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Las Vegas stays alive with walk-off win against New England

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Las Vegas defensive lineman Chandler Jones walks off the field following his game-winning touchdown against New England Sunday, Dec. 18. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

With their backs against the wall, the Las Vegas Raiders made the big play with time expiring and stormed the field following the team’s third walk-off win of the season. As a result, the team stayed alive for a potential postseason berth.

Las Vegas staved off disaster, beating New England, 30-24, from Allegiant Stadium Sunday, Dec. 18. A loss would’ve meant the team would be eliminated from playoff contention.

“This is football,” head coach Josh McDaniels said. “It’s not a predictable game sometimes and the ending – that’s probably the most insane ending I think I’ve ever been a part of. But we’ll take it, we’ll take it for sure.”

By beating the Patriots, the Raiders dealt a big blow to the team’s hopes for advancing to the playoffs, sending them to a 7-7 record in the process.

“It’s football,” McDaniels said. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the people over there and I’ll never forget that. But I think I’m happiest for the group in our locker room.”

With three more games on the schedule, the Raiders are now 6-8 and will prepare for another contest on the backend of a short week.

Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels embraces defensive lineman Chandler Jones after the team's 30-24 win over the Patriots. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

“We’re not even thinking about the playoffs honestly,” defensive end Chandler Jones said. “It’s just the next game. We go out to play the [Pittsburgh] Steelers and hopefully we can play our best football in order to beat them.”

A Christmas Eve matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers awaits Las Vegas with kickoff slated for 5:15 p.m. That game will mark the 50-year anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception.”

The Raiders will be playing in their third primetime game of the season.

While the team’s latest win was the team’s third walk-off win of the season, it was secured by its third different player in the aforementioned Jones.

He picked off a lateral attempt, being credited for a fumble recovery in the process, and returned it 48 yards for the game-winning score. “That’s like a Hollywood script that’s unwritten,” Jones said. “Never in a million years do you think it’ll go down like that but you just keep playing. That just goes to show you, you keep playing football no matter what.”

Over the last three games, Jones has racked up 11 tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

Las Vegas defensive lineman Chandler Jones stiff arms New England quarterback Mac Jones during his game-winning touchdown run. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

“This is year No. 11 for me,” Jones said. “I’m 32 years old, I’ve been playing football in the NFL for over a decade. So when it comes to people talking about slumps or negative [stuff], you can’t get too narrow and get too focused on one thing. You kind of have to stay level-headed and focused and the rest will take care of itself.”

That game-winning play by the defense was set up by a nine-play, 81-yard drive that elapsed just over one minute of game time to tie the game at 24 apiece.

Quarterback Derek Carr found receiver Keelan Cole with 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter for a 30-yard touchdown. While it was called a touchdown on the field, the review from officials took several minutes.

“I think the biggest thing they were trying to determine was really a clear angle that you could say without a shadow of a doubt that it has to be overturned,” McDaniels said. “Usually when they call it a touchdown and it takes that long – if you’re the team that wants it to be a touchdown, that’s usually a good sign.”

Cole led the team in receiving with 50 yards on two receptions.

Raiders receiver Keelan Cole goes up high for a game-tying 30-yard touchdown against the Patriots inside Allegiant Stadium. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

That scoring drive didn’t look so promising as the team opened the series with three straight incompletions before receiver Mack Hollins hauled in a 12-yard pass to set up a first down. Hollins also had a touchdown grab on the day.

Carr finished with 231 through the air on 20-for-38 passing with three touchdowns and an interception.

New England made a conscious effort to take away receiver Davante Adams, who picked up 28 yards on four catches.

“Like most teams have done, they paid a lot of attention to Davante,” McDaniels said. “They were trying to really avoid him beating them, which they did a pretty good job of that. We had a couple of opportunities but I thought the other guys really had to come up and step up big and they made the plays they needed to make.”

The passing game was boosted by the return of receiver Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller. Renfrow reeled in one catch for 14 yards while Waller racked up 48 yards on three receptions.

Waller also eclipsed 3,294 yards receiving for his career and now he has the second-most receiving yards of any tight end in franchise history. He now only sits behind two-time Super Bowl champion Todd Christensen’s 5,872 yards.

Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller takes it all in after hauling in a touchdown pass in his return to the Raider lineup. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

Las Vegas nearly let another double-digit second half lead turn into a loss for the fifth time this season. Largely on the strength of 21 unanswered points by New England coming out of halftime.

Centennial High School graduate and Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson put the visitors ahead for the first time in the game on a 34-yard touchdown run.

“We had some success running the ball early,” McDaniels said. “Then that obviously tapered off a little bit. We stopped them with some things early and they made some adjustments and found some success certainly with the running game in the second half. [New England head coach Bill Belichick] is the best ever.”

It didn’t help matters that the Raiders piled up 90 penalty yards on 13 flags.

“They’re unforced errors,” McDaniels said. “We like to pride ourselves on not beating ourselves and we certainly put ourselves in a lot of holes today.”


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