The Las Vegas Raiders struck first on Saturday night, and they held a lead with under a minute to play against the Miami Dolphins. But they could not hold on to save their playoff lives, opting to run down the clock rather than score a touchdown late in the fourth quarter and watching as Ryan Fitzpatrick -- who was replacing a benched Tua Tagovailoa -- led Miami all the way down the field for a game-winning field goal. Despite herculean efforts from star tight end Darren Waller and some big downfield throws from Derek Carr, the Raiders fell 26-25 in prime time, officially missing out on the 2020 playoffs. The Dolphins, meanwhile, remain alive in the AFC Wild-Card picture after a big night for their defense and clutch backup (and/or future starting) QB in Fitzpatrick.
Neither side appeared particularly adept at situational football, at least on the offensive side of the ball, for much of the game. Las Vegas went 0-for-7 on third downs and inexplicably dedicated several key throws to Jason Witten despite a monster performance from Waller. Miami, meanwhile, seemed incapable of pushing the ball downfield as Tagovailoa resigned to short dump-offs and Myles Gaskin hand-offs.
But then everything changed in the fourth, when Flores pulled the plug on his rookie QB and inserted Fitzpatrick, who'd taken over for Tua once before this season. Instantly, the Dolphins began moving the ball with splash plays, and thanks to Jon Gruden's decision to kill time rather than bolster Vegas' late lead with a touchdown over a field goal, Fitzpatrick got the comeback opportunity with just 19 seconds to play -- and delivered, somehow finding Mack Hollins on a deep ball while being brought down by his face mask to set up Jason Sanders' winning kick.
Gruden and the Raiders (7-8) fared just fine on the stat sheet, averaging nearly six yards per play as Carr racked up more than 300 yards through the air and hit Nelson Agholor on several big plays. But they did not come up big when it mattered most, whereas Fitzpatrick absolutely did. He and the Dolphins (10-5) will close their 2020 season against the rival Buffalo Bills on Jan. 3.