‘Merry Christmas, Oakland’: Raiders beat Broncos in home finale
Jalen Richard scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter and jumped into the Black Hole as part of a 27-14 Raiders farewell win against the Denver Broncos. Well, maybe a farewell.
December 24, 2018 - 8:31 pm
Updated December 24, 2018 - 10:14 pm
OAKLAND, Calif. — Six men in thin, yellow Landmark Event Security jackets stood Monday evening with their backs to the game. They scanned the nearest fans in front of them, wondering who the troublemakers might be, the ones who’d attempt to rush the northwest side of the field.
That was the third quarter.
In the fourth, nine Oakland police officers joined them.
These men wouldn’t need to worry; their side would go disturbed. The south wall in front of the Black Hole, though, saw plenty of action.
Running back Jalen Richard took a shotgun handoff, followed a pancake block from right tackle Brandon Parker and crossed into the end zone for a 3-yard, fourth-quarter score. He then scaled a wall into the Black Hole, was embraced by an iconic fan wearing a Gorilla costume beneath a Santa coat, as part of a 27-14 farewell win over the Denver Broncos.
Well, maybe a farewell.
There is no telling, for certain, whether this game was the last at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. But the organization and its fans treated it as such. Quarterback Derek Carr spanned most of the field’s perimeter immediately following the game, waving to fans and throwing a football and glove into the crowd.
Some fans did rush the field upon the game’s conclusion.
They promptly were tackled and handcuffed.
Richard knew he wanted to jump into the Black Hole on Christmas Eve.
He didn’t immediately notice Gorilla Rilla.
“I was looking, looking, looking,” Richard said. “All I’d seen was the Santa Claus, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to go by him.’ And I just jumped into the Black Hole. Especially the last time here, the Black Hole, you’ve got to jump in there one more time. Sometimes you come out with beer on you or some other stuff. It’d be good though.”
Richard acknowledged he didn’t know whether it was the final Oakland game.
But he said “they felt it,” in reference to the fans, and “we felt it,” in regard to players.
“Who knows?” Richard added. “We don’t know the situation. But everyone was thinking that. To get this win when they thought it could’ve been the last one here, it feels pretty good.”
The Raiders improved to 4-11 with the win. Their projected 2019 first-round draft pick dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 overall, but Monday was about honoring the past and seizing the present, not worrying about the future.
Jon Gruden made sure his team appreciated the moment.
On Sunday evening, during a team meeting, the Raiders coach played a video clip that captured some of the historical moments and football legends to play at the Coliseum. The organization’s stadium lease expires after this season, and Monday marked the 2018 home finale. Team officials have yet to rule out a possible return to Oakland, but they are exploring various contingency sites, such as AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The potential final game opened fast.
Wide receiver Dwayne Harris took a punt return for a 99-yard touchdown five minutes into regulation. Running back Doug Martin, an Oakland native, dashed for a 24-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Those two plays keyed a 17-0 lead at halftime. The Broncos made a late push, but Richard’s run behind Parker helped put the game beyond reach.
“As a lineman, you always want to be that lead block that springs a touchdown,” Parker said. “So I felt that rush. Then I saw him celebrate in the end zone. It was just too much to take in. … Obviously, I’m a rookie. I haven’t been here a lot. But just knowing the rich history that’s here and the potential of not being here next year, it’s a lot of history we’d be leaving behind. That part is kind of sad. But you’ve still got to appreciate the fans showing up and supporting us.”
Said Martin: “I just (wanted) to get this win to them for a Christmas present. Merry Christmas, Oakland. I hope you enjoyed it, and we love you.”
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Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.