Nov 22, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) warms up prior to kickoff against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders look to rebound with visit to Falcons

After seeing their AFC West title hopes all but squashed with an emotional last-minute home loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, the Las Vegas Raiders will try to avoid a letdown when they travel to face the NFC South cellar-dwelling Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

Las Vegas head coach Jon Gruden pulled out some of his best cliches after Wednesday’s practice to make sure the Raiders (6-4), who trail the first-place Chiefs (9-1) by three games with six to go, don’t overlook the Falcons (3-7), who enter off an ugly 24-9 loss at New Orleans.

“This is the best 3-7 team I’ve ever seen,” Gruden said. “I don’t know how they’ve lost some of those games, and I’m sure they don’t either.”

It was easy to pin the reason for Sunday night’s loss to the Chiefs for Las Vegas: Patrick Mahomes.

After the Raiders took a 31-28 lead on a one-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to tight end Jason Witten with 1:43 to go, Mahomes calmly drove the Chiefs 75 yards in seven plays, connecting with a wide-open Travis Kelce for a game-winning 22-yard touchdown pass with 28 seconds left to pull out the 35-31 victory.

Had Las Vegas been able to hold on, it would have closed to within one-game of the Chiefs and owned the head-to-head tiebreaker. Instead, the Raiders find themselves in a dogfight for a wild card playoff spot.

“We are what we are,” Gruden said. “We’re 6-4 with six games left, and we’ve got to be ready for Atlanta.”

The play of the offensive line was the biggest issue for Atlanta in its loss to the Saints. Quarterback Matt Ryan, who ranks third in the NFL with 2,978 passing yards and needs just 22 yards Sunday to become the eighth quarterback in NFL history with 11 consecutive seasons with 3,000 or more passing yards, was under constant duress, getting sacked eight times and taking 11 quarterback hits.

Ryan finished 19-of-37 for 232 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions and a passer rating of 48.5, his lowest since a 47.2 pass rating in a 27-13 loss to Arizona on Oct. 27, 2013.

The run game also struggled, garnering just 52 yards on 14 attempts with the longest rush covering just seven yards.

“A lot of those were combinations of coverage and rush,” interim head coach Raheem Morris said. “We don’t want to just blow blame on the (offensive) line all the way.”

The potentially good news for Atlanta is that the Raiders have sacked the quarterback just 11 times this season. Only Jacksonville (nine) has fewer sacks in the NFL.

Of more concern for the Falcons is the health of seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones, who played just 35 percent of the snaps against New Orleans because of hamstring tightness. Jones, who has missed two games this season, has 45 receptions for 677 yards and three touchdowns.

“Obviously, we’ll take Julio into a game-time decision and give him the best opportunity in order to go out there and be able to compete as long as he’s healthy,” Morris said.

Jones and defensive end Dante Fowler, who came off the COVID-19 list on Wednesday, both were limited in practice on Wednesday with hamstring injuries while running back Todd Gurley II, tied for third in the league with nine rushing TDs to go along with 610 yards on 167 carries, sat out with a knee injury. Tight end Hayden Hurst (ankle) and running back Qadree Ollison (illness) also didn’t practice.

Cornerbacks Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson both missed practice for Las Vegas on Wednesday with illnesses. Gruden said starting defensive end Clelin Ferrell (COVID-19), who missed the Kansas City loss, could be back in the facility on Thursday but added, “I don’t know how he’s going to play, honestly.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 8, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts in the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 31-26.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Carr, surprising Raiders host Broncos

The Las Vegas Raiders begin the second half of their season Sunday afternoon against the visiting Denver Broncos with back-to-back victories and in the thick of the playoff picture.

Not bad considering the original offensive line has played a total of just 10 snaps together.

Consider that both starting tackles, Trent Brown (COVID-19) and Kolton Miller (ankle), as well as road-grading left guard Richie Incognito (Achilles), missed last Sunday’s 31-26 victory against the Chargers in Los Angeles.

Incognito remains on injured reserve, and reports this week suggested Brown might miss a month with COVID-19 complications, yet, the Raiders continue to have quality offensive line play with nine different players having started so far.

The Raiders (5-3) have still managed to win three of their last four games, including a 40-32 win at defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City, behind the standout play of quarterback Derek Carr.

Carr has completed 180 of 258 passes for 2,002 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His 110.0 passer rating ranks fifth in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers (117.5), Russell Wilson (117.1), Patrick Mahomes (115.9) and Drew Brees (110.3).

But in an AFC West that features the reigning Super Bowl MVP in Mahomes and the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors in Justin Herbert of the Chargers, Carr has been somewhat overlooked.

Not by the Broncos, however. Denver (3-5), coming in off a 34-27 loss at Atlanta, has allowed an average of 35.7 points over its last three games and knows it needs to find a way to slow down the seven-year veteran from Fresno State.

“I’ve seen (Carr) since he came into the league,” safety Kareem Jackson said. “Obviously he’s playing at an elite level right now in his career, but even when he was a younger he was doing some great things.”

Carr had a season-high 391 yards and a touchdown in the last meeting between the teams in Week 17 last season, but Denver held on for a 16-15 victory when defensive end Shelby Harris batted down Carr’s two-point conversion pass for Hunter Renfrow with seven seconds left. It was the Raiders’ final game before departing Oakland for Sin City.

“He can make every throw, and he has some elite talent around him,” Jackson said. “He’s getting those guys in the right sets and the right plays, and they’re rolling. And he’ll run a little bit as well. He’s an elite talent and a great leader for that team, and it shows on Sunday.”

Carr won’t have to worry about Harris batting down any of his passes this time around. Harris, who sat out the loss to Falcons while in self-quarantine following close contact with someone who had contracted COVID-19, tested positive for the disease on Wednesday morning and will not play Sunday. He is third on the team with 2.5 sacks to go along with 15 tackles.

“It’s a big blow anytime you lose one of your better players,” said Denver coach Vic Fangio. “I think he’s probably having the best season of his career.”

Three other Broncos didn’t practice on Wednesday: safety Justin Simmons (not injury related), tackle Demar Dotson (groin/hand), and standout rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (shoulder). Corners A.J Bouye (concussion) and Bryce Callahan (ankle) were limited but are expected to start Sunday.

For the Raiders, Miller missed practice Wednesday and was joined on the sidelines by center Rodney Hudson (non-football), defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (ankle) and corner Trayvon Mullen (hamstring).

Fullback Alec Ingold, who watched the second half of Sunday’s win over the Chargers in the hospital getting his ribs X-rayed, did practice but was limited while rookie cornerback Damon Arnette, placed on injured reserve on Oct. 2 with a thumb injury, also practiced.

“He’s been out a long time,” Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden said of Arnette, a first-round pick out of Ohio State. “No guarantee he’ll play, or start, or be a factor in the game yet. He’s got to determine that himself and show us (in practice) tomorrow and Friday.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 8, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts in the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 31-26.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Carr, surprising Raiders host Broncos

The Las Vegas Raiders begin the second half of their season Sunday afternoon against the visiting Denver Broncos with back-to-back victories and in the thick of the playoff picture.

Not bad considering the original offensive line has played a total of just 10 snaps together.

Consider that both starting tackles, Trent Brown (COVID-19) and Kolton Miller (ankle), as well as road-grading left guard Richie Incognito (Achilles), missed last Sunday’s 31-26 victory against the Chargers in Los Angeles.

Incognito remains on injured reserve, and reports this week suggested Brown might miss a month with COVID-19 complications, yet, the Raiders continue to have quality offensive line play with nine different players having started so far.

The Raiders (5-3) have still managed to win three of their last four games, including a 40-32 win at defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City, behind the standout play of quarterback Derek Carr.

Carr has completed 180 of 258 passes for 2,002 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His 110.0 passer rating ranks fifth in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers (117.5), Russell Wilson (117.1), Patrick Mahomes (115.9) and Drew Brees (110.3).

But in an AFC West that features the reigning Super Bowl MVP in Mahomes and the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors in Justin Herbert of the Chargers, Carr has been somewhat overlooked.

Not by the Broncos, however. Denver (3-5), coming in off a 34-27 loss at Atlanta, has allowed an average of 35.7 points over its last three games and knows it needs to find a way to slow down the seven-year veteran from Fresno State.

“I’ve seen (Carr) since he came into the league,” safety Kareem Jackson said. “Obviously he’s playing at an elite level right now in his career, but even when he was a younger he was doing some great things.”

Carr had a season-high 391 yards and a touchdown in the last meeting between the teams in Week 17 last season, but Denver held on for a 16-15 victory when defensive end Shelby Harris batted down Carr’s two-point conversion pass for Hunter Renfrow with seven seconds left. It was the Raiders’ final game before departing Oakland for Sin City.

“He can make every throw, and he has some elite talent around him,” Jackson said. “He’s getting those guys in the right sets and the right plays, and they’re rolling. And he’ll run a little bit as well. He’s an elite talent and a great leader for that team, and it shows on Sunday.”

Carr won’t have to worry about Harris batting down any of his passes this time around. Harris, who sat out the loss to Falcons while in self-quarantine following close contact with someone who had contracted COVID-19, tested positive for the disease on Wednesday morning and will not play Sunday. He is third on the team with 2.5 sacks to go along with 15 tackles.

“It’s a big blow anytime you lose one of your better players,” said Denver coach Vic Fangio. “I think he’s probably having the best season of his career.”

Three other Broncos didn’t practice on Wednesday: safety Justin Simmons (not injury related), tackle Demar Dotson (groin/hand), and standout rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (shoulder). Corners A.J Bouye (concussion) and Bryce Callahan (ankle) were limited but are expected to start Sunday.

For the Raiders, Miller missed practice Wednesday and was joined on the sidelines by center Rodney Hudson (non-football), defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (ankle) and corner Trayvon Mullen (hamstring).

Fullback Alec Ingold, who watched the second half of Sunday’s win over the Chargers in the hospital getting his ribs X-rayed, did practice but was limited while rookie cornerback Damon Arnette, placed on injured reserve on Oct. 2 with a thumb injury, also practiced.

“He’s been out a long time,” Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden said of Arnette, a first-round pick out of Ohio State. “No guarantee he’ll play, or start, or be a factor in the game yet. He’s got to determine that himself and show us (in practice) tomorrow and Friday.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 8, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts in the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 31-26.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Carr, surprising Raiders host Broncos

The Las Vegas Raiders begin the second half of their season Sunday afternoon against the visiting Denver Broncos with back-to-back victories and in the thick of the playoff picture.

Not bad considering the original offensive line has played a total of just 10 snaps together.

Consider that both starting tackles, Trent Brown (COVID-19) and Kolton Miller (ankle), as well as road-grading left guard Richie Incognito (Achilles), missed last Sunday’s 31-26 victory against the Chargers in Los Angeles.

Incognito remains on injured reserve, and reports this week suggested Brown might miss a month with COVID-19 complications, yet, the Raiders continue to have quality offensive line play with nine different players having started so far.

The Raiders (5-3) have still managed to win three of their last four games, including a 40-32 win at defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City, behind the standout play of quarterback Derek Carr.

Carr has completed 180 of 258 passes for 2,002 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His 110.0 passer rating ranks fifth in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers (117.5), Russell Wilson (117.1), Patrick Mahomes (115.9) and Drew Brees (110.3).

But in an AFC West that features the reigning Super Bowl MVP in Mahomes and the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors in Justin Herbert of the Chargers, Carr has been somewhat overlooked.

Not by the Broncos, however. Denver (3-5), coming in off a 34-27 loss at Atlanta, has allowed an average of 35.7 points over its last three games and knows it needs to find a way to slow down the seven-year veteran from Fresno State.

“I’ve seen (Carr) since he came into the league,” safety Kareem Jackson said. “Obviously he’s playing at an elite level right now in his career, but even when he was a younger he was doing some great things.”

Carr had a season-high 391 yards and a touchdown in the last meeting between the teams in Week 17 last season, but Denver held on for a 16-15 victory when defensive end Shelby Harris batted down Carr’s two-point conversion pass for Hunter Renfrow with seven seconds left. It was the Raiders’ final game before departing Oakland for Sin City.

“He can make every throw, and he has some elite talent around him,” Jackson said. “He’s getting those guys in the right sets and the right plays, and they’re rolling. And he’ll run a little bit as well. He’s an elite talent and a great leader for that team, and it shows on Sunday.”

Carr won’t have to worry about Harris batting down any of his passes this time around. Harris, who sat out the loss to Falcons while in self-quarantine following close contact with someone who had contracted COVID-19, tested positive for the disease on Wednesday morning and will not play Sunday. He is third on the team with 2.5 sacks to go along with 15 tackles.

“It’s a big blow anytime you lose one of your better players,” said Denver coach Vic Fangio. “I think he’s probably having the best season of his career.”

Three other Broncos didn’t practice on Wednesday: safety Justin Simmons (not injury related), tackle Demar Dotson (groin/hand), and standout rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (shoulder). Corners A.J Bouye (concussion) and Bryce Callahan (ankle) were limited but are expected to start Sunday.

For the Raiders, Miller missed practice Wednesday and was joined on the sidelines by center Rodney Hudson (non-football), defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (ankle) and corner Trayvon Mullen (hamstring).

Fullback Alec Ingold, who watched the second half of Sunday’s win over the Chargers in the hospital getting his ribs X-rayed, did practice but was limited while rookie cornerback Damon Arnette, placed on injured reserve on Oct. 2 with a thumb injury, also practiced.

“He’s been out a long time,” Las Vegas coach Jon Gruden said of Arnette, a first-round pick out of Ohio State. “No guarantee he’ll play, or start, or be a factor in the game yet. He’s got to determine that himself and show us (in practice) tomorrow and Friday.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (65) tackles Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (28) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Jacobs, Carr lead Raiders over Browns

Derek Carr tossed the go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Josh Jacobs rushed for 128 yards to lead the visiting Las Vegas Raiders to a 16-6 defeat of the Cleveland Browns on a chilly and windy Sunday.

Daniel Carlson connected on field goals of 29, 33 and 24 yards in a contest that featured sleet and snow flurries and was played with steady winds of 35 mph with gusts reaching 50 mph.

Carr completed 15 of 24 passes for 112 yards and also rushed for 41 yards on six carries for Las Vegas (4-3). Jacobs had 31 carries in his first 100-yard game of the season.

Cody Parkey booted field goals of 41 and 38 yards for Cleveland (5-3). Baker Mayfield completed 12 of 25 passes for 122 yards while Kareem Hunt led the ground game with 66 yards on 14 carries. Jarvis Landry finished with four catches for 52 yards.

Following a scoreless first quarter that saw Carlson’s wind-blown 41-yard field-goal attempt clang off the left upright, Parkey put Cleveland ahead 3-0 with 13:35 left in the second quarter.

The Raiders answered with a pair of Carlson field goals, including a 33-yarder on the final play of the half to take a 6-3 lead.

The Browns tied it midway through the third quarter when Parkey connected from 38 yards. The score came one play after an apparent 20-yard touchdown from Mayfield to Landry was reversed following a replay when it was determined Landry didn’t maintain control of the ball when hitting the ground.

The Raiders then answered with a 15-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 8:54, capped by Carr’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow to take a 13-6 lead. The score was also reviewed because the ball hit the ground as Renfrow slid into the end zone but the catch was upheld because it was ruled he maintained control of the ball.

Carlson made it 16-6 with a 24-yard field goal with 4:27 remaining to end a 13-play, 74-yard drive after the Browns twice stopped Jacobs for no gain from the 1-yard line.

–Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) pushes into the end zone to score a rushing touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders in the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brady, Bucs breeze past Raiders

Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score and moved past Drew Brees into the NFL’s top spot for career touchdown passes as the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers cruised to a 45-20 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

Brady, who has thrown 559 TD passes in his career, moved past Brees (558) with a 1-yard pass to rookie Tyler Johnson with 3:08 remaining to seal the victory. Brady completed 33 of 45 passes for 369 yards and no interceptions.

Chris Godwin caught nine passes for 88 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown pass with 7:22 remaining that made it 31-20, and Scotty Miller caught six passes for a career-high 109 yards and a touchdown for the Buccaneers.

Rob Gronkowski caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown, and Leonard Fournette, back after missing three games with an ankle injury, rushed for a game-high 50 yards on 11 carries and also caught six passes for 47 yards.

Derek Carr, making his 100th career start, completed 24-of-36 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns and an interception while Daniel Carlson connected on field goals of 42 and 36 yards for Las Vegas (3-3). Nelson Agholor caught five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown for the Raiders, who managed just 76 yards rushing.

Tampa Bay (5-2) built a 24-10 lead in the third quarter after a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Brady in the first, his 24th career rushing TD, and in the second period on touchdown passes of 5 yards to Gronkowski and 33 yards to Miller. A 29-yard field goal by Ryan Succop boosted the lead to 14.

But Las Vegas closed to 24-20 after a 1-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Darren Waller in the third period and a 36-yard field goal by Carlson with 12:43 to play.

The Buccaneers then broke the game open with two touchdowns in the span of 42 seconds. The first came on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Godwin to cap an 11-play, 67-yard drive. The second came on a 1-yard run by Ronald Jones II two plays after rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. intercepted Carr at the Las Vegas 24.

–Field Level Media

Sep 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians talks with his team against the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers confident game vs. Raiders will be played

As far as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are concerned, they will be taking the field in Las Vegas on Sunday no matter the start time.

Sunday’s game between the Buccaneers and the host Las Vegas Raiders was put in doubt this week after a COVID-19 outbreak among the home team. The Raiders’ entire offensive line was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after offensive lineman Trent Brown was designated Wednesday as a potential risk.

The Raiders are coming off their bye week and the rest of the starting offensive line has not had any contact with Brown since Monday. It leaves the outside chance that at least some of the starters will be available if they clear testing Sunday morning following a full five-day quarantine.

As a precaution, the NFL moved the game out of prime time on Sunday, putting the Seattle Seahawks-Arizona Cardinals game under the lights. The Buccaneers (4-2) and the Raiders (3-2) now have a 4:05 p.m. EST start.

“As far as we know, everything is good to go at 4 o’clock Sunday,” Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said in advance of the team’s cross-country flight. “I think the guys love playing on Sunday night, so it’s a disappointment that way. But hey, we’ve got to play the game.”

If the game can’t be played Sunday, the NFL would try to reschedule it later in the season, or even move it back a few days.

“I don’t see it being moved (to another date) right now,” Arians said. “We’ll know more (Saturday) morning. Right now, we’re preparing like we’re playing on Sunday.”

With a game against a team that has struggled to follow NFL COVID-19 protocols and now has players on the COVID-19 list, Arians said he will stress to his team to follow COVID-19 guidelines as strictly as possible.

“I’m as confident as we can be,” he said about his players’ safety. “I haven’t decided yet – (and) it has nothing to do with sportsmanship – whether we will shake hands or embrace anything after the game. Just to be cautious.

“Playing the game is one thing, but the mingling and all that stuff after the ballgame – I’m going to have to talk to our guys. But, I don’t think we will do that, just to be safe.”

–Field Level Media