Raiders escape Denver with 32-31 win

By Jerry McDonald
The Mercury News/TNS

DENVER - Derek Carr hit Darren Waller with a two-point conversion with 24 seconds to play Sunday to allow the Raiders to escape the 2020 season with an 8-8 record and a 32-31 win over the host Denver Broncos.

The play followed a 1-yard run by Josh Jacobs on fourth-and-goal, capping a 77-yard, seven-play drive.

Denver quarterback Drew Lock threw a 92-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy with 6:29 to play after the Raiders had recovered from their own mistakes to tie the game 24-24.

The Raiders scored on a 33-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson, touchdown passes of 28 and 26 yards from Derek Carr to Darren Waller and Bryan Edwards and runs of 28-yards and 1 yard by Jacobs.

Denver had field goals of 22, 37 and 26 yards by Brandon McManus, a 1-yard pass from Lock to Tony Fumagalli, a 12-yard run by Melvin Gordon and the 92-yard strike to Jeudy.

The Raiders end the season at .500, improving by one game over their 2019 record. The Broncos finish 5-11.

Carr finished 24 of 38 for 371 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, Jacobs rushed for 89 yards on 15 attempts and two scores and Waller had nine catches for 119 yards, a touchdown and the game-winning two-point conversion.

Denver’s Lock was 25 of 41 for 339 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Gaffes in the secondary have been prevalent throughout the season, and the finale was no different. This time, it was allowing Jeudy to get loose for a 92-yard touchdown pass form lock on a third-and-10 play.

The Raiders recovered from their spate of turnovers to tie the game 24-24 on a 28-yard run by Jacobs, capping a 90-yard, nine-play drive with 7:27 remaining.

Carr had a 25-yard completion to Edwards and three completions to Waller, who eclipsed Tim Brown’s single-season receiving record with his 105th catch.

Henry Ruggs III lost a fumble on a reverse on a crushing hit by Michael Ojemudia - giving the Raiders two turnovers in three snaps - to set up Gordon’s 12-yard touchdown run with 14:54 to play. Lock threw to Jerry Jeudy for the two-point conversion and a 24-17 Denver lead.

The Broncos closed the Raiders’ margin on their first possession of the second half on McManus’ 37-yard field goal to make it 17-13. The attempt was set up by a questionable 27-yard pass interference penalty against Nevin Lawson, who was covering DaeSean Hamilton along the sideline.

Following a Carr interception which glanced off the hands of Waller and in to the hands of Justin Simmons, Denver got a 20-yard pass on a back shoulder fade from Lock to Noah Fant, setting up a 27-yard field goal to make it 17-16 with 3:07 let in the third quarter.

The Raiders took a 17-10 lead at halftime with some complementary football the likes of which were seen far too infrequently through 15 games.

First, the Raiders forced a Denver punt with 1:52 to play, which was returned 21 yards by Hunter Renfrow to the Las Vegas 44-yard line.

With the defensive and special teams having set the table, the Raiders converted the sequence in to points when Carr threw a 26-yard strike to Edwards on third-and-15 with 26 seconds to go in the half.

It was the first career touchdown for Edwards, a third-round draft pick out of South Caroliina who had a strong training camp, was injured in Week 2 and has been struggling to become a target for Carr all season.

Trailing 10-3, the Raiders tied it with 11:15 left in the half when Carr hit Waller for a 23-yard touchdown play on third-and-2 in about the same place Edwards made his touchdown reception.

A 57-yard Carr to Nelson Agholor pass had the Raiders set up at the Broncos’ 7-yard line on their second possession, but a touchdown pass to Agholor was erased on Zay Jones’ offensive pass interference. The Raiders ended up settling for Carlson’s 33-yard field goal following a false start penalty.

The Broncos opened with McManus’ 22-yard field goal after Denver stalled on its opening drive and took a 10-3 lead on a 1-yard flip from Lock to Fumagalli, who was open in between linebackers Nicholas Morrow and Raekwon McMillan.

Carr finished the first half 12 of 19 for 207 yards with the two touchdowns.  The running game was non-existent, with Jacobs gaining 12 yards on six carries and rushing for 22 yards overall.