RAIDERS 32 BRONCOS 31
Las Vegas Raiders evened their record to (8-8) against the now (5-11) Denver Broncos after a comeback to win seven play, 77-yard drive that was capped by a Josh Jacobs 1-yard TD run and followed by the go ahead 2-pt conversion reception by Darren Waller which left 23 seconds in regulation.
The two divisional rivals have now met on consecutive Week 17 season finales where in 2019 the Broncos won 16-15 in dramatic fashion by batting down a 2-point conversion pass attempt which would’ve gave the then Oakland Raiders the win in the final seconds at Mile High Stadium. This time around at Denver with under a minute left to play coach Jon Gruden again went for the win instead of the tie but this time it wasn’t in trying to keep their playoff hopes alive but to punctuate the Vegas Raiders and late franchise owner Al Davis’ ethos “Just Win Baby!” to end the season.
It was a franchise record-setting night for the Raiders as their offense continued to shine as they have scored 30+ points for the 8th time this season, they are (7-1) when doing so.
Sophomore star Josh Jacobs out of Alabama positioned himself along with notable franchise marks with HOF Marcus Allen as the only Raiders running backs to accomplish 1000+ rushing yards with 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season. Jacobs passes Allen (6) for most games with 2+ rushing touchdown in their first two seasons, Jacobs also finished the 2020 campaign with (19) total rushing touchdowns which is only second to Allen’s (20) for two seasons of play.
One of the best connections in the NFL is now quarterback Derek Car to TE Darren Waller who broke the single-season franchise reception record for a tight end with (108), passing previous title holder and hall of fame wide receiver Tim Brown who had (104) in 1997. Darren also became only the 6th TE in NFL history with 100+ receptions in a single-season.
Derek Carr accomplished being the first Raiders quarterback to pass for 4,000+ yards for the 3rd consecutive seasons. Carr has 300+ passing yards in 4 of the last 5 games, he only accomplished that feat 4 times in the previous 39.
Kicker Daniel Carlson broke Sebastian Janikowski’s single-season franchise scoring record (142) in the season-ending game against the Broncos connecting on an extra point near the end of the second half making the mark (143) for himself.
The Raiders defense which played well most of the game faltered towards the end in usual fashion. It gave up late game pass receptions as it did against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins. Most notably in this matchup was via Bronco quarterback Drew Lock who threw a 92-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy which put Denver up 31-24 late in the 4th quarter.
Las Vegas has allowed 30+ points in 10 games, most in that span in team history. While giving up 31 points to Denver it did not get help from the Raider offense which turned over the ball 4 times. Broncos cornerback Michael Ojemudia had two forced fumbles which were attributed to Darren Waller and Henry Ruggs. Derek Carr also threw two interceptions while having not thrown any INTs in his last 9 games against Denver. The offensive turnovers put the already struggling defensive unit in a bind with bad field positions.
Denver quarterback Drew Lock who has struggled this season came into the game with more interceptions (15) than touchdown passes (14). He went 25-for-41 for 339 yards, 2 TD and no turnovers. While the Bronco offense stalled on third downs most of the game they made it up with volume and timely big plays. Running back Melvin Gordon ran for 96-yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.
Raiders special teams helped secure the win with 2 blocked field goal attempts by Bronco kicker Brandon McManus. His career-long is 54-yards and the two failed kicks were a 70-yard attempt with :03 left in the first half and a potential game-winning attempt of 63-yards in the final seconds.
In a season where they started (6-4) in the first ten games, the Silver & Black finished their final six going (2-5) and leaving them out of the postseason which continues a streak of 18 seasons from their Super Bowl XXXVII loss in 2002. The Broncos following a Super Bowl 50 win in 2015 have not made the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.
Image credits: Martin, K. (2021, January 04). Raiders cap off 2020 with a dramatic win over the division-rival Broncos. Retrieved January 04, 2021, from https://www.raiders.com/news/raiders-cap-off-2020-with-a-dramatic-win-over-the-division-rival-broncos