LAS VEGAS -- The last time the Las Vegas Raiders made a deep playoff run, way back in -- checks calendar -- 2002, it was a safety who made a touchdown-saving interception to save the season. At the goal line. Against the Denver Broncos.
Now, we're not saying Jeff Heath is Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, who had a 98-yard pick-six in a tight game back then, but Heath's goal-line pick of Drew Lock (it was Heath's second INT of the day) with seconds to go in the first half saved the Raiders' 10-6 halftime lead.
Heath, combined with a rugged rushing performance by Josh Jacobs, helped launch the Raiders to a 37-12 win over the Broncos as Las Vegas improved to 6-3 on the season and stayed on track for a -- gulp -- playoff spot. It was the Raiders' third straight win and they are 3-0 in the division for the first time since 2010.
Up next, the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, whose lone loss in the last calendar year came against these same Raiders back in Week 5.
Describe the game in two words: Slob. Knocker. Or is that one word? In any event, the Raiders could not get out of their own way before grinding things out in the second half to make it a laugher, and that, no doubt, is one word.
Sell on a breakout performance: The Raiders limited the Broncos to no yards -- NONE! -- in the third quarter. Denver only ran four plays in the quarter and the Raiders defense did have to hold the Broncos, but this was a by-product of the Raiders offense chewing up the clock.
Promising trend: Even with a makeshift offensive line, Jacobs was getting plenty of real estate before being touched. In the first half alone, Jacobs gained 52 of his 66 rushing yards before contact, averaging 5.2 yards before contact per rush. He entered the day averaging just 1.92 yards before contact per rush, which was 45th among 48 qualified rushers. Jacobs, who finished with 112 yards rushing on 21 carries for his second triple-digit rushing day of the month, was also untouched on his third-quarter TD. In fact, it was Jacobs' sixth career multiple rushing TD game, tying him with Hall of Famer Marcus Allen for most such games in through a player's first two seasons in franchise history. Devontae Booker also added two late rushing TDs against his former team.
QB Breakdown: Maybe the ever-shifting offensive line is finally having an effect on Derek Carr, because he was not sharp early. Still, he did enough, and on this day that's all the Raiders needed. Carr's completion percentage was less than 67% for the fourth game in a row but, hey, the Raiders are 3-1 in those games. He passed for 154 yards while completing 16 of 25 attempts and did not have a TD pass for the first time since Week 12 last season at the New York Jets. Still, he held onto the ball as he did not throw a pick and he still has only two INTs on the season. Carr was, though, victimized by curious drops from Darren Waller and Nelson Agholor and a strange no-catch by Henry Ruggs III on a deep ball.
Pivotal play: Heath's pick at the end of the second quarter came one play after Lock had pranced into the end zone for a TD to take the lead. Heath, though, had convinced the referees that he had been held. Fair enough. And after the flag was thrown, Heath stepped in front of Jerry Jeudy for the interception and returned it 18 yards.