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Raiders’ quick slants: Broncos edition II

Las Vegas sweeps Denver as team makes strong closing statement in 27-14 victory

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Malcolm Koonce (51) celebrates his sack. That gave Koonce eight on the year. Fellow defensive end, rookie Tyree Wilson (9), also had a sack giving him 3.5 on the year.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Maxx Crosby, Malcolm Koonce, Tyree Wilson, and Adam Butler paced a furious defensive line that attacked quarterback Jarrett Stidham to the tune of five sacks. And the chants of “AP!” by Raider Nation was the cherry on top.

Such was the case in the regular season finale for the Las Vegas Raiders as they closed out the season with a 27-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon. The victory boosted Las Vegas’ final record to 8-9 overall and a second place finish in the AFC West. Denver ended with a similar 8-9 record but was swept in 2023 by the Raiders — a team that extended their win streak over their division foe to eight-straight games.

And the law firm of Crosby Koonce Wilson & Butler set the tone in the trenches. Each defensive lineman accounted for a sack — safety Isaiah Pola-Moa got the other on a heads up play — as Stidham (a familiar for the Raiders) was rarely comfortable after the snap as the Broncos signal caller.

The finale proved to be a sound closing statement for a Raiders team looking to keep Pierce as the permanent head coach. And it was a resounding finish to a 2023 campaign by Koonce and Wilson, in particular. The former proved to be a pass rush revelation opposite of Crosby as Koonce’s quarterback takedown Sunday gave him eight on the season. The latter showcased the raw talent and power/speed combination that made him the No. 7 overall pick in this past NFL Draft. Wilson’s sack gave him 3.5 on the year. A meager number, yes, but Wilson did account for four quarterback hits against Denver like Crosby.

Not to be outdone is Butler — a defensive tackle who was out of football in 2022 but returned and signed with the Raiders due to his New England Patriots ties with then-head coach Josh McDaniels and then-general manager Dave Ziegler. Butler’s sack on Sunday gave him a total of five which is impressive for a rotational interior lineman.

Offensively, running back Zamir White continued to make his mark as the lead back galloping for 112 yards on 25 carries (a long of 25 yards). That tally gives him 397 rushing yards on 84 carries and one touchdown in the last four games. The second-year back showcased he can carry the load when asked and a strong offseason cements that.

Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, meanwhile, is a free agent acquisition hit as he rushed for a score and caught a 33-yard dime for another end zone visit on Sunday. He tallied 71 receptions for 807 yard and seven touchdowns as a receiver while scoring as a rusher and thrower in his first season in Silver & Black.

Rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell, on the other hand, had an efficient outing going 20 of 31 for 244 yards and two touchdown throws — one to Meyers and the other to wide out Davante Adams. O’Connell ends with 2,218 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions in a season where he was thrust into the starting quarterback role. The offseason looms large for his potential to be QB1 in Las Vegas again.

Let’s hit the quick slants as Raiders rookie wide receiver Tre Tucker runs past defensive backs:

—Tucker led Las Vegas’ passing attack with five catches for 79 yards. His 47-yard grab put the offense in prime position to find the end zone (Adams’ grab) to make it 17-7 right before halftime.

—Linebackers Robert Spillane and Divine Deablo led the Raiders defense in total tackles with 12 and 10 respectively. The duo pace the team overall as Spillane was another free agency hit with his 148 total stops while Deablo ends with 106.

—Punter AJ Cole III capped off another impressive season for the Raiders with four punts for 234 yards (a long of 66) for a healthy 58.5 average per boot. He headed into the season finale with a 50.0 average (43.3 net) and it’s no surprise to see him earn another Pro Bowl nod.

—Kicker Daniel Carlson was money as usual for Las Vegas going 2-for-2 on field goals (long of 49) and 3-for-3 on extra points against Denver. He finishes 26 of 30 on field goals this season and 32 of 32 on extra points.

—Safety Tre’Von Moehrig snared the Raiders’ lone interception on Sunday. The sliding grab gives Moehrig three on the season and ties him for the team lead with Spillane.

—Zero penalties. That’s the amount of infractions Las Vegas had. An impressive feat considering the Raiders have long been the poster child for mistake-prone squad.

—The win puts the Raiders at the No. 13 pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. The Broncos meanwhile, will pick ahead at No. 12 overall.

Quote of Note:

“Yeah, I think AP (Antonio Pierce) shows his emotions. I think he’s not going to hide what he’s feeling, and so we appreciate that from him. He’s honest, he’s open, he’s vulnerable with us. And so, you can get behind somebody like that. For him, he’s been through so much, for him to take this role and to lead us the way he has, has been awesome. And we’ve been in basically every game that he’s coached. And so, again, just can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me and for our team.” —Las Vegas Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell on interim head coach Antonio Pierce