The Las Vegas Raiders were good enough to compete, but not good enough to win consistently for most of the 2022 season.
Saturday, in a merciful ending to a bitterly disappointing season, the Raiders were outclassed by the jewel of the AFC West and they were slapped around at home by the Kansas City Chiefs 31-13. And it wasn’t as close as the score indicated as the Chiefs toyed with Las Vegas, in front of many fans donned in red, at times as they clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. It was just the second loss of the season that wasn’t a one-score game and just the fourth of the 17-game season for the 6-11 Raiders.
Here are seven keys to the game:
The Raiders fell to 3-3 in the AFC west this season and 4-4 at home. they went 2-7 on the road. The Chiefs, who led 24-3 at halftime, have led by 21 points or more at halftime in five games with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. Three of those games have come against the Raiders, The Chiefs have outscored the Raiders 107-58 in three games at Allegiant Stadium.
You can blame it on Derek Carr, who’s days in Las Vegas are likely over. But the fact is the Raiders were a 10-7 playoff team last season and added Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. This was supposed to be a season where the Raiders made a long playoff run. instead, they went 6-11 and will have a top-10 draft pick. The Raiders were arguably the biggest disappointment in the NFL in 2022 and that falls on first-year coach Josh McDaniels. He is 17-28 as an NFL head coach. Whatever the Raiders do this offseason next year will be about McDaniels having to show he can be an NFL head coach and that’s in major question. The Raiders looked out of sync Saturday and it’s Week 18. There were coaching issues all season long. The Raiders became the fifth NFL team to have a 1,500 rusher (Josh Jacobs) and a 1,500-yard receiver (Davante Adams). The other four teams went to the playoffs. What a waste and it’s on McDaniels and his staff.
Jacobs plays for dad:
Jacobs played perhaps his final game as a Raider with huge inspiration. His father, Marty, had emergency heart surgery this week in Tulsa and it required Jacobs to take some time away from the team. His father asked his son to play and he did, complete ‘pops’ written in eye black on his face.
Jacobs finished with 45 yards on 17 carries. He finished the season with 1,653 yards. He leads Cleveland’s Nick Chubb (1,448) and Tennessee’s Derrick Henry (1,429). Jacobs is primed to be the Raiders’ first NFL rushing king since Marcus Allen (1,759 yards in 16 games) did it in 1985. Jacobs is a free agent and will either be franchised tagged, extended or hit the open market in March. it was a hell of a year by a tailback who opened the year by playing in the Hall of Fame game in August.
Stidham is so-so:
Jarrett Stidham was a revelation in Week 17 as he tore up the NFL’s best defense as he threw for 365 yards, three touchdown passes and led the team to 34 points in an overtime loss to the 49ers. It was an incredible effort in his first NFL start. He was the talk of the league in the Raiders’ first-post Carr outing. This week, he was much less effective. Now, Stidham made some nice plays and he showed goog mobility as he ran for 50 yards. But, he also took some lumps. He is a free agent and McDaniels, who helped draft him in New England and then traded for this year, will likely want him back. But at this point, it may be more as a backup than a starter. But we shall see how the quarterback plan shakes out this offseason.
Tough day for offensive line:
Whatever the Raiders do at quarterback, they have to work on the offensive line. The unit was game, but it struggled a lot. the season ended with Kansas City getting six sacks and defensive lineman Chris Jones wrecking shop with 2.5 sacks. Again, improving this unit is a must this offseason.
Playing for Damar:
This was the first NFL game since Buffalo Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field Monday night at Cincinnati and the game had to be cancelled. The entire NFL is supporting Hamlin with jersey patches and No. 3 highlighted on the field among other tributes. There was a pre-game tribute to Hamlin, who is making excellent progress in a Cincinnati hospital.
Players, coaches and personnel for both the Raiders and the Chiefs wore shirts of support for Hamlin. This was a terrible event that has drawn the entire league closer.
Lots of red, again:
Last week, Allegiant Stadium was filled by an estimated 75 percent of San Francisco 49ers fans. This week, it was a sea of red again as many Kansas City fans made the trip to Las Vegas as they did last year.
This has become a sticking point in the two seasons in which fans have been allowed into Allegiant Stadium. If a fan base travels well, the odds are they will swarm Allegiant Stadium. With home games against the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings in 2023 (both fan bases are noted for traveling well), the same trend will likely continue. Raiders’ owner Mark Davis reportedly is upset by the trend, but it’s unlikely there’s much that can be done. Las Vegas is a destination. So, this is something that Davis will likely have to get used to something that was definitely not an issue when the franchise was based in Oakland. Also, the Raiders need to learn how to win at Allegiant Stadium in general. The Raiders are 11-14 when playing in Las Vegas.