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5 things we learned from Raiders’ 26-19 loss to Bengals

This was a typical 2021 season Las Vegas game

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Las Vegas Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals
Derek Carr
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders were close-game superheroes in this wild 2021 season. They were the second NFL team to go 4-0 in overtime. They were 7-2 in one-score games, and they won their final four games of the season to make the playoffs by a total of 12 points.

On Saturday, though, Las Vegas’ season ended in another heart-thumper and they saw it all go away with an interception near the goal line in the final seconds.

Let’s look at this wild game that ends an even more wild season:

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Las Vegas Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals
Rich Bisaccia
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Bisaccia’s future:
Now that the season is suddenly over, the conversation will turn to the future of interim head coach Rich Bisaccia. Will he get the job on a full-time basis or will Las Vegas owner Mark Davis go on a full-blown coaching search? NFL Media reported on Saturday morning that Bisaccia probably needed to win in Cincinnati to get the job and he may not be the favorite.

After the game, Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr said Bisaccia “is the right guy” for the job and made it clear the locker room wants him back. It will be interesting to see if Davis listens. Bisaccia deserves great credit for navigating the Raiders through a crazy season and it’s remarkable it ended in the postseason. However, there were many questionable decision on Saturday that may make Davis think his team is close to being a real Super Bowl contender, but it needs another coach. We should know quickly what direction Davis decides to go in.

Turnovers hurt Carr again:
The first playoff game for Carr will be remembered for turnovers, something that has haunted him his entire career. He lost his 14th fumble of the season in the first quarter, setting up a Bengals’ field goal and he threw an interception on the Raiders’ final offensive play of the game with the game on the line. In fact, the entire play call was odd. There is no guarantee that the Raiders would have even scored if Carr made the play. NFL Media had an interesting story about Carr’s future in Las Vegas on Saturday morning. There are a lot of decisions coming and perhaps Carr’s future will be among them. This would be a tough way to leave Las Vegas for him if that’s the case. For his part, Carr certainly acted like he’s going to be a Raider in 2022 during his post-game presser.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Las Vegas Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals
Ja’Marr Chase
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Chase has big game:
The Bengals were the better team on Saturday and the Cincinnati win was fueled by the connection of quarterback Joe Burrow and rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. He had 116 yards on nine catches. He had 32 yards receiving when the Bengals beat the Raiders in Las Vegas in November. He was a much bigger factor Saturday.

Penalties a problem again:
The officials had all kinds of problems in this game. there were poor calls on both sides highlighted by the blown whistle that gave Cincinnati a touchdown in the second quarter.

But the Raiders didn’t help themselves. On a key third-quarter drive they had three penalties on the offensive line. Penalties were a problem for Las Vegas all season (they led the NFL with 1,104 penalty yards) and it hurt them in this game as well. First-round pick, guard Alex Leatherwood struggled with penalties all season and he had some big ones Saturday,

Too many field goals again:
A lot of the Raiders’ issues in this game were season-long problems. One of them was red-zone production. They made it to the red zone five times and came away with one touchdown. Daniel Carlson was his usual helpful self with four field goals, but the offseason task has to be away to finish drives. It was extremely fitting that the Raider’s ultimate demise was with them team in the red zone.