OAKLAND -- The Raiders might well have played their last game in Oakland. It’s not certain, though a lawsuit levied against the Silver and Black and the NFL has owner Mark Davis turning over rocks trying to find a temporary home for his team.
The Raiders are destined for Las Vegas in 2020, and they're technically homeless next season, with their Oakland Coliseum lease virtually expired.
Though a return to this old stadium remains a possibility, it seems likely the Raiders play elsewhere in 2019.
Raiders players, coaches and fans treated Monday night’s game against the Denver Broncos like the end of an era. There was a sense of urgency in everything done, with a point to enjoy every last moment of this night.
The Raiders did their part. They put on a show in a 27-14 victory over the Broncos, giving this fan base reason to cheer.
The Silver and Black dominated all phases while building a three-score lead over their AFC West rivals, and secured victory down the stretch.
Here are three quick takeaways from Monday night’s victory:
Raiders win one for Oakland
Players and coaches prefer to ignore all noise or distraction outside game prep leading up to a regular-season game. Not so this week.
The Raiders openly discussed the likelihood of this possibly being the last game at Oakland Coliseum, and their desire to send this era out with a win.
That was clear early, with the defense playing aggressive and the offense grinding out points to build a quasi-comfortable lead.
The crowd was into it from the start, choosing to cheer positive moments. Reacting in anger was rare, despite a beefed-up security presence around the field.
This was a fun evening, as one would expect, devoid of the anger and aggression that can be associated with awkward moments during the franchise relocation process.
That’s expected, given the nature of this Oakland fan base, and all it has been through losing a team for a second time. They kept it positive, with a sellout crowd to support what could be the final game in this building.
Defense comes out hitting
Safety Karl Joseph prides himself on setting a proper defensive tone. He certainly did that against Denver, flying through the backfield for one violent strike after another.
That aggression proved contagious, as the Raiders' defense played its best game of the season against a down-on-its-luck Broncos offense. The Raiders slowed the run, and generally shut down the Broncos' passing game.
They were able to generate more pressure with an early lead that held strong throughout the game. The Coliseum turf was a mess after steady rain Monday, but the Oakland defense was the main reason Denver couldn’t establish momentum.
The defense did this without starting cornerbacks Daryl Worley and Gareon Conley and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, all of whom missed the game with injuries.
The Raiders had a shutout going until late in the third quarter, but two Broncos touchdowns cut the lead to 10. They were driving again midway through the fourth quarter when safety Marcus Gilchrist’s interception in Broncos territory allowed kicker Daniel Carlson to make it a 13-point lead that proved insurmountable.
Special moment from special teams
The Raiders forced a punt on their first drive, and Broncos punter Colby Wadman sent a volley toward the goal line. The Broncos successfully kept it out of the end zone, only for veteran Raiders return man Dwayne Harris to pick it up and take off running. The totally legal move caught Denver off guard, allowing enough time for Harris’ breakneck speed to create a window of opportunity.
Harris darted through traffic and then hugged the sideline all the way to paydirt, completing a 99-yard punt-return touchdown that stands as one of three in NFL history from that distance or beyond.
It set the tone early and put fans in a good mood for the rest of the night.