Young Raiders defense still looking for invaluable experience on how to close games

In the final home game of the season, the Raiders came up just a couple of plays short.

Despite being up two points with 19 seconds left in the game, the Raiders defense could not find a way to pull out the game, losing a devastating, last-second defeat to the Miami Dolphins.

"To watch it go like that, I'm sick for our organization. I'm sick for our defense. I'm sick for our team," said quarterback Derek Carr, who played through a groin injury sustained last week against the Chargers. "I feel sick for all those guys. My heart feels for them. My heart feels for our fans to watch and to be so excited and we take the lead, and then it's gone."

Coach Gruden decided to run the clock down in the red zone in order to give the ball back to the Dolphins with as little time as possible. The offense successfully vaporized the clock, setting up Daniel Carlson's 22-yard field goal to take the lead with 19 seconds left.

Then, disaster: Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 34-yard bomb to Mack Hollins with a 15-yard penalty added to it after a facemask call. This lead to Jason Sanders making a 44-yard field goal to win the game and officially end the Raiders playoff hopes. Despite how the Dolphins responded after scoring the field goal and not going for the touchdown, Gruden "doesn't regret [the decision] one bit, just the results."

"We played it exactly the way we wanted to play it," said Coach Gruden "It was a heck of a job by our offense, closing the deal as I thought, but unfortunately they made a desperation play, and the penalty was horrific."

Darren Waller performed above and beyond – as we have become accustomed to – going for 112 yards on 5 receptions. He also broke two Raider tight end records, becoming the second tight end in Raiders history to have two 1,000 receiving yard seasons as well as the most receptions for a tight end in a single season — both held by Todd Christensen.

"Definitely a great learning experience," said Waller. "When you feel this, you know what it's like and how it feels and you don't want to feel that anymore. So, I feel like the defense can definitely build off of this and learn how to close games because once we get out there and start closing games like I know that they're capable of doing, that puts this team on a whole other level. I'm excited to see them do that, and I know that they will do that in the future."

Carr, coming off a 336 passing yard, two total touchdown performance, also recognizes the need for his young team to grow and gain experience to avoid situations like this moving forward.

"There's a lot of young guys on this team, and it sucks to say, but we're building something," said Carr. "Sometimes you have to do that with young pieces, and for us old guys, sometimes things can get a bit frustrating, but I've been there. I've been in their shoes.

"I've had plenty of highs, plenty of lows in this league just like everybody, and crap happens in the NFL. What you can't change is your attitude and the way you come in to work everyday."

View photos from the Raiders' Week 16 matchup against the Miami Dolphins at Allegiant Stadium on Saturday night football.

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