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The Raiders' season ends in vastly different, yet similar fashion to how it started

The Las Vegas Raiders' 2023 season began with a victory against the Denver Broncos.

The Las Vegas Raiders' 2023 season ended with a victory against the Denver Broncos.

Eighteen weeks apart, there were more differences than similarities on the team between the two wins. The Silver and Black went through a series of ups-and-downs with coaching changes, front office changes, injuries and a transition at starting quarterback.

One thing remained the same though: a collective effort in all three phases of the game, with every player coming together to leave the field with satisfying results.

The offense got maximum production out of their young core in Sunday's 27-14 win, with second-year running back Zamir White finishing with 112 rushing yards. He's now the only player in franchise history to record two 100-yard performances in his first four career starts. Additionally, rookie wide receiver Tre Tucker led the team in receiving yards (79) and receptions (five).

A main theme of the Raiders this season was the progression of the defense, led by defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The unit held the Broncos offense to 48 rushing yards and 14 points, while totaling five sacks in the season finale.

Three-time Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby picked up his 14.5 sack, now having recorded 52 sacks through his first five NFL seasons.

"It's a testament to all those guys," Crosby said of the team's recent successes. "Love those dudes, we built something special. We spend every single day with each other, we have dinners every single week with each other. We talked about it from the second we got here in OTAs. I can't be more proud of this group.

"[Defensive line coach] Robby Leonard, I've got to give credit to him and [assistant defensive line coach] Matt Edwards, they've been incredible stepping in as our coaches. We have a special group as a D-line and we're going to keep building that up."

With less than two minutes left in regulation, safety Tre’von Moehrig secured the last takeaway for the Raiders. It was a poetic way to wrap things up considering the emphasis put on turnovers throughout the offseason. The Silver and Black secured eight more takeaways this season than in 2022.

"It felt good to close out the season like that," said Moehrig. "We honed in on that all year and I think Raider Nation saw that we got our hands on the ball, took away the ball so hopefully we can continue to do that next year."

Antonio Pierce, who took over as interim head coach in Week 9, ended the year with a 5-4 record at the helm. Through the undeniable roller coaster of the 2023 season, the effort the Raiders gave can be commended. And most of all, they had fun through the ride.

"I was having fun as a linebacker coach but it's really cool being a head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders," Pierce said. "Really cool being in front of a room of men who buy in and believe what you're telling them, what you're saying, how to do things.

"How to do things maybe differently than everybody expects you to do it, maybe not the norm. But I love football, man. I've said it before, it is my first love."

View photos from the Raiders' Week 18 matchup against the Denver Broncos at Allegiant Stadium.

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