With 11-straight running plays in the fourth quarter, the Indianapolis Colts gave the Las Vegas Raiders a taste of their own medicine in a 23-20 win on Sunday. And the Silver & Black’s flicker of playoff hopes are fully extinguished.
It was a role reversal from a week prior to the Silver & Black as that style of bully ball allowed the team to walk out of Arrowhead 20-14 victors. And in Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts jumped on the back of running back Jonathan Taylor (21 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown) to trample the Raiders.
Point two questionable calls on Las Vegas cornerback Jack Jones — a pass interference infraction with the ball sailing out of bounds and the offsides penalty that negated a missed field goal — all you want as a reasons why Indianapolis won and kept its postseason aspirations alive at 9-7 (the team must beat the Houston Texans in the regular season finale to make it in as a wild card squad).
But interim head coach Antonio Pierce isn’t one to play that game. He was cut and dry on what happened: His team is responsible for the defeat.
“We’ve been pretty good as far as being focused pre-snap. That didn’t happen today on both sides of the ball,” Pierce said up at the podium during the postgame press conference. “Again, that kind of costs you in a game like this where it comes down to three points.
“That’s (the) Raiders beating themselves. For seven games at least we haven’t done that. Today it kind of came up and it bit us.”
While the loss to the Colts put the nail in the coffin regarding the Raiders’ playoff push, the several missed opportunities over the course of the 2023 campaign eroded the team’s chances — not just this one game in particular.
And Pierce is well aware of that fact.
“Even if we won this game, there wasn’t no guarantee we were getting in the playoffs anyway,” Pierce noted. “A lot of things had to go our way. One thing I’ll say, these men in this locker room, these coaches, they love playing, they love being Raiders, proud about being Raiders. “I’m proud of coaching these guys. We’re going to keep rolling and keep fighting.”
Strangely enough, by the time the Raiders got rolling and fighting against the Colts, it was too little, too late. Las Vegas came out uncharacteristically timid and that lack of confidence and conviction affected both sides of the ball. So much so, the team was mistake prone and incurred penalties — something the group has been able to avoid for the most part with Pierce at the helm. Which netted the Raiders a less-than-typical ballgame than they’re accustomed to.
“For the most part, we’ve been playing really good football when we play field position. Typically, our defense has done a good job when they are backed up, keeping teams backed up. That might not have been the case every time today.”
And thus, Las Vegas has one more game on tap: A home date with the similarly eliminated from the playoffs Denver Broncos (8-8) this Sunday for an afternoon kickoff.
Let’s hit the quick slants as fast as the Colts duped the Raiders defense for two long passes:
—Las Vegas wide receiver Davante Adams dominated targets in the passing game with a whopping 21. He did produce hauling in 13 of those passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Adams’ second touchdown catch is one to behold (see below). But the reliance and tunnel vision on Adams may have cost rookie Tre Tucker a wide open long touchdown pass.
—Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell finished 30 of 47 for 299 yards and two touchdowns while absorbing two sacks. He performed relatively well when Las Vegas went to a more pass-heavy approach to come back. But O’Connell’s lack of functional mobility to extend plays or even move the chains with his legs remains a major drawback.
—Colts wide receivers Alec Pierce and Josh Downs were on the receiving end of two deep passes from quarterback Gardner Minshew. Pierce’s was a 58-yard catch and run for a score while Downs was a 50-yard catch and run. Both plays saw the wideouts running free and away from Raiders defenders.
—Running back Zamir White ran for 71 yards on 20 carries and caught five passes for 35 yads for the Raiders. He’s filled in admirably for workhorse starting tailback Josh Jacobs (quad injury) and may get another start if Jacobs isn’t good to go in the season finale.
—The penalty tally read: Seven infractions for 54 yards for Las Vegas and five for 52 yards for Indianapolis. The two calls on Jones are glaring, but the flags were thrown on both teams.
Quote of Note:
“It’s about discipline and consistency and we didn’t really display that today. We definitely had been better. We’ve been the least penalized team and today, situationally, we didn’t do that.” —Raiders wide receiver on the team’s performance in Indianapolis