Raiders do just enough things right to defeat Packers, 17-13

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
The Raiders defense had three interceptions and held on to win 17-13 over the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.

LAS VEGAS — Perhaps having the Stanley Cup inside Allegiant Stadium would create some positive juju for the Las Vegas Raiders, a team in desperate need of some.

Let’s put it this way, how could it have possibly hurt the Raiders to be in Lord Stanley’s presence, or that of the Vegas Golden Knights? 

The Knights, who raise their Cup championship banner Tuesday night at a sold-out T-Mobile Arena, tried do their part to help their Vegas neighbors Monday. They lit the Al Davis torch and with the Cup making an appearance, a fact that wasn’t lost on ESPN, given it is broadcasting the Knights’ home opener Tuesday vs. Seattle, why not do a little cross promotion on TV?

But hockey can wait until Tuesday. Monday was supposed to be about football and somehow, the Raiders found a way to keep it together and defeat the Green Bay Packers, 17-13.

Three takeaways — two interceptions from linebacker Robert Spillane and a pick from cornerback Amik Robertson in the end zone with 44 seconds left helped get the Raiders to 2-3, snapping a three-game slide and perhaps generating some momentum to get to and beyond .500 in the next couple of weeks. Struggling 1-4 New England comes to town Sunday followed by a trip to Chicago, which is no great shakes at 1-4 like the Pats.

“We’ve got to use this momentum to our advantage,” said Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who returned as the starter after missing last week’s loss to the Chargers with concussion issues and was 22 of 31 for 208 yards, a touchdown and an interception. “It was a good atmosphere to play in (Monday).”  

That the Packers fans turned Allegiant into Lambeau West and as is the case seemingly every Raiders home game, their opponent has more support than they do. I’m sure Mark Davis is none too happy about it, much the way Bill Foley, the Knights owner, doesn’t want anybody in his building who isn’t rooting for the VGK. But the Knights play 41 home games. The visiting team usually gets a few of its supporters in T-Mobile, but not even close to the numbers that flock to Allegiant to root against the Raiders.

Perhaps that will change once the Raiders are winning consistently again, which may be a while given what we’ve been watching during the Dave Ziegler-Josh McDaniels Era thus far. 

But Monday night, with the entire nation looking on, the Raiders figured things out. Was it a perfect performance? Far from it. Garoppolo was sacked three times. It took him a while to figure out Davante Adams no longer plays for the Packers and then hit him four times for 45 yards, including a 21-yard gain in the fourth quarter.

But the Raiders’ defense did its job save for one blown coverage that led to a third-quarter 77-yard pass play from Jordan Love to Christian Watson. But even then, with the ball at the Las Vegas 3, the Packers wound up settling for a field goal.

“I’m very proud of our group,” said McDaniels, who has been and remains under fire for his decision making. “I gave our guys a lot of credit for hanging there and grinding it out.”

He was also happy to see running back Josh Jacobs look like Josh Jacobs, and not some impostor. Jacobs ran for 69 yards, had five catches for an additional 20 yards and it was easily his best performance so far this season.

“Jake is ready every day,” McDaniels said. “He’s running hard every play. I’ve said it before, I love the player. I love the kid. He plays so hard.”

It’s obvious the Packers, who are 2-3, miss Aaron Rodgers. Love is simply not experienced enough to rally his team to victory. Yes, he did so a couple of weeks ago against New Orleans. But he’s still learning and at the NFL level, you’re going to struggle at times as a young QB.

This was the kind of game the Raiders had a chance to win going in. But given their dubious reputation, you also knew they could find a way to blow it. But when you do enough things right to negate the wrongs you perpetrated, you can exit the field feeling good about yourself.

It wasn’t pretty. It was weird at times. I mean Daniel Carlson missing two field goals? But for the 62,572 who were in Allegiant in part to salute the Knights, in part pulling for the Packers thanks to the vast number of Cheeseheads who infiltrated the building, leaving Monday as a Raider fan had to feel good. And how often can we say that this year?