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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 January 2019

Raiders enjoy victorious finale to potentially final NFL season in Oakland

Franchise's future for 2019 uncertain ahead of planned move to Las Vegas in 2020

Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquel Lee, centre, celebrates with fans. USA Today Sports
Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquel Lee, centre, celebrates with fans. USA Today Sports

Dwayne Harris returned a punt 99 yards for a touchdown and the Oakland Raiders beat the Denver Broncos 27-14 on Monday in what might have been the hosts' final NFL game in Oakland.

Doug Martin and Jalen Richard added touchdown runs for Oakland in a game between teams already eliminated from playoff contention.

The Raiders improved to 4-11 but will miss the playoffs for the 15th time in 16 years while Denver fell to 6-9, ensuring back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72.

It was the 174th Raiders win in their 303rd game at the Oakland Coliseum, which opened in 1966 and remains the only NFL stadium shared with a Major League Baseball club, the Oakland A's.

A federal anti-trust lawsuit filed by the city of Oakland to recover damages related to the Raiders' planned move to Las Vegas in 2020 prompted the team to retract a one-year lease offer for the 2019 campaign earlier this month, leaving the team's home venue uncertain for next season.

Quarterback Derek Carr and coach Jon Gruden were among the Raiders who after the game went to the "Black Hole" -- an area where devoted Raiders fans dress in monster-themed Silver and Black outfits -- and exchanged high-five hand slaps with supporters for what might be the last time.

"Raider Nation is tough, gritty and loyal. We've had a lot of good times in that stadium," Carr said. "Raider Nation is the most loyal fan base in the world. We don't know if we're going to be here next year so I wanted to say thank you to all of them, thanks for having our back."

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Gruden added: "Our fans fuelled us. To share the victory with them is always special."

Options mentioned for Raiders 2019 home games include sharing the NFL San Francisco 49ers stadium in nearby Santa Clara, playing at the home of baseball's San Francisco Giants, striking a deal with Oakland or playing home games in London, England.

The NFL has staged games in London since 2007, playing three contests at Wembley Stadium this year.

Raiders owner Mark Davis says he hopes to decide in a few weeks on the team's home for next season.

Harris opened the scoring 4:50 into the game, matching the second-longest runback in NFL history. Martin added a 24-yard touchdown run and Dan Carlson added a 43-yard field goal for a 17-0 Oakland half-time edge, their biggest lead this season.

Denver answered on Case Keenum's 7-yard touchdown pass to DaeSean Hamilton but the Raiders responded on Richard's 3-yard touchdown run.

Keenum flipped a 19-yard touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton with 7:31 remaining, but Carlson added a 45-yard field goal to create the final margin of the Raiders' first Monday night win since 2002 after seven losses in a row.

Updated: December 25, 2018 10:46 AM

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