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Raiders in Review: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A once promising season came to an unceremonious end Sunday in Denver as the Raiders scored a dramatic victory to finish with a pedestrian 8-8 record.

Their road to mediocrity was paved with everything from delusions of grandeur to far too many speed bumps along the way.

Here’s a look at the good, the bad and ugly of the pandemic-plagued inaugural season in Las Vegas:

The Good

1 — Raiders 40, Chiefs 32

The defending champions lost just once with their regulars on the field and it came at home in October to the Raiders. Derek Carr threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns while the defense sacked Patrick Mahomes three times and intercepted him to set up a score.

2 — Raiders 34, Saints 24

Kansas City wasn’t the only Super Bowl contender to fall to the Raiders this season. The Saints came to Las Vegas to help open Allegiant Stadium in September and their only souvenir was a loss.

3 — Raiders 16, Browns 6

Wind chill in the 20s combined with howling winds gusting over 40 miles per hour and a freezing rain phenomenon known as graupel to wreak havoc on the passing and kicking games. Somehow, the team from the desert found a way to go on the road to Cleveland and knock off a playoff team,

4— Raiders 37, Broncos 12

This was the most complete performance of the season for the Raiders as they blew out one of their most hated rivals. The Raiders forced five turnovers, including four interceptions of Drew Lock.

5 — Raiders 34, Panthers 30

Josh Jacobs ran for 93 yards and three touchdowns as the Raiders went across the country in the season opener and picked up a win. The Raiders’ defense gave up nearly 400 yards, but did come up with a big fourth-and-1 stop near midfield with 1:23 left to help seal the win.

6 — Raiders 31, Chargers 26

In their first of what figures to be many meetings against Chargers’ rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, the Raiders survived two throws into the end zone in the final seconds, The second pass was initially called a touchdown only to be reversed on replay.

The Bad

1 — Buccaneers 45, Raiders 20

The Raiders had absolutely no answer for Tom Brady in the future Hall of Famer’s first game in Las Vegas. Brady threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns as the Buccaneers pulled away with 21 points in the fourth quarter.

2 — Chargers 30, Raiders 27, OT

The Raiders’ playoff hopes were dealt a massive blow with their second home loss in five days. The Raiders settled for a field goal on the first possession of overtime and allowed the Chargers to go right back down the field for the game-winning touchdown on Herbert’s 1-yard run.

3 — Colts 44, Raiders 27

Rookie Jonathan Taylor racked up 150 yards and two scores on 20 carries and veteran receiver T.Y. Hilton had his only two-touchdown game of the season. The defense was bad enough in the loss to get coordinator Paul Guenther fired immediately after the game.

4 — Bills 30, Raiders 23

There was no real shame in losing to one of the AFC’s best teams by seven points, Derek Carr threw for 311 yards and two scores, but the Raiders weren’t able to generate much of a rushing attack in a game they trailed 17-16 going to the fourth quarter.

5 — Chiefs 35, Raiders 31

One of the most disappointing games of the season, this wouldn’t be out of place in either the good or ugly category either. It falls in the bad category mostly because the disappointment was one of the catalysts for a 1-5 stretch that followed.

The Ugly

1 — Falcons 43, Raiders 6

Not much needs to be said apart from the final score here. The worst part is how predictable it was at the time. All week the focus was on how similar the circumstances of the game were to the 2019 meltdown against the Jets. Yet the Raiders let it happen again.

2 — Dolphins 26, Raiders 25

Jon Gruden instructed his offense to avoid scoring a touchdown to run time off the clock, settling for a field goal and a 25-19 lead, even though the Dolphins weren’t trying to stop them. Miami got the ball with just 19 seconds remaining and no timeouts, but a blown coverage was compounded by an egregious facemask penalty by Arden Key on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Raiders somehow found a way to lose.

3 — Raiders 31, Jets 28

Even wins can be ugly. The Raiders needed an absolute miracle to steal a victory from a winless team as the Jets oddly decided to send an all-out blitz on the final play of the game. Derek Carr heaved it down the left sideline and rookie first-round pick Henry Ruggs beat man coverage for his most impactful play of the season.

4 — Patriots 36, Raiders 20

The Raiders made the Patriots look like the team that dominated the AFC East for the last two decades and not the one that finished 7-9 this season. New England ran for 250 yards as a team and forced three turnovers to hand the Raiders their first loss of the season.

5 — Raiders 32, Broncos 31

The saying goes a win is a win, but some aren’t as pretty as others. In a season finale between rivals with no hope for the postseason, the play was far from aesthetically pleasing. The Raiders won on a successful 2-point conversion in the final minute followed by a blocked field goal in the closing seconds.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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