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Raiders-Broncos recap: Ending the season the right way

An instant review of Week 18

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Raiders
Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders completed a topsy-turvy 2023 season with a convincing 27-14 home win over the hated Denver Broncos.

Let’s take a look at the key aspects of the game:

Records: The Las Vegas Raiders finished 8-9. The Denver Broncos finished 8-9

What it means:

The Broncos have never beaten the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders have won eight straight games over Denver since they moved to Las Vegas from Oakland in 2020. The Broncos last victory over the Raiders came in the final game of the 2019 season. The Raiders’ eight-game winning streak against the Broncos is the longest in this series since Denver beat Oakland eight straight games spanning 2011-15. Raiders’ interim head coach Antonio Pierce went 5-4 after taking over for the fired Josh McDaniels. Pierce beat all three AFC West opponents and he went 3-1 in the division. The Raiders went 4-2 in the AFC West and will finish in second place in the division because they swept the Broncos. The Raiders went 6-3 at Allegiant Stadium this season. Now, Pierce waits to see if he will remain the Raiders’ coach.

Turning point:

After an Aidan O’Connell fumble was overturned, the Raiders took over from the second quarter, which was highlighted by a 12-play, 98-yard touchdown drive. The Raiders cruised in the second half.

Injury report:

Aidan O’Connell hurt his index finger and had to miss a series in the third quarter. He was briefly replaced by former starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

Another good defensive start:

The Raiders’ defense forced Denver to go three and out on the first drive of the game. It was the 11th time the Raiders’ defense forced a three-and-out to start the game. It was the most in the NFL.

Crosby sets mark:

Raiders’ star pass-rusher Maxx Crosby finished with 90 tackles. it was the most by any Raiders’ defensive lineman in a season. It was just the fifth time this century a defensive lineman had 90 tackles or more. He finished with 14.5 sacks and 23 tackles for losses. Both were career highs. It was another brilliant season by the Raider’s superstar pass-rusher.

What a punter:
Raiders’ Pro Bowl punter A.J. Cole had a 66-yard punt in the first quarter and had 15 punts of 60-plus yards this season. It set a team record for a franchise famous for legendary punters.

Bad look:

A Denver television station reported how bad the grass in one of the end zones looked prior to Sunday’s game. the reporter described the grass as “disgusting.” That’s inexcusable by the grounds crew. Allegiant Stadium is too new and nice for that to happen on an NFL game day. The players deserve much better.

What’s next: It’s the offseason. The focus is now on the head-coaching search, then free agency and the draft. Another big offseason looms for this franchise.