INDIANAPOLIS – Derek Carr remembers thinking quarterbacks shouldn't be able to do that.
The year was 2007 and Carr's Clements High School football team had just knocked off Stratford High in the regional round of the Texans High School Football Playoffs.
Looking back on that game, Carr recalls the hostile environment, the close nature of the 31-27 victory and how the other quarterback could really run.
That quarterback was Andrew Luck.
"I remember him running all over us," Carr says of Luck, who ran for 94 yards in his final game of high school football. "He ran over somebody and I was like, 'Quarterbacks can do that?'"
"I just remember him being super-talented."
That talent, and running ability, has Luck and Carr meeting again nearly a decade later.
Just a few more people will be tuning in for this one, a Christmas Eve matchup with Carr's Raiders (11-3) and Luck's Colts (7-7) in a contest pitting two of the league's budding stars at quarterback.
The 2016 season has been the real coming out party for Carr.
Behind 25 touchdowns and seven fourth-quarter comebacks, Carr is one of the favorites to win the MVP after helping Oakland get back into the postseason for the first time since 2002.
"I have always been very, very impressed with (Carr) and have admired him as a quarterback," Luck says.
"He's had a great start to his career and certainly this year playing very, very well."
Carr is one of Oakland's NFL-best seven Pro Bowlers this season.
It's a Raiders team still fighting for the AFC's No. 1 overall seed while leading the best division in football.
The Colts come into Saturday's 4:05 kick in Oakland having won their last four games away from home.
Despite the success on the road, the Colts' playoff fate could be sealed before they even kick off on Saturday.
Even if the scoreboard watching is inevitable, Chuck Pagano swears he's not thinking about any regrets that might have the Colts in the position they are with two weeks remaining this season.
"We're always looking forward and always moving forward," Pagano says. "When it's all said and done, we'll be able to look back and evaluate and do all those kinds of things, but we really don't have any time right now to look at that.
"I think everybody understands where we are (and) what we have to do in order to win this football game and that's really the only thing that matters right now."**
INTERESTING MATCHUPSColts secondary versus Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr: **Can the Colts blanket arguably the NFL's top receiving duo with Oakland's Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree? The secondary needs to do its part in giving the pass rush more time to get home on Saturday. Oakland's massive offensive line is the best pass-protecting unit in the league.
Raiders defensive line versus the Colts offensive line: For the second straight week, the Colts have some questions as to who will start up front. But that's a good thing this week with Denzelle Good and Joe Reitz returning to practice, after their replacements more than held their own last week. The Colts have to make sure they secure the edges on Saturday with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin humming after Andrew Luck.
- The Colts are looking for a fifth straight road victory.
- Frank Gore needs to average 55 rushing yards per game over the final two weeks to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
- T.Y. Hilton (3 career Pro Bowls) and Pat McAfee (2 career Pro Bowls) were named to the Pro Bowl earlier this week.
- The Raiders have clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2002.
- The Raiders are plus 15 in turnover differential this season, the best mark in the NFL.
- Since 2015, Khalil Mack has 10 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles, 3 forced fumbles and a pick six in his last nine games.
NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the Raiders):
"It's an excellent, excellent football team. They're big, athletic, fast. I was fortunate enough to spend a couple years in that organization when Mr. (Al) Davis was still alive. He's as good as there is in this business. He knows how to build a football team. It's the same thing, it was always about length and speed and size. It was a big man's game and these guys have a heck of a roster. Line of scrimmage, offensive line, big, tough, well coached, Mike Tice does a great job. He's done a great job for a long time. Got the quarterback, he's playing extremely well. (Amari) Cooper, (Michael) Crabtree, good a combo as there is in the league right now. Tight ends, (Latavius) Murray, (Jalen) Richard, (DeAndre) Washington, got three runners, got a big one, kind of like a Darren McFadden type guy. Downhill guy, between the tackles, athletic enough and fast enough to bounce it outside, break a lot of tackles, things like that. Sixth ranked offense, sixth rushing, sixth passing. They're very, very balanced. Again, the quarterback (Derek Carr) is doing a great job, 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He's made great decisions. He's taking care of the football. Defensively, they've got a bunch of talent, take the ball away at a high rate, 26 takeaways to this point. Turnover margin, they're number one in the National Football League, plus-15. Special teams, Brad Seely does a great job, been doing it for a long, long time. We know their record. It speaks for itself. It's a confident team, very aggressive in all three phases and they've learned how to win. Their quarterback against San Diego, I think it was his seventh fourth quarter comeback win so again, they're playing with a great deal of confidence. Jack (Del Rio) has done a great job in a short period of time changing the culture and bringing an identity to that football team. Once you look at the tape, it's easy to see why they're having the success that they are."
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the young guys contributing):
"You find out who has really bought in to that whole notion of you have to prepare like a starter and that is what we asked them to do from day one. You never know when your number is going to get called and you would hate to be that guy that didn't do that and then all of a sudden a guy has a shoe come off or a chin strap breaks and then your number is called and then you can't go out there and play at the level that you need to play at for your teammates. Credit to those guys because they come to work every single day. Even though they are young, they have good leadership around them, the coaches have done a great job with them and they are able to go out and play at a high level. Again, circumstances, they don't make you, they reveal you. It's times like these that you really find out about yourself and about your team, about your character and about your DNA and things like that. It's good, obviously we have some young guys that have bright futures ahead of them as long as they stay the course."
Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck(on the Colts winning four straight road games):
"I don't know. I'm not sure if we can explain it. Maybe it will never be explained. Maybe we will never know why, but we have done a decent job. Great what has happened in the past, great on the road, whatever. This game is a new one. Again, it's sort of a one game season for us. I know from our perspective as an offense they're a really good defensive unit. They force turnovers, they've got good edge rushers and they've got good cover guys. It will be a great challenge."
Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio(on the inconsistencies of the Colts this season):
"We are just preparing based on the tape we have seen. They really got after the Vikings last week. They won their last four road games and are doing a lot of really good things as a football team right now. We are preparing for the team we see on tape."
Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio(on having the Raiders back to relevancy):
"Yeah, I think that is a great way of looking at it. We are very proud that we are once again relevant. The way we become relevant is really respecting each and every opponent and working our tails off to prepare and then going in and competing for 60 minutes and that is what we plan on doing against Indy this week."