By: Kevin Le
Las Vegas starts 2021 with a 32-21 victory over the Denver Broncos and finish 8-8. With nine seconds left in regulation, the Raiders blocked a field goal attempt to clinch the win in Denver. This game wasn’t about the playoff standings but the bragging rights of sweeping a division opponent. Getting this win will bring confidence coming into a critical off-season for the Raiders organization. It came down to the final gun like last season’s week 17 matchup, but this time the Raiders came out victorious. The stars shined for Las Vegas, with Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs playing tremendously. Derek Carr engineered another 4th quarter comeback to get his team to .500 and something positive to take away. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock will need to have a busy off-season to get back into the playoffs.
Waller Breaks Record
Darren Waller needed seven catches to break the Raiders’ single-season receptions record held by Tim Brown. Last week Waller broke the team’s single-season record for receptions by a tight end. On Sunday, Waller had nine receptions for 117 yards with a touchdown along with the game-winning two-point conversion. Still early in his career, Waller has become one of the best tight ends in football. Derek Carr relies on Waller as he is the main target on offense. This story is one of the best you’ll ever hear, with Waller overcoming his early-career drug addiction. He is an inspiration to all because of his struggle and triumphs to get back into the NFL.
Carr Leads Comeback
Derek Carr led another 4th quarter comeback drive that finished with a touchdown and two-point conversion for the win. No matter what has been said about Carr, he proved to be a clutch quarterback. Carr got the ball with 1:47 on the clock and drove the ball down to the one-yard line. Josh Jacobs ran it in for a touchdown making the score 30-31 with a two-point try on the way. Going for the tie would have been useless with the Raiders not going to the playoffs. The trial went to Darren Waller on a slant route, and the Raiders took the lead 32-21. There was no doubt watching Carr drive down-field that they were going for two after the touchdown. 2020 was an inconsistent year for Carr at times, but overall he made significant strides under Jon Gruden.
The Raiders leave Mile High as winners and finish their season 8-8. This game was not for playoff purposes, but a confidence booster for the organization after a tough stretch. Sweeping a division rival like the Broncos will feel satisfying no matter when it happens. There will be many moves made at the coaching staff level and players cut from their roster spot. Missing the playoffs this year disappointed me because of where this team’s ceiling was. With the season over, expect the Raiders to be ultra-aggressive in free agency and the draft. Las Vegas can compete every week, but it needs a defense that can keep up their end. The return to glory is not too far behind for the silver-and-black.