried, black-and-white game. And this wasn’t one of those exceptions.

In the NFL, even a 19-point lead with 11 minutes remaining is no sure thing. The Colts proved that following Carr’s injury by rallying into position to tie the score in the final minutes before a third-down pass from McGloin to Cooper earned a first down and sealed the deal.

As for the play call on second-and-18 … well, that’s a passing down. Carr had attempted 30 passes against the Colts prior to that play without being sacked. Bad luck just caught up to him. Football. It’s football. Carr wasn’t even the only NFL quarterback to fracture his fibula Saturday. Marcus Mariota of the Tennessee Titans suffered the same injury. The Titans’ playoff outlook is now similarly sunk.

Carr did not speak to the media or address his teammates following the game. But many of his teammates made sure to visit with him before he left for home.

“I talked to him personally,” Hudson said. “But I keep those conversations private out of respect to him.”

He paused.

“It’s tough right now,” Hudson said. “Everybody’s down a little bit.”

The Raiders are a good team. The Raiders will keep playing and be interesting, and exciting to watch. The Raiders will keep playing hard. But without Carr, they just won’t keep playing as long.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.