Carlson kicks Raiders into playoffs for second time in 20 years
Sitting at 6-7 four weeks ago, the Las Vegas Raiders are now heading to the NFL Playoffs.
Las Vegas needed all of the 70 minutes to beat the Los Angeles Chargers, 35-32, in overtime Sunday, Jan. 9 from Allegiant Stadium.
The Raiders end the regular season on a season-high four-game winning streak to finish the year at 10-7 and 3-3 in the division.
Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia took over after Week 5 and turned in a 7-5 record during his tenure to help Las Vegas reach the playoffs.
It’s only the second time the franchise has made the postseason since losing the Super Bowl in 2002.
In the process, the Raiders kept the Chargers out of the playoffs in a scenario where a tie would’ve sent both teams to the postseason.
The win also avenges a Week 4 28-14 loss to Los Angeles in SoFi Stadium.
Half of the team’s win total this season came in game-winning fashion off the foot of kicker Daniel Carlson.
With two seconds left in overtime, Carlson trotted out with a chance to send Las Vegas to the NFL postseason for the first time ever.
As he had done four times prior this season, Carlson sent the football through the uprights as the Raider sideline erupted.
He has now made 38 consecutive home field goals, the longest active streak in the NFL. He has never missed a field goal at Allegiant Stadium.
Carlson went five-for-five on the night with a long of 52 yards, accounting for 17 of the Las Vegas points including two made extra points.
At the conclusion of the season, Carlson ends up tied for first in the NFL for points scored. New England kicker Nick Folk is the other.
In the most important game of the season, the Raiders showed great discipline despite being one of the league’s most penalized teams coming into the final week of the season.
The Chargers were penalized 10 times for 108 yards while the Raiders committed four penalties for 38 yards.
After a season engulfed in issues on third down, Las Vegas went 8-for-17 in such situations while holding its opponent to 4-of-18.
Two of those eight conversions came in spectacular fashion.
To open the game, quarterback Derek Carr found tight end Foster Moreau for 50 yards despite fumbling at the one-yard line.
Later in the game, backup running back Jalen Richard converted a third and 23 on a run up the middle.
While Los Angeles went six-of-seven on fourth downs, it was the lone non-conversion that could have altered the game’s outcome.
In the third quarter, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley opted to go for it on fourth and one from their own 18-yard line.
At that time, the Raiders were up 17-14.
Perhaps the move was intuitive because Los Angeles kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a 51-yard field goal the previous drive.
In addition, Staley’s decision to go for it on fourth and two early in the second quarter turned into seven points a play later from running back Austin Ekeler to cut the deficit to three.
Carr went 20-for-36, throwing for 186 yards and two touchdowns; advancing to his second playoffs, the first that he’s expected to play in.
In 2017, Carr missed the team’s wild card game against the Houston Texans with a broken leg.
In the first quarter of the season finale, Carr found wide receiver Hunter Renfrow in the end zone to race out to a 10-0 lead.
The catch gave Renfrow 100 on the season, making him the second Raider pass catcher in team history to reach triple-digits.
By the end of the game, Renfrow had four catches for 13 yards with two touchdowns. He ends the season with 103 receptions, one behind Hall-of-Famer Tim Brown for the franchise record.
Tight end Darren Waller also returned to the lineup after missing the last five games with a knee injury.
He caught two passes for 22 yards in his return.
Running back Josh Jacobs rushed for a career-high 132 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown.
He has rushed for 100 or more yards in two of the last three weeks and has scored touchdowns on the ground in back-to-back weeks.
A couple of ex-Chargers put their fingerprints on the game as well in the season finale win.
Defensive tackle Darius Philon tallied four tackles, three solo with one tackle for loss and a pass deflection. He also had two quarterback hurries.
Philon played the first four years of his career with the Chargers before signing with the Raiders this offseason.
Late in the fourth quarter, Philon appeared to injure his knee and would be carted off the field and did not return.
Cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. also had an outstanding day against his former team three tackles, three pass deflections and an interception.
Hayward Jr. spent the last five seasons with the Charger organization.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Prior to the start of the game, all lights were turned off in Allegiant Stadium as the entire building held up camera phone lights in honor of former Raider head coach John Madden, who passed away Dec. 28.
Madden’s widow, Virginia, lit the Al Davis Memorial Torch in honor of both Davis, Madden and the host of players who played under their regime.