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Raiders end season with loss to Broncos

Updated December 29, 2019 - 8:05 pm

DENVER — The inability of Derek Carr to put his stamp on the game and the Raiders’ frustrating habit of committing far too many penalties led to Sunday’s 16-15 loss to the Broncos in their season finale.

Not even a victory would have changed the Raiders’ playoff fate. A victory by the Titans over the Texans eliminated the Raiders from the playoffs before their game in Denver had concluded.

Carr had an impressive statistical day, completing 29 of 46 passes for 391 yards. But he was able to direct just one touchdown drive.

The Raiders lost five of their last six games to finish 7-9.

Three observations from the finale:

Missed opportunities costly

In giving up 16 points on the road, the Raiders’ defense played winning football. But for all the yards Carr and the offense generated — 477 to double up the Broncos total of 238 — they mustered just one touchdown and three field goals on six trips deep into Broncos’ territory and twice came away without points.

“We left a lot out there,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “There were plays to be made and we didn’t make them.”

Carr played a role in that, too.

He missed a wide-open Hunter Renfrow near the Broncos’ goal line in the first quarter that would have been an easy touchdown with an on-target throw. In the third quarter, with the game up for grabs, Carr completed just 3 of 6 passes for 7 yards in three drives that ended in punts.

Trailing 16-9 with 2:45 remaining, Carr completed 1 of 3 passes and the Raiders went four-and-out on a drive that could have changed the entire complexion of the game. Instead, the Broncos took over on downs.

Finally, after engineering a touchdown drive to make it a one-point game with seven seconds left, Carr’s 2-point conversion pass attempt was batted down by Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris to leave the score 16-15.

Carr wasn’t to blame entirely for the missed opportunities. It should be noted the Broncos have the best red zone defense in the NFL. But when his team needed him to deliver big plays at big moments, he came up short far too often.

“We were fighting. We were moving the ball well,” Carr said. “We could have finished better in the red zone.”

That has been the case quite a bit over the last six weeks of the season when the Raiders stumbled to just one win to squander a golden chance to earn a playoff berth. With a few more more big plays by Carr, the Raiders likely don’t go into the final week of the season with only the slimmest of playoff hopes and needing help across the NFL.

Youngsters impress

Hunter Renfrow caught six passes for 102 yards. Darren Waller took a simple screen pass 75 yards while flashing speed and athletic ability. He finished with six catches for 107 yards. Maxx Crosby had five tackles and 1.5 sacks. Trayvon Mullen returned from a neck injury and had four tackles and a pass break-up.

In spite of the Raiders’ stumble over the last six weeks, there is a lot to like about the young foundation they are building. In many ways, it was that young foundation that kept things close on Sunday and allowed the Raiders to nearly pull off a last-second win.

“We got a bunch of young guys that are talented, one, but two, I think they’re made of the right stuff,” Renfrow said. “Maxx broke his hand this year. Josh (Jacobs) played through injuries. Everyone’s played through injuries and everyone’s just wanted to win. Moving forward, I think you’ve got to have that grit and determination to be a good team.”

Penalty woes continue

In the biggest game of the season, the Raiders committed 10 penalties for 107 yards. Yes, there was a questionable unnecessary roughness call on safety Eric Harris. But for the most part, the Raiders were guilty as charged.

And in a game of this magnitude, they simply can’t afford such mistakes. Taking the next step as an organization will require some major cleaning up in that department.

More Raiders: Follow at vegasnation.com and @VegasNation on Twitter.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow at @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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