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Raiders-Colts: Defense, emotion can’t save another day as season goes up in smoke

Mistakes and bad offense seal Raiders’ season fate

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts
Antonio Pierce, Greg Van Roten
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Christmas Day seems so long ago.

Just six days after a franchise highlight upset win at the Kansas City Chiefs, the Las Vegas Raiders were flat and and made several miscues in 23-20 defeat at the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. the loss officially knocked Las Vegas out of playoff contention.

The Raiders will always have the 63-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers and the 20-14 win at Arrowhead Stadium in the past two weeks. But Sunday’s loss was an example of what this 7-9 team has been much of the season and it showed that raw emotion and defensive scores (the Raiders had four defensive touchdowns in the past two games) are difficult to sustain:

Here are some key aspects of the game:

Pierce’s future:

Yes, last week, it appeared Pierce would be a lock to get the permanent job after the win over the Chiefs. The Raiders have a different intensity under Pierce and the defense has improved. Yet, they are 4-4 since Pierce took over for the fired Josh McDaniels in Week 9. They were 3-5 at the time. NFL Media reported Sunday morning that while Raiders’ owner Mark Davis is getting more and more impressed by Pierce, he still likes Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and former Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden and he wants a big name in Las Vegas. So, it seems like Pierce may not be a lock after all. Also, Pierce was delayed for nearly an hour after the game, presumably because he was in a long meeting with Davis after the team secured its 16th losing season in the past 21 seasons. It’s doubtful Davis’ decision will be made solely on next week’s finale against the visiting Denver Broncos. So, the new few weeks will be very interesting.

The draft:

April 25, 2024. That is the first round of the draft. It’s all about that day for the Raiders, who entered this week in the No. 13 slot. Expect an offseason of chatter about how the Raiders can get in position to try to trade up for Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels. It is officially that time of year again.

O’Connell’s day:

His final numbers don’t look bad as Raiders’ rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell finished completing 30 of 47 passes for 299 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. But there was some garbage time success and the Raiders’ offense couldn’t get moving much for long stretches. The fourth-round pick from Purdue also missed some open receivers or didn’t see them. The best part of O’Connell is he hasn’t thrown any interceptions in the past three games (a Pick Six was nullified by a penalty Sunday) in the past three games. Still, the Raiders will probably be looking for an upgrade at the most important position in the offseason.

Penalties rear head:

Pierce said after the game that this was the first game under his watch in which the Raiders beat themselves. They entered the game as the least penalized team in the NFL, but had seven for 54 yards Sunday. They need to clean that up next week.

Adams is so consistent:

Raiders’ star wide receiver Davante Adams had one of his biggest games of the season with 13 catches for 126 yards and two touchdown passes. Partly because of poor quarterback play, this hasn’t been a great season of Adams. but he did surpass the 1,000-yard receiving plateau for the fifth time in his 10-season NFL career. He has 98 catches for 1,098 yards and seven touchdowns. Adams, who turned 31 last week, had 100 catches for 1,526 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.

Facyson plays:

In his second game of the season after being on the injured reserve, veteran Raiders’ cornerback Brandon Facyson played some on defense in front of cornerback Amik Robertson. The Raiders like their depth at the position.

White is quiet:

Making his third straight start with Josh Jacobs sidelined with a quad injury, second-year running back Zamir White had 71 yards on 20 carries and didn’t make much of an impact. White had 145 rushing yards in the win over the Chiefs. With the Raiders out of the playoff chase, it’s worth wondering if Jacobs will be sat against Denver next week. He can be a free agent after the season, so there is a chance he has played his last down as a Raider.

Colts gave Raiders their chances:

It wasn’t to the extent of what the Chargers and Chiefs did in the past two games, but the Colts tried to keep the Raiders in the game. They set up a touchdown by roughing punter A.J. Cole on the opening drive of the second half. Then, the Colts had a Pick Six nullified by a pass-interference penalty. Still, the Raiders couldn’t take advantage,

Crosby is special:

Raiders’ superstar pass-rusher Maxx Crosby has registered his second straight season with, at least, 85 tackles. He is only the second defensive end, according to the Raiders’ public relations staff, to have two seasons of 85-plus tackles. Also, according to the Raiders’ PR team, Crosby now has 86 tackles for loss in his career and that the third most by a player in his fifth season since it became a stats in 1999. Don’t take this guy for granted, Raider Nation. The Pro Football Hall of Fame talk is real.

Defense is just OK:

The Raiders’ defense was red hot going into this game.

It wasn’t terrible against the Colts, but there were some lapses, especially in the secondary. Plus, the pass-rush wasn’t as strong as recent games. The Raiders had just one sack.

Where’s Renfrow?

O’Connell threw 47 passes and Hunter Renfrow didn’t have one completion. It was his third straight game with no catches. He had 15 of his 25 catches this season after McDaniels was fired. But he’s gone away again. Renfrow, who signed a big contract after a 103-catch season in 2021, had just 36 catches last season and has 25 catches for 255 yards in 16 games. His production decline is staggering. His problems clearly just wasn’t that McDaniels didn’t use him. It would be a surprise if he’s in Las Vegas next season.

Koonce is quiet:

Raiders’ third-year pass-rusher Malcolm Koonce has come on strong in recent weeks and he had a total of five sacks in the past two games. Yet, he was pretty quiet against the Colts and finished with two tackles.