“Just Win Baby.”
From the words of former Las Vegas Raiders owner Al Davis, that has been the mentality for the team all year, especially on Sunday Night Football against the Los Angeles Chargers with the opportunity to make the playoffs for the first time in six years and second time in two decades.
Once again, the game came down to the final seconds – in overtime – and kicker Daniel Carlson notched a 47-yard field goal as time expired to give the Silver and Black a 35-32 nail-biting victory and a ticket into the playoffs in front of 62,068 inside Allegiant Stadium.
This was Carlson fifth game-winning kick and the team’s sixth walk-off victory of the season.
Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said all three phases of the game came through in a back-and-forth AFC West division battle.
“Unbelievable division game to come down to the end like that,” Bisaccia said. “We just find a way to have a chance to win at the end. Put Daniel back out there and great job by the offense going down there and defense comes up with a big stop. We have a chance to win at the end and we won it.”
The Las Vegas Raiders, who had multiple times to end the game late in regulation, could not get the big stop as the Chargers converted three fourth downs, had three replay reviews go their way and two touchdowns in the final 8:29, en route to tying the game at 29 apiece at the conclusion of the fourth quarter.
Defensive end Maxx Crosby, who had two sacks, three tackles for loss and four quarterback hits said the defensive line gave it their all every play with courage from defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
“Honestly, at the end of the day, my mentality personally is I know they’re tired too,” Crosby said. “So it’s either, he’s going to quit or I’m going to quit. I think that starts up front with us as a D-line. We don’t quit. We have guys who come from all different backgrounds. We’ve got guys who come from all different backgrounds. We have guys from different teams, vets, rookies, everything.
“But we have one committed goal. We’re going to play for each other and we’re not going to stop until our heart stops. That’s what Marinelli tells us.”
Las Vegas Raiders pull off epic win
Offensively, quarterback Derek Carr completed 20-of-36 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
Both of Carr’s two passing touchdowns went to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, who caught the game’s first touchdown in the first quarter to jump out to a 10-0 lead, with the other coming early in the fourth quarter.
Despite all of the emotions the team endured this season, let alone Sunday night, Carr said following the game, he talked to Raiders owner Mark Davis about how special and unworldly this season was despite all the ups and down this team found a way to make the playoffs.
“I was talking to Mr. Davis in the locker room and one of the things we were talking about was, ‘I don’t think any team has been through what we’ve been through in 10 years, let alone one year,’” Carr said. “There’s so much emotion with everything that we’ve done. We went through some stuff, some hard times, but we locked the doors every day on Monday and the people that were inside that building didn’t stop believing in us.
“It showed today. We made it to the playoffs. It’s awesome. It’s probably the coolest accomplishment I think I’ve ever had in my life, football-wise. To see where we we’re at, everything we went through and to still make it, this was the coolest thing to see this team to come together and be able to still decide that this is what we wanted to do.”
Despite Carr having only 186 passing yards, running back Josh Jacobs came through, carrying the ball 26 times for 132 yards and a touchdown.
Jacobs, who entered the game dealing with a rib injury, said he had to power through and trust what he said to offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
“For me like I said, I told Oli, ‘Man, I’m the closer,’” Jacobs said. “With me saying that, it’s kind of like I’ve got to back up my words. I’ve got to do what I asked him and earn that respect from him. When we look down, we looked at the guys, we felt we could run on them all day, so it came down to the nitty gritty. We knew what we were going to do.”
The 23-year-old running back’s touchdown came just before halftime.
First, the Raiders faced third-and-23 with 1:05 left in the second quarter.
Carr took the snap in the shot gun. After a split-second of designed hesitation, he handed it off to running back Jalen Richard and rumbled down the field for 22 yards, just short of the first down.
However, after review, Richard got past the first down marker and the drive continued.
After a Chargers sack and both teams called timeout, the Raiders faced second-and-10 with 49 seconds left.
The 6-foot-3 quarterback took the snap and was pressured out of the pocket and ran to his left. Carr threw a prayer toward the end zone, hoping something would happen.
Something did happen.
Wide receiver Zay Jones, who recorded five receptions for 27 yards, was the deep threat on the play and turned back toward the ball. Despite being at least 20 yards away from the ball, he ran into a Chargers defender, leading a pass interference call against the Bolts to set up first-and-goal for Las Vegas at the 1-yard line, which Jacobs cashed in on the next play.
Penalties were a factor as Los Angeles committed 10 penalties for 108 yards compared to Raiders’ four flags for 38 yards.
In addition, the Las Vegas offense had the ball for 38:41, moving to 9-0 this season when the team has possession for more than 30 minutes in a game.
The Raiders also saw the return of tight ends Darren Waller and Derek Carrier. Waller caught two passes for 22 yards while Carrier did not see target, but saw the field both on offense and special teams.
On the Chargers’ side of the ball, quarterback Justin Herbert completed 34-of-64 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
With the win, the Raiders clinch the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs and will face the No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals on the road on Jan. 15 at 1:35 p.m. PST. The AFC Wild Card matchup will kick off the playoff weekend in a rematch from two months ago in Las Vegas.