If this was the last game in Oakland, the Raiders went out with a bang.
Dwayne Harris’ 99-yard punt return set the tone as the Raiders rolled to a 27-14 victory over the Denver Broncos on Monday in what could be the last of 303 regular-season football games at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Despite a pregame downpour and generally lousy conditions throughout the game, despite it being Christmas Eve, despite their team’s next-to-NFL-worst 3-11 record coming in, Raider Nation roared.
“With the record we have this year, they still showed up,” said Derek Carr, who took a lap around the stadium after the victory. “They have all season. They were on fire. It’s not the professional football atmosphere where everyone is in a tie and doing their thing. It is football, it is a rough and gritty place. I think that it reminded me a lot of home and that is Fresno. That is how I like to play football.”
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Monday’s game became a de facto going-away party for the Raiders, who are moving to the new Las Vegas Stadium in 2020 but are in limbo for 2019 without a contract to return to the Coliseum.
Carr said two weeks ago that he would lobby for Fresno, but is hoping the Raiders can play another season in Oakland.
Former Raider Khalil Mack, traded to the Chicago Bears before the season, sent his well wishes to his former team and described what it’s like to play for the fans.
“Those are my brothers (in Oakland),” Mack told reporters after Sunday’s Bears game at San Francisco. “That place could get loud. Even in bad seasons and bad times, they came in there and they supported the Raiders. It’s going to be bittersweet for those guys, I already know.”
“I don’t like it,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “It’s too sentimental tonight. it’s for other people to decide” where the Raiders will play next season. “The love affair for the fans here with the Raiders goes way back and when we get this result like we did tonight, it is a Merry Christmas for everybody.”
Lynch lights the torch
Marshawn Lynch hasn’t played since Week 4 against Seattle, but he had a hand in Monday’s game by lighting the torch in honor of the late Al Davis.
If this is Lynch’s last season he would finish with 10,379 yards and 84 touchdowns with two Super Bowl titles with the Seattle Seahawks.
Lynch hasn’t said if he’ll return next season..
Raiders center Rodney Hudson was selected by teammates as the team’s Commitment to Excellence Award winner, marking the second-straight year that he has picked up the honor.
Anthony Galaviz: 559-441-6042, agalaviz_TheBee