3 Takeaways from Raiders' Week 17 Win

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2022

3 Takeaways from Raiders' Week 17 Win

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders have done it again. On Sunday, for the third time in as many weeks, Las Vegas came from the brink of defeat to win and keep its playoff hopes alive.

    In Week 15, it was a fight against the COVID-19-affected Cleveland Browns. Last time out, it was a win over a Denver Broncos team missing starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Sunday's win was different.

    While the Indianapolis Colts didn't activate quarterback Carson Wentz from the reserve/COVID-19 list until Sunday, their starter was on the field. Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor gashed the Raiders for 108 rushing yards and a touchdown.

    A Colts team that had beaten the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals in its previous two games took a late fourth-quarter lead. Yet the Raiders battled back, proving that they deserve to be in the AFC playoff field.

    Here's what else we learned during Las Vegas' 23-20 win in Week 17.

The Raiders Can Count on Derek Carr Late

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    It will take a win over the rival Los Angeles Chargers in Week 18 for Las Vegas to punch its ticket to the playoffs. Doing that doesn't feel as unreasonable as it did as recently as December. As long as the Raiders can keep it close, they should feel good about putting the ball in Derek Carr's hands late in the fourth quarter.

    Carr was far from perfect against the Colts. He tossed a pair of picks—but when it mattered most, he delivered. Las Vegas took over with a little under two minutes remaining, and Carr drove the Raiders down the field for a 33-yard Daniel Carlson field goal and the win.

    On the final drive, Carr completed four passes, including a beautiful 24-yard strike to Hunter Renfrow on 3rd-and-10 from just over midfield.

    It marked the second time in three weeks that Carr has orchestrated a game-winning drive at the end of regulation. According to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, it was the 29th game-winning drive of Carr's career.

    Carr will need to do a better job of limiting his mistakes in Week 18—and in the postseason if the Raiders make it that far. However, the Raiders should have faith in his ability to deliver at the end of the game.

Hunter Renfrow Is a Star

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Carr wasn't the only player to shine on that game-winning drive. Renfrow made a terrific catch with Carr on the move and nearly took the ball into the end zone for a game-winning touchdown instead of setting up the field goal.

    "Stayed with me again. Kept running, made a heck of a catch," Carr said of Renfrow, per Levi Damien of Raiders wire.

    It was not Renfrow's only big play of the game or the season.

    Renfrow finished Sunday's game with seven catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. He also returned three punts for 64 yards. For the season, he has 1,025 yards with seven touchdowns.

    While Renfrow isn't regularly mentioned among the game's best young receivers, he's blossomed into a go-to target in Las Vegas. He's often the player Carr looks to when plays break down, as it did on that 3rd-and-10.

    Tight end Darren Waller will likely be Las Vegas' top receiving option if and when he returns—he's been out with back and knee injuries and is now on the reserve/COVID-19 list—but Renfrow has become a playmaker in his own right.

Rich Bisaccia Deserves Consideration for the Full-Time Head-Coaching Job

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    If we've learned one thing over the past few weeks, it's that interim coach Rich Bisaccia has figured out how to lead the Raiders. When Bisaccia took over in early October, the Raiders were 3-2. They move to 5-2 before falling to 5-5 and later 6-7.

    But instead of collapsing, Las Vegas has rebounded. It has won three straight to set up a win-and-in scenario for Week 18 and has guaranteed the Raiders' first winning season since 2016.

    Bisaccia has helped navigate Jon Gruden's resignation, the arrest of Henry Ruggs III for driving under the influence resulting in death and the releases of Ruggs and cornerback Damon Arnette. It's been a trying season both on and off the field, yet Las Vegas is still on the brink of a playoff berth.

    While Bisaccia—who began coaching back in 1983—may not have the interim label pulled from his title, he at least deserves consideration for the full-time job heading into the offseason.

    "If the Raiders make the playoffs, there is an argument to be made for retaining Bisaccia as the head coach," Bonsignore wrote. "However, Mark Davis, who owns the Las Vegas Aces as well as the Raiders, is not afraid to take a big swing when it comes to the leader of his franchises."

    We'll soon find out whether Bisaccia can finish the job and guide Las Vegas to only its second playoff appearance since 2002.