The Raiders have excelled in the last quarter of the game several times this season. The term 'last quarter' doesn't necessarily reflect the fourth quarter though.
The last quarter for the Raiders this season has gone beyond the fourth quarter. And when they've had to play past the fourth quarter into their last quarter – they haven't been defeated this season.
The Silver and Black had multiple occasions to put the game away Sunday. However, the Chargers trailing 15 points with less than 9 minutes in the game, to their credit, did not surrender.
Justin Herbert and the Bolts rallied behind from a 15-point deficit to tie the game at the end of regulation. On the last drive of the fourth quarter, the Chargers offense converted on three fourth downs to drive the ball down the field 78 yards. The drive was capped off with a 12-yard touchdown catch by Mike Williams as the clock hit triple zeros. A good extra point attempt tied it up.
"There were so many fourth downs, so many opportunities to get them off the field. We were just stressed out," Maxx Crosby said with a chuckle after the game. "Guys were cramping up, hurting. And we just had to make our mind up at the end of the day.
"We had to dig deep."
The game would then go into the last quarter. Overtime.
"I'm the closer. That's what you brought me here for, let me close." Josh Jacobs
The legs of Josh Jacobs fueled the Raiders in the overtime period. Of his 132 rushing yards against the Chargers, 69 came in the overtime period. Coming into the season finale, Jacobs was suffering from a rib injury that had him listed as questionable. Yet there was nothing questionable about the way Jacobs played, and how he wanted to end the regular season.
"I told them, there's no way I don't play in this game – hurt or not," said Jacobs. "They were going to get everything out of me. So just how it played out was amazing, for real."
In OT, the Chargers would respond to Daniel Carlson's made field goal with one of their own that tied the game back up with 4:35 remaining. The ball was once again put in the hands of Jacobs to finish the Bolts off.
"When the four minutes came before overtime, I told them 'I'm the closer. That's what you brought me here for, let me close,'" continued Jacobs. "When we got the opportunity and they tied the game in overtime, I looked at Oly [offensive coordinator Greg Olson] and I said, 'It's time.' And we collectively came together. ... And we just made it happen."
The last play came down once again to Daniel Carlson, and the pressure of the last-second situation was far from daunting for the kicker. He had already been under it so many times this season.
"I'm pretty even keel. I think personality-wise, that's kind of me and the experiences helped for sure of getting more and more of these," Carlson said on his last-second kicks this season. "For me, it's just doing the same thing whether I'm in practice – any other kick in that game was just as important. The first four was just as important as that last one. ... It's definitely something I've tried to get a little more used to.
"That's what makes it so fun though, especially as a kicker. Not that our job gets boring, but the butterflies, the adrenaline, those big kicks – that's what makes it exciting."
The fourth-year kicker would knock down the 47-yard field goal to win the game and send his team to the playoffs. It was his fifth field goal made of the game and his fifth game-winning field goal of the season.
The Raiders complete their season undefeated in games that have come down to the last quarter – with a 4-0 record in overtime games. Hunter Renfrow, who finished the game with two touchdowns, was ready for whatever happened in Allegiant Stadium. With the Raiders winning seven games this season by less than a touchdown, Renfrow's demeanor never changes as the games get closer, as he's become so accustomed to a close finish.
"[T]he butterflies, the adrenaline, those big kicks – that's what makes it exciting." Daniel Carlson
"It reminds me a lot of our 2016 National Championship team at Clemson. We won like seven games by a touchdown or less," Renfrow said on the five-year anniversary of his game-winning touchdown catch in the 2017 College Football National Championship game. "You get used to winning. You get used to winning the close games. I think that came in play tonight and its good for the young guys on the team to be able to experience it. And as we go on the rest of this year and next year and the year after, we've got a program of winning.
"I think the adversity we've been through has definitely made us tighter."
The Raiders' commitment to pulling out tight finishes was not just on display against the Chargers. It's been a theme of the team the entire season. They've now racked up 10 wins and the fifth seed in the AFC.
And without their four overtime wins this season – including their latest one against the Chargers – it wouldn't have been possible.
View photos from the Raiders' Week 18 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium