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Play Calling, Execution Doom Raiders in Loss to Washington

The Las Vegas Raiders missed a golden opportunity to make significant progress and fall to the Washington Football Team 17-15.

Las Vegas, Nev.--The Las Vegas Raiders are reliving a nightmare.

Brian Johnson kicked a 48-yard field goal with 37 seconds left to give the Washington Football Team a 17-15 victory over the Raiders on Sunday before 65,000 fans at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The Raiders (6-6), who got off to a fast start for the third straight season at 3-0 and then were 5-2, have lost four of their last five games and sixth in the previous nine. The Silver and Black finished at 7-9 and 8-8 the previous two seasons and missed the post-season both times after promising starts.

“We gotta come up with some plays somehow and find a way to make a play with people on us and find a way to make a throw even when we’re under duress,” said Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who is 3-4 since taking over after Jon Gruden resigned over his email scandal. “The highs have been pretty good and the lows have been very low.”

Even if the Raiders win their last five games, there is no guarantee they will make it to the post-season, but they still have an outside shot thanks to the NFL adding a 17th game to the schedule this season.

The last time the Raiders made the playoffs was in 2016 when they went 12-4 under Coach Jack Del Rio. The Washington victory had to be satisfying because he is the defensive coordinator for Washington and his defense held the Raiders in check for much of the game.

Washington (6-6) has won four straight games and controls its destiny in the NFC playoff chase.

The Raiders took their only lead when Daniel Carlson kicked his third field goal of the day from 37 yards to give Las Vegas a 15-14 lead with 2:22 remaining.

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who completed 23-of-30 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, hit on three passes for 37 yards and drove Washington 44 yards into position for Johnson’s game-winning field goal, his first with the team after signing recently.

“I didn’t even know his name,” Washington defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said. “We just brought him up.”

Said Johnson, who was brought in after an injury to kicker Joey Slye: “The vibe and everything, for not being around it, I felt it once I walked in. It’s an awesome locker room to be in. They’re probably still learning my name, but it’s awesome to be here.”

The only incomplete pass Heinicke threw during the drive came three plays before the game-winning kick when Raiders safety Trevon Moehrig seemed to have a sure game-saving interception in his hands but couldn’t hold onto the ball with 53 seconds left.

Heinicke drove Washington 75 yards in nine plays following the opening kickoff, hitting tight end Logan Thomas with a seven-yard touchdown pass for the 7-0 lead with 9:39 left in the first quarter. The lead was 7-3 at halftime because the Raiders got off to another one of the slow starts that have hampered them this season.

Washington outgained the Raiders, 151-110, in total offense during the first two quarters had a 17:45 to 12:15 edge in time of possession as Antonio Gibson rushed for 65 yards on 12 carries to help control the ball and the clock.

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Carlson, who helped the Raiders beat the Dallas Cowboys with five field goals on Thanksgiving Day, kicked a 38-yard field goal with 4:57 left in the third quarter, but Heinicke threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Gibson with 13:28 left in the game to increase Washington’s lead to 14-6.

Quarterback Derek Carr finally got the Raiders into the end zone for the only time in the game when he drove them 75 yards in four plays with the help of three Washington penalties early in the fourth quarter.

Carr hit wide receivers Hunter Renfrow and DeSean Jackson with passes of 28 and 14 yards, respectively, before running back Josh Jacobs ran four yards for a touchdown with 10:57 left.

However, Carr missed wide receiver Bryan Edwards, on a two-point conversion try, and it was 14-12.

Those two missed points proved to be huge in the end.

“It’s very frustrating,” Carr told reporters. “Field goals aren’t going to win you games. You have to get touchdowns, especially with the teams we have coming up. We will need touchdowns to win these games.”

Carr completed 28-of-38 passes for 249 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Raiders are 0-6 this season when he does not pass for 300 yards and 6-0 when he does. It didn’t help that his favorite receiver, tight end Darren Waller, was out because of a knee injury.

Renfrow led the Raiders with nine receptions for 102 yards, while Jacobs had 52 yards rushing and caught nine passes for 38 yards.

“The wins and the losses are the only things that matter,” Renfrow said after the game. “We can have as much individual success, it really does not matter. To me it doesn’t matter if I have four fumbles or however many catches. If we don’t get the win, that’s all that matters.”

Linebacker Denzel Perryman again led the Raiders with 12 tackles, including one for a loss, Divine Deablo made 10, and cornerback Nate Hobbs had nine.

Defensive end Maxx Crosby made four tackles, including one for a loss, and hit Heinicke’s arm on a pass intercepted by Hobbs to set up Carlson’s go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Raiders from here, as they hit the road to play the arch-rival Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

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