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Questionable officiating calls loom large in Raiders' loss to Broncos

The stat sheet can be a confusing piece of paper sometimes; take the one from the Oakland Raiders' Week 17 game against the Denver Broncos for example.

At game's end – a 16-15 loss to the aforementioned Broncos – Derek Carr had thrown for 214 more yards than Drew Lock, the Silver and Black had outgained the Denver offense by nearly 30 yards on the ground, and Head Coach Jon Gruden's team had held the ball six minutes more than their AFC West foes as well.

But, perhaps the most confusing stat in the entire statistics packet was the lone touchdown – a fourth-quarter reception by Hunter Renfrow – because if you ask members of the Raiders, that number could easily have been three.

In the first half alone – and one the same drive, to boot – the Silver and Black had two questionable calls at the goal line, one where Renfrow was ruled down short of the end zone, and another where fullback Alec Ingold failed to score on a fourth and goal from the one-yard line, although a few camera angles told a different story.

Both plays were reviewed, although neither went the way of the Raiders, much to the chagrin of Gruden, Carr, and the rest of the visiting sideline.

"Definitely a touchdown," said Carr postgame when asked about Ingold's fourth down play. "Definitely a touchdown, but I'm not saying against the refs. To me, that's definitely a touchdown. They made the call – again, I'm not calling them out at all. I [want to] keep my money right here, but to me, I definitely thought it was a touchdown. Obviously, I'm biased, right? I'm a Raider. I'm sure the Broncos' hat man doesn't think so."

Now, did those two would-have, could-have-been scores lose the Raiders their regular season finale? Certainly not.

In fact, the team had a chance to win the game in the final seconds of regulation, but in a cruel twist of fate, former Raider Shelby Harris had other ideas. But, nevertheless, in a game as tightly contested as the one at Mile High Stadium Sunday afternoon, every, single point was at a premium.

The Raiders ultimately ended up with zero points on that second quarter drive where they thought they should have had seven, and while the Broncos' offense wasn't able to capitalize on the gift, that moment down in front of the end zone loomed large throughout the rest of the Week 17 affair.

"We had a touchdown to Renfrow called back by our friend in New York, and then I thought we scored," Gruden said postgame "I thought we were in on Ingold's play, so that's a zilch. And then we had a drive where we settled for a field goal, but they're a good defensive team. [Vic] Fangio's good. They got good players, but we left a lot out there. There were plays to be made, and we didn't make them. It comes back to me."

As Gruden said, his team did indeed leave some plays out on Empower Field, but it's fair to say they didn't get any help from the officiating crew in that regard either.

All the same, the Silver and Black needed to execute better to fly back to Northern California with a win, and while those two questionable – at best – calls were pivotal moments in Sunday's game, it wasn't the reason why the Raiders were unable to notch their eighth win of 2019.

All the same, one can't help but wonder, what if?

Check out photos from the Raiders' Week 17 matchup against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High.

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