Non-Playoff NFL Team Seasons in Review | Las Vegas Raiders

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The Jon Gruden era pushed on in its third season for the newly-moved Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders made the 560-mile trek southeast from Oakland to Sin City and played their first season in the brand new Allegiant Stadium. Sadly, no fans were allowed to attend a game all season. While the relocation was the primary headline, a lot more than the zip code changed for the Raiders this season.

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Las Vegas Raiders Start Season Strong

The season opened with the Las Vegas Raiders going across the country to take on the Carolina Panthers.  Josh Jacobs was the star of the show as he rushed for three touchdowns in a comeback victory for the Raiders.  The Raiders debuted Allegiant Stadium on Monday Night against the New Orleans Saints the following week. Vegas allowed the Saints to go up 10-0 before putting points on the board. A 17-17 halftime score led to the Raiders dominating in the second half to earn a 34-24 win and improve to 2-0.

Raiders Rebound from Setbacks to Stay in Contention

Las Vegas would go to Boston to take on the Patriots. The game was all New England from the second quarter on as the Raiders fell 36-20.  The Buffalo Bills defeated the Raiders the following week as well to put their record at .500.  The Raiders would then follow Wilbert Harrison on the way to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.  This game was a barn burner as both teams would go shot for shot with each other.  In the end, the Raiders would prevail 40-32 in one of the largest upsets of the young NFL season at the time.  Las Vegas went into their bye with a 3-2 record.

Raiders Continue Strong Play

The Las Vegas Raiders’ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be one to forget as they were dominated by Tom Brady who had 369 passing yards and four touchdowns.  Fortunately, the tide quickly turned around after this game though. Their next three games against the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos would all end in wins. This despite Derek Carr throwing for fewer than 170 yards in all three outings.

Las Vegas Raiders Early Success Starts to Wane

People started to believe that this Raiders team could be on track to make the playoffs . That all changed in Week 11 when the Chiefs wanted some revenge.  Patrick Mahomes and Derek Carr went shot for shot once again. This time, Mahomes and the Chiefs would get the last laugh.

It was followed by another game that the Raiders would rather forget as they got absolutely dominated by the Atlanta Falcons.  Atlanta scored in every quarter in a 43-6 blowout win.  The Raiders would hope to change their luck against the winless New York Jets the following week. They may have won the game, but it wasn’t without a major scare. The Raiders should have probably lost, but Gregg Williams sent a cover-0 blitz with seconds remaining, and Carr found first round draft pick Henry Ruggs in the endzone for the win.

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Raiders Push for the Playoffs Down the Stretch

The win over the Jets put the Las Vegas Raiders at 7-5 and in the thick of the AFC playoff chase. Would the Raiders be able to keep the momentum?  In short, the answer is no, no they couldn’t. A brutal homestand changed the Raiders’ postseason outlooks in a big way.

First, the Indianapolis Colts came into Vegas and earned a double-digit win. The following week on Thursday Night Football, the Los Angeles Chargers got an overtime win in a game that they really should’ve won in regulation.  With a 7-7 record the Raiders needed a win over the Miami Dolphins to realistically stay in the playoff hunt.

In what might’ve been the game of the year, the Dolphins and Raiders traded scores with under five minutes to go.  Miami held a one-point lead at the 2:55 mark of the fourth quarter. The Raiders did their best to run the clock and get into field goal range where they took a 25-23 lead with just 19 seconds remaining.  Would the defense hold up?  No, Ryan “Fitzmagic” Fitzpatrick took the Dolphins down the field for a game-winning field goal.  The result eliminated Las Vegas Raiders from playoff contention.  A season-ending win over the Broncos in Week 17 saw the Raiders finish at 8-8.

Raiders Outlook Moving Forward

This season was definitely a change for the better for the Las Vegas Raiders in more ways than one. He may be old-school in his mentality and approach, but Jon Gruden has changed this team. He could have them in the playoffs as soon as next season with the addition of the right pieces.

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