Coming off an exhilarating victory on Thanksgiving Day over the Dallas Cowboys, the Las Vegas Raiders looked to keep their win streak alive by hosting another NFC East opponent in the Washington Football Team. Hoping to keep pace with the other AFC West teams for the division lead and stay in contention for a wild card spot at the very least, this Week 13 clash was an important game to say the least.
The Raiders would ultimately take a tough loss as Washington kicked a field goal with only 42 seconds remaining in the game to take a 17-15 lead. The Raiders’ last gasp drive fell short on the following possession and the team fell to 6-6 on the season.
Here’s how it all played out.
Washington wasted little time in getting the scoring started. A nine-play, 75-yard drive that lasted a little over five minutes saw QB Taylor Heinicke find TE Logan Thomas in the back of the end zone for a seven-yard score. This was only the second time all year the Washington Football Team had scored a touchdown in the first quarter.
The Raiders’ opening possession started off well enough, with QB Derek Carr going 4/4 passing until the drive stalled out at midfield. A short pass to RB Josh Jacobs followed up by a short Jacobs run netted a total of six yards. On 3rd and 4, a Carr pass intended for RB Kenyan Drake was nearly picked off and forced the Raiders to punt.
The rest of the half was much of the same. Both teams would move the ball well in spurts, only to get close to midfield and completely bog down. Heading into their final possession of the half, the Raiders had only 64 total yards of offense.
Getting the ball back with only 1:40 left in the half and only one timeout to work with, the Raiders desperately tried to get points on the board. Getting the ball at his own 20 yard-line, Carr would put together the best drive of the half for Las Vegas. The Raiders would get all the way to Washington’s 34 before settling for a field goal with nine seconds left in the half. Kicker Daniel Carlson drilled his 52-yard attempt to cut into Washington’s lead as the half came to a close with the score 7-3.
The start of the second half did little to inspire the Raider faithful. A 15-yard run by Jacobs put the Raiders close to midfield in a hurry but the Las Vegas offense stalled. On 3rd and 11 on their own 42, Carr was sacked by defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis, forcing the Raiders to punt yet again.
The following drive for Washington was mired by close calls for the Raiders. A tipped ball on 2nd down was nearly intercepted by CB Nate Hobbs. On 3rd and 15, Heinicke escaped what appeared to be a sure sack by DE Maxx Crosby. The Washington quarterback rolled out and nearly completed a long pass to Logan Thomas only for Thomas to tip it up in the air, but no Raider defender could reach the ball as it fell to the turf.
The following drive for the Raiders looked to be the most fruitful of the day, starting off with Carr completing a 5 yard pass to WR Hunter Renfrow, who then took it for a gain of 21.
Renfrow has consistently the Raiders top target all season. Coming up with big plays, Renfrow has been a reliable pass catcher all year long for Derek Carr.
“The win and the losses are the only things that matter,” Renfrow said after the game. “We can have as much individual success, it really does not matter.”
“To me it doesn’t matter if I have four fumbles or however many catches. If we don’t get the win, that’s all that matters.”
Three plays after Renfrow’s 21-yard gain, Carr would find TE Foster Moreau up the middle for 34 yards, the longest completion for Las Vegas up to that point. However, a quick completion to WR Bryan Edward gained six yards but was followed up by two more Carr incompletions. The Raiders would have to settle for a field goal and pull within one point with the score 7-6.
The Washington offense would come alive for the first time since their first drive of the game. Helped out by two huge penalties on Las Vegas, Heinicke would lob a pass just over the fingers of Raiders defenders to Logan Thomas for a catch and run of 35 yards. On 3rd and 6, Heinicke would run for seven yards and a big first down at the Raiders’ nine yard-line as the 3rd quarter ended.
The Raiders defense would stiffen somewhat, stuffing two straight touches by RB Antonio Gibson. However, they couldn’t stop him on this third straight touch. Heinicke would scramble around until he found Gibson in the flat, who then took it 4 yards into the end zone. The extra point was good and Washington had its largest lead of the day at 14-6.
Las Vegas would respond on their most crucial drive of the game. Carr would find Renfrow for a big gain of 28. WR DeSean Jackson snagged his first catch, a 14-yard gain, which was doubled due to a roughing the passer call on Washington. A pass interference call on Washington LB Cole Holcomb brought the Raiders down to the Washington one yard-line. Josh Jacobs would dive into the end zone on the following play to give the Raiders their first touchdown on the day. A failed 2 point conversion would keep Washington’s lead at two, 14-12.
Needing a big play, the Raiders defense had to step up. Nate Hobbs, who nearly had an interception earlier in the game, picked off a long ball by Heinicke and was brought down at the Las Vegas 39. Three plays later, the Raiders found themselves at Washington’s 32, Once again, the Raiders offense would stall. A 37-yard field goal would give Las Vegas its first lead of the day.
Washington’s offense would take the field with 2:22 left in the game, needing a field goal to take the lead. A methodical drive led by Heinicke would quickly put the Football Team into Las Vegas territory. With 42 seconds left, Washington connected on a 48-yard field goal to take a 17-15 lead that held after the Raiders couldn’t connect on a Hail Mary on the last drive of the game.
Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia discussed the team’s inability to finish drives.
“We gotta come up with some plays somehow and find a way to make a play with people on us and find a way to make a throw even when we’re under duress.” Bisaccia said after the game.
Bisaccia summed up the game, and the Raiders season, in one perfect sentence:
“The highs have been pretty good and the lows have been very low.”
The Las Vegas Raiders head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in a pivotal divisional game. At 6-6, the Raiders are currently on the outside of the playoffs looking in. A loss to the Chiefs may be a death blow to the Raiders’ playoff hopes. The Raiders were defeated by the Chiefs earlier in the season 41-14. With five games left, the Raiders may need to run the table to keep their playoff hopes alive.
RB Kenyan Drake went down with an injury halfway through the second quarter. He was carted off and did not return. Bisaccia declined to comment on the severity of the injury, but did say that it was “concerning.”
LB Denzel Perryman hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter of the game and was not on the field for Washington’s final drive. His status is one to monitor going forward.
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