Even with a new lead man at the helm, the road woes continued for the Las Vegas Raiders this past weekend after a mistake-filled game prevented the team from picking up a third straight win.
For the first time under interim head coach Antonio Pierce, Las Vegas lost, this time on the road to Miami by a final score of 20-13. It’s the first road game this season for the Raiders under Pierce as the team fell to 1-5 in such games away from Allegiant Stadium.
“[It’s] a lesson for all of us and I’ll start with AP,” Pierce said, referring to himself. “Learning lesson for me, for [offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree], for [rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell]. We’ve got to do a better job of managing the game, not putting him in those situations where Aidan has to win the game and that starts with me.”
Las Vegas (5-6) will return home now for a divisional rivalry matchup against Kansas City (7-2) from inside Allegiant Stadium Sunday, Nov. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25 p.m. The Raiders have lost the last five games against the Chiefs and 10 of the last 11 meetings.
Ultimately, not being able to turn turnovers into touchdowns on the other side of the field proved to be costly for Las Vegas in its most recent loss. The team turned three turnovers into six points on two made field goals en route to the loss.
In the first half, the Raiders forced the Dolphins into two turnovers with both being fumbles. Needing a challenge to overturn the call, linebacker Luke Masterson punched the ball free away from opposing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as safety Marcus Epps secured the recovery.
Las Vegas’ new drive began at the Miami 31-yard line but would end in a 34-yard field goal make by kicker Daniel Carlson to give the team a three-point lead. A touchdown grab by receiver Davante Adams with one second left in the quarter gave the team another three-point lead later in the frame on his way to 84 receiving yards and that score on seven catches.
History repeated itself late in the second quarter after defensive back Nate Hobbs forced a fumble before it was scooped up and tucked at the Dolphins’ 31-yard line by linebacker Divine Deablo. That drive also ended with a field goal make by Carlson just before halftime, who went 2-for-2 on the day with a long of 47 yards.
“I just wanted to protect a young quarterback,” Pierce said. “We’re going to get points on the board [...] didn’t want to have anything happen that would be a negative for us.”
The second half brought more of the same as safety Isaiah Pola-Moa ended the first Miami drive of the third quarter with the first interception of his career and the third turnover forced of the game by Las Vegas. That ensuing drive would stall and end in a punt.
Even when the Dolphins made miscues that weren’t turnovers, the Raiders couldn’t find ways to capitalize. After a missed field goal later in the third quarter, O’Connell would give the ball back to the offense after the first of his three interceptions on the day.
Miami defensive back Jalen Ramsey was responsible for coming up with two of the three interceptions thrown by the rookie out of Purdue including one that killed the final offensive drive for Las Vegas.
“I think it was 20 seconds left with no timeouts – I knew at some point we’re going to have to take a shot,” O’Connell said. “I saw [receiver Tre Tucker] had a little step, again I hung it up there too much and the defender made a really good play.”
On that final drive, O’Connell and the Raiders had gone 2-for-2 on third downs after being held to just 2-for-12 through the first 58 minutes of the game. O’Connell would finish with 271 yards on 24-for-41 passing with a touchdown and a career-high three interceptions.
“It was a good job of mixing it up,” he said. “We’ve just got to execute better, can’t turn the ball over, it’s really on us at the end of the day to do our jobs better, me in particular.”
Las Vegas’ defense came in and produced three takeaways on an offense that had scored 30 or more points in all home games this season coupled with coming off a bye week.
Receiver Tyreek Hill made his presence felt early, hauling in a 38-yard touchdown in the game’s opening quarter just prior to Adam’s first quarter score. Hill briefly left the game in the second quarter but would return before finishing with 146 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions.
“I’m learning how hard the NFL is and how hard it is to win,” O’Connell said. “Kudos to our defense. Just played so well in the second half, kept us in the game – I think [the Dolphins] scored six points in the second half.
“It’s going to come down to our offense, watching the film and just being better all around and it starts with me.”