The Las Vegas Raiders overcame a midgame dry spell in the midst of a 38-20 win over the Houston Texans from Allegiant Stadium Sunday, Oct. 23.
Coming into the game, both teams were a combined 2-7-1 through the first six weeks of the season.
“We talked a lot about a few things in the bye week,” head coach Josh McDaniels said. “We saw some fruits of our labor show up today.”
Over the last five seasons, the Raiders have gone 0-5 after a bye week, losing by an average of 17.8 points per game.
The win improves the team’s record to 2-4 on the year, currently good for a tie for third place in the AFC West. Currently, Las Vegas holds the tiebreaker over Denver in the division record and head-to-head categories.
Both of the team’s wins have come at Allegiant Stadium.
Las Vegas now has back-to-back road games on the schedule beginning with a trip to New Orleans.
The Raiders will play the Saints Sunday, Oct. 30 with kickoff set for 10 a.m. from the Caesars Superdome.
“Every game we’ve played basically has come down to what happens in the fourth quarter,” McDaniels said. “Today was no different [...] Good to win at home again and excited to have an opportunity to go out on the road and try to do the same.”
Running back Josh Jacobs posted triple-digit rushing yards for the third consecutive game, helping Las Vegas fend off a feverous Houston defense.
“It’s hard to have self-satisfaction because obviously, we’re still on the bottom end of the winning pole,” Jacobs said. “And then it’s still a long season. If I don’t play [well] the rest of the season then everything I did up to now doesn’t really mean anything. “The biggest thing for me is man, I want to get in the playoffs. I want to go on a run and actually feel what it feels like to actually experience that.”
Jacobs picked up 143 yards on the ground and three touchdowns on 20 carries. He has compiled 441 yards and six touchdowns over the last three games.
His third and final touchdown on the day gave the Raiders the lead for good in the fourth quarter.
Since entering the league in 2019, Jacobs has scored multiple touchdowns in 10 games which is the second-most since that time.
Coming out of halftime, Jacobs saw his workload get an immediate lift, rushing for 39 yards on five carries during Las Vegas’ first drive of the second half. He had 45 yards on 10 touches in the first half.
“There were some subtle little adjustments that we tried to make,” McDaniels said. “I didn’t think we played very clean in the first half [...] Just talked about trying to do our jobs a little better. We expected the game to come down to the fourth quarter.”
Jacobs ended that drive with his first touchdown of the day, marking a third straight game where he has scored.
The passing game had a brief scare early in this one when starting quarterback Derek Carr was slow to get up after converting a third down pass for a new set of downs. Carr would miss one play before returning to action and remaining for the duration.
Carr had it going with former college teammate, Davante Adams, who racked up 95 yards on eight receptions. Fellow receiver Hunter Renfrow accounted for 55 yards on three catches.
Tight end Darren Waller missed his first game of the year dealing with a hamstring injury.
Quarterback Derek Carr went 21-for-27, throwing for 241 yards and a touchdown to receiver Mack Hollins, who made the leaping grab through two Texan defenders.
The Achilles heel for Las Vegas came on the defensive end and getting off the field on third downs.
Houston converted on five of its first six third down attempts to start the game. To that point, the Texans had run 14 plays on the Raiders’ side of the field while the home team had just four on the other side of the field.
Houston took its first lead of the game early in the second quarter on a third down touchdown pass. That lead would soon be extended to seven after a 59-yard field goal from Ka’imi Fairbairn.
“Sometimes you have a good week of practice, which we did and you come out and it’s 10-3,” McDaniels said. “Like why isn’t it easier than what it is. And the reason is because the other team is pretty good, well-coached and football is tough – the National Football League is hard.”
The Texans took its first second half lead on another touchdown pass on third down from quarterback Davis Mills, who went 28-for-41 with 302 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
That interception came late in the fourth quarter and fell into the arms of safety Duron Harmon, who took the pick 73 yards for the defensive touchdown.
The difference in the game came when Las Vegas was able to stiffen on third downs. Defensive end Maxx Crosby was at the helm of most of those stops that saw Houston go 2-for-7 on third down to close the game after the 5-for-6 start.
Crosby stopped Texans running back Dameon Pierce from getting past the line of scrimmage on a third and short. Immediately following, Houston’s offensive line was whistled for a false start, forcing them into punt formation.
Crosby was lined up on the side where the penalty was committed. He was also the catalyst of a batted ball at the line on a third down late in the game as part of a 21-0 fourth quarter for Las Vegas.