The Las Vegas Raiders thrived under pressure in a must-win game on Sunday. The Raiders played one of their most complete games of the season and had many players step up to pull out a 23-20 win against the Colts in Indianapolis. Now, the 9-7 Raiders are sitting just outside of the playoff picture with one game left on the schedule. The Raiders’ Week 18 home matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers is a win-and-in scenario for both teams. That game has been flexed to Sunday Night Football.
In a game against the Colts where nearly everyone made a big play, here’s who stood out the most.
The veteran wide receiver came to play on Sunday, finally having the type of game that Raider Nation has long hoped for. Zay Jones had eight catches for 120 yards. Jones averaged 15 yards per reception, catching 80% of his targets. His 120 receiving yards were a career-high.
“Again, Zay (Jones) I thought put himself in position to make some big plays today,” interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said after the game. “Stayed on his feet and got us some first downs. A credit to those guys – the way in which they just kept battling and battling and battling. You just can’t say enough about it.”
Jones was long overdue for a big game. After the release of WR Henry Ruggs III, Jones was poised for a bigger role in the offense. However, for one reason or another, Jones hasn’t had the breakout season that was expected. This week, Jones played to prove what he could bring to the offense, and it paid off.
Casey Hayward Jr.
There is no arguing that Casey Hayward Jr. has been one of the most valuable players for the Raiders this season. He is reliable, consistent, and didn’t give up a touchdown through 15 games.
On Sunday, Hayward Jr. was targeted only twice in coverage. He allowed just one catch for 3 yards and allowed just a 56.3 passer rating. Hayward played all 59 defensive snaps, earning a coverage grade of 73.3 per PFF. Hayward was a game-changing force as he was responsible for multiple Indianapolis Colts three and outs with a pass break up.
On top of his excellent playing skills, Hayward Jr. has been the leader of a young defense. After fellow CB Trayvon Mullen was placed on injured reserve with a season-ending toe injury, Hayward stepped in to lead the players, taking over his position. CBs Nate Hobbs, Brandon Facyson, and CB Desmond Trufant have blossomed under the guidance of Hayward Jr. On Sunday against the Colts, Hayward Jr. was again one of the Raiders’ best players on the field.
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