INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Derek Carr and Las Vegas lost a late touchdown on a replay reversal. They surrendered a TD on a fluke play. They committed the only two turnovers of the game.
And they won. Welcome to another high point of a roller-coaster season for the Raiders.
Carr directed Las Vegas to Daniel Carlson’s 33-yard field goal as time expired, and the Raiders beat Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts 23-20 on Sunday to move one step closer to an AFC wild card.
Rallying after an embarrassing email scandal that led to coach Jon Gruden’s resignation, the Raiders (9-7) earned their third straight win. They can wrap up an improbable playoff spot with a victory over the Los Angeles Chargers next weekend.
“We’re finding a way to do it because we have the right kind of guys,” Carr said, “and there’s never been a doubt, there’s never a finger pointed, you know, at this or that, and this coach is not there, and all this kind … nobody cares.
“We have a bunch of guys that believe that and just keep going.”
After Michael Badgley kicked a tying 41-yard field goal for Indianapolis with 1:56 left, Carr and the Raiders got the ball back at their 25 after a touchback. Carr found Hunter Renfrow for 24 yards on third-and-10 in the final minute, setting the stage for Carlson’s fourth game-winning field goal of the season.
Renfrow’s clutch catch was originally ruled a touchdown after he got up and ran into the end zone, but the call was changed when a replay review showed he was touched down.
“I’m glad I was,” Renfrow said, “because then we were able to run the clock down and give Daniel another game-winning field goal.”
Carr threw two interceptions, giving him a career-high 14 on the season, but he also had 255 yards and a touchdown through the air. Zay Jones had eight receptions for 120 yards, and Renfrow finished with seven grabs for 76 yards.
It was Carr’s 29th career game-winning drive.
“I’m just wired, my mind, my heart, just that way, to love those moments,” Carr said.
Indianapolis (9-7) had won three straight and eight of 10 to move one win away from a postseason berth. But it couldn’t hold a second-half lead against Las Vegas.
“Disappointing loss, really disappointed we didn’t do what we had to do in front of our home fans and clinch a spot in the playoffs,” coach Frank Reich said.
Taylor finished with 20 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown. The NFL’s leading rusher broke Edgerrin James’ single-season franchise record of 1,709 yards rushing on a 9-yard carry midway through the third quarter. He has 1,734 yards to go with one game left in the league’s first 17-game season.
Carson Wentz was 16 of 27 for 148 yards and a touchdown, shaking off a slow start after he spent much of the week on the COVID-19 reserve list.
“Definitely one of the weirdest weeks of my NFL career if not the weirdest,” Wentz said. “But we’re good, locked in the virtual meetings. Just different, wouldn’t say that’s the reason for the performance or the reason we lost today by any means. Just a strange, strange week.”
Wentz got his touchdown pass on a fortunate bounce for Indianapolis on its first possession of the second half.
On first-and-10 at the Las Vegas 45, a scrambling Wentz threw the ball into a crowd at the goal line. Wide receiver Ashton Dulin and defensive backs Casey Hayward and Tre’von Moehrig all went up to make a play, and the ball popped up before landing in the arms of T.Y. Hilton for a 17-13 lead.
Hilton took a bow in the end zone after perhaps the easiest of his 53 career receiving touchdowns.
The Raiders went back in front on Carr’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Renfrow on fourth-and-2 with 11:18 left in the fourth. Carr scrambled to his right before throwing to an open Renfrow in the end zone.
“I can’t say enough about the chemistry between him and Derek,” interim Raiders coach Rich Bisaccia said, “and his ability to understand the field and get himself in open positions.”
Las Vegas had a 10-3 lead late in the first half when a couple of mistakes helped keep the Colts in the game. Rookie guard Alex Leatherwood was flagged for a false start and Carlson sent a kickoff out of bounds, leading to Taylor’s 1-yard TD run with 1 second left.
Colts: DB Xavier Rhodes departed with a hamstring injury.
The Raiders played with a small “JM” sticker on the back of their helmets to honor Hall of Famer John Madden, who died this week at age 85. Madden coached the Raiders to a win in Super Bowl 11 before becoming the league’s most influential broadcaster.
A pregame tribute video drew a big cheer from the crowd, and there was a moment of silence in Madden’s memory.
Raiders: Host the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday.
Colts: Close out the regular season at Jacksonville next Sunday.
This story will be updated throughout the game
KICKOFF: Raiders receive the opening kickoff.
FIRST QUARTER: Raiders Josh Jacobs rushed to the right for 2 yard touchdown. RAIDERS 7, COLTS 0 early in quarter.
SECOND QUARTER: Raiders Daniel Carlson kicked a 47-yard field goal. RAIDERS 10, COLTS 0 early in quarter.
Colts Michael Badgley kicked a 46-yard field goal. RAIDERS 10, COLTS 3. midway through quarter.
Raiders Daniel Carlson kicked a 44 yard field goal. RAIDERS 13, COLTS 3, late in quarter.
Colts Jonathan Taylor rushed up the middle for 1 yard touchdown. RAIDERS 13, COLTS 10 at halftime.
THIRD QUARTER: Colts Carson Wentz passed to T.Y. Hilton to the right for 45 yard touchdown. COLTS 17, RAIDERS 13 early in quarter.
FOURTH QUARTER: Raiders Derek Carr passed to Hunter Renfrow to the right for 11 yard touchdown. RAIDERS 20, COLTS 17 early in quarter.
Colts Michael Badgley kicked a 41-yard field goal. RAIDERS 20, COLTS 20 late in quarter.
Raiders Daniel Carlson with a 33 yard field goal as time expires. RAIDERS 23, COLTS 20 FINAL.
This is the pre-game story
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard couldn’t wait to get back to work Thursday.
He has even bigger plans for Sunday.
Less than three hours after team officials activated the two-time All-Pro and two other starters from the reserve/COVID-19 list, Leonard explained how difficult it was to miss Saturday’s game at Arizona — and how eager he is to face the Las Vegas Raiders this weekend.
“Actually, I tested negative that morning and then probably around 1 or 2 is when I tested positive,” he said while wearing a mask on a video call with reporters Thursday. “I got on a plane ride back home around 7 and now we’re here. I feel good.”
That’s good news for the Colts, who had six starters including Leonard out because of the virus last weekend and would have been severely short-handed Sunday if the NFL hadn’t reduced the isolation period from 10 days to five.
Under the previous guideline, Leonard would have missed this week’s game, too.
Instead, all six starters who missed the Arizona game because of the virus have been activated over the past two days. It’s still unclear whether quarterback Carson Wentz or right tackle Braden Smith will clear the protocols before Sunday.
But nobody missed the game more than the passionate Leonard, who uses any slight as motivation. And now the masterful takeaway artist has even bigger plans for Sunday — clinching a playoff spot by beating the Raiders.
“That definitely sucked — going home, not being able to go out there and perform with my guys, not being able to see my family, not being able to watch the game fully,” he said. “Thank God, they changed the rule. I’m back, I’m feeling good and I’m ready to rock ‘n’ roll.”
The Denver Broncos canceled practice Thursday as they retested five players whose results showed both positive and negative results. They held virtual meetings and planned to expand Friday’s practice to make up for the lost time on the field.
“The decision was made because we have some positives today. Some may be false positives. We’re working through that,” coach Vic Fangio said. “We’ll come out with the list here later today (with who) might be on it.
“I just felt that we needed to hit the pause button, get our hands around what we’ve got here as far as numbers and roster and we’re going to hold the meeting here this afternoon instead of practicing and the hope is tomorrow to have a good practice on Friday and Saturday and go out there and get us a W.”
After confirming infections, the Broncos placed four players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including two starters in nickel back Bryce Callahan and right tackle Bobby Massie. The others are backup outside linebacker Stephen Weatherly and reserve cornerback/special teams ace Mike Ford.