Colts, Raiders meet in key AFC game
Quarterback Philip Rivers will make some history Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas when he steps on the field to lead the Indianapolis Colts against the Raiders.
It will be his 29th start against the Raiders, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer John Elway for the most against the franchise in the regular season. Rivers already owns the mark for most wins (18), touchdown passes (47) and passing yards (7,103) against the Raiders.
But this will the first start in a Colts uniform for Rivers against the Raiders. The other 28 came as a member of the AFC West rival San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers where he began his career after being selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. After 16 seasons with the Chargers, Rivers signed a one-year free agent contract worth $25 million in March to play with Indianapolis.
“He has a disdain for the Raiders, and that’s something he’s made clear to me on the sidelines the last couple of years,” Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday. “He has more fun playing football than anyone I know.”
Rivers reflected on his long run against the Raiders. He has dealt with a nagging toe injury recently but expects to start.
“I kind of got my first taste (of playing the Raiders) with Marty Schottenheimer out there my first couple of years,” Rivers, who turned 39 on Tuesday, said. “So there’s some familiarity there obviously even with Gruden the last handful of years, playing them twice (each season).”
Rivers said he didn’t know if there was any advantage to having played the Raiders so many times over the years.
“We’re going to a new venue (Allegiant Stadium), not to the same (Oakland) Coliseum (that I’m) so used to the last couple of years,” Rivers said. “Having gone against this defense the last couple of years, being in the division … they know me, and I know them.”
The contest has major playoff implications for both teams. Indianapolis (8-4) enters Week 14 occupying the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC with Las Vegas (7-5) right behind in the No. 8 slot. It’s the start of a three-game home stretch for the Raiders that includes a Thursday night contest with the Chargers followed by a Week 16 matchup with the Miami Dolphins, who enter this week’s action occupying the sixth seed.
Las Vegas comes in off a storybook 31-28 victory over the winless New York Jets that some have dubbed the Miracle in the Meadowlands. Quarterback Derek Carr, taking advantage of an all-out blitz, hit rookie speedster Henry Ruggs III in one-on-one coverage for a 46-yard touchdown with five seconds to go to win it and also earn Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams a pink slip on Monday.
It was the 20th career fourth-quarter comeback for Carr, an NFL record for most in a player’s first seven seasons. He finished with 381 yards passing and three touchdowns and also ran for another score. Darren Waller was his top target with 13 catches for a career-high 200 yards and two touchdowns, just the fourth tight end in NFL history to have 200-plus receiving yards and two touchdowns in a game.
The Colts come in off a 26-20 victory at Houston, as Rivers was 27-of-35 passing for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
The Raiders had three players skip practice because of injury on Wednesday: corner Damon Arnette (beck/concussion), safety Jeff Heath (concussion) and running back Josh Jacobs (ankle). Safety Johnathan Abram (knee), who along with Jacobs sat out the New York win, was limited. Right tackle Trent Brown returned to practice after being activated from the COVID-19 list.
Five Colts players missed practice due to injury: Rivers (toe), left tackle Anthony Castonzo (knee), defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis (hip), safety Khari Willis (back, quad) and punter Rigoberto Sanchez (illness). Offensive tackle Braden Smith (groin) was limited while Le’Raven Clark, who started at left tackle at Texas, was placed on Injured Reserve with a season-ending Achilles injury.
–Field Level Media