Despite the calendar turning to a new year, the Las Vegas Raiders had some of the same ghosts of the past haunt them in an overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Even with a different quarterback under center.
Las Vegas fell to San Francisco, 37-34, in overtime Sunday, Jan. 1 from Allegiant Stadium. It marked the team’s fourth overtime game this season.
This loss to the Niners serves as the third home loss for the Raiders in seven outings.
“My thing has always just been to work hard,” quarterback Jarrett Stidham said after his first NFL start. “I just tried to continue to stay grounded and who I am as a person and as a player is to just be ready whenever my number was called. Whether that was rookie year, second year, third year or now, fourth year.”
Earlier this week, head coach Josh McDaniels announced that nine-year veteran Derek Carr would be stepping away from the team while the team started Stidham. Rookie quarterback Chase Garbers served as Stidham’s backup.
“I’ve never wavered on the character and resolve of our team,” McDaniels said. “We have a great locker room that understands that there’s decisions that get made in this business – we all understand that.”
It was an interception off a throw from Stidham in overtime in addition to a 54-yard return by San Francisco safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. that led to the downfall of the Raiders. Stidham was hit as he threw and missed receiver Davante Adams by about five yards.
That went down as Stidham’s second interception of the day. The first of which came on a batted ball at the line of scrimmage before defensive lineman Drake Jackson picked it off. Both interceptions resulted in six total points.
“He had a solid performance for his first start,” McDaniels said. “He’d be the first one to tell you the turnovers you want back. There were definitely some other things involved in those turnovers.”
On the first play of the game, Stidham found tight end Foster Moreau for 20 yards. The drive also ended with a strike to a fellow tight end, this time Darren Waller from 24 yards out for the touchdown. Waller finished with 72 yards on three catches.
During that first drive, Stidham went 3-for-3 for 58 yards and a touchdown.
“During the middle of that first drive,” Stidham answered when questioned about his pregame nerves disappearing. “Once we started moving the ball consistently is when I felt comfortable and I was ready to go.”
Adams emerged as Stidham’s biggest target of the day, ending with seven catches, 153 yards and two touchdowns. In the fourth quarter, Adams surpassed Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Tim Brown for the most receiving yards in a single season by a Raiders receiver. Adams is in his first season with Las Vegas.
Both of Adams’ touchdown catches came at crucial points of the game. The first came just before halftime in the back of the end zone where he completed the fingertip catch coupled with the two foot toe drag. The latter score came early in the third quarter in the form of a 60-yard bomb after Stidham rolled out of the pocket.
“Obviously, I haven’t gotten the chance to throw to Davante all that much throughout the year,” Stidham said. “He’s an amazing player clearly and I just tried to put the ball somewhere where he could get it and touch it.”
Adams’ wasn’t done turning heads yet. He made a diving 45-yard catch to keep a drive alive before running back Josh Jacobs cashed in on a touchdown run.
Stidham also set the record for most passing yards by a Raiders quarterback making their first start with 365 yards on 23-of-34 passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions. After the game several members of the Las Vegas locker room divulged that Stidham apologized to the team in the postgame huddle for the loss.
“The ball’s in my hands every play,” Stidham said. “I’m the only one that gets to touch it every play. Unfortunately, there were two interceptions in the game and probably some things that I definitely could’ve done better to win [...] Definitely, felt like I left some football out on the field today.”
It didn’t help matters that running back Christian McCaffrey shined brightest for San Francisco, ending the day with 193 total yards from scrimmage.
In the first quarter, McCaffrey broke one for 37 yards and was stopped at the Raiders’ one-yard line. That set up a touchdown strike from quarterback Brock Purdy to receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who finished with 101 yards on nine catches.
A second quarter conversion from McCaffrey on 3rd and 5 helped put the 49ers in place for a touchdown pass to tight end George Kittle for the first visiting team lead of the game.
“I thought our guys practiced hard and then went and played their butts off,” McDaniels said. “Again, that’s a very good unit over there with very good players, a really good offensive line. [San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan] does a tremendous job of calling the game.”
Purdy went 22-for-35, throwing for 284 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He even got “Purdy” chants in the packed Allegiant Stadium.
The outright loss means automatic elimination from postseason contention for Las Vegas as the team fell to 6-10 on the year.
Next week, the Raiders will conclude the regular season with an AFC West matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs from Allegiant Stadium Saturday, Jan. 7.
“I’m not worried about our guys in that regard,” McDaniels said. “I think we have [professionals] and we have great leadership, great captains and you saw that today [...] We have a game, it’s on our schedule, we’re going to play our butts off, coach our butts off and see if we can win it.”