CINCINNATI (AP) — An entire month had come and gone without even one win, leaving the Bengals in their deepest drought since 2010.
Joe Mixon provided just enough to give the sparse crowd a reason to cheer at the end of their final home game.
Mixon ran for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns Sunday, and Cincinnati held on for a 30-16 victory over the Oakland Raiders that ended one of their longest losing streaks under coach Marvin Lewis, but couldn’t prevent the Bengals from being eliminated from playoff contention for the third straight season.
The Bengals (6-8) had dropped five straight — their third-worst slump during Lewis’ 16 seasons — before finding a team struggling as much as them.
Mixon’s 15-yard touchdown with 4:04 left capped his second straight 100-yard game and clinched the Bengals’ first win since October.
“I feel like it’s been a loooooong time since we were able to do that,” Mixon said.
Cincinnati distributed 44,568 tickets for its final home game. The Bengals had the second-smallest season attendance in Paul Brown Stadium’s 19 seasons as fans showed frustration with another disappointing season under Lewis.
The Steelers’ 17-10 win over the Patriots later Sunday ended the Bengals’ minuscule chances of winning the AFC North.
In a few weeks, Cincinnati will be waiting to see whether Lewis is around for another year or whether the small crowds will prompt owner Mike Brown to make significant changes. The slump-busting win provided a temporary relief.
“I’ve never dealt with losing my whole life, even back to grade school,” said rookie defensive end Sam Hubbard, who had two sacks and forced a fumble. “To come out with a win really feels great.”
The Raiders (3-11) are already in next-year mode. They fired general manager Reggie McKenzie on Monday and had little on the line against the Bengals.
Oakland was trying to win two in a row for the first time this season, and Derek Carr was closing in on a club record for avoiding interceptions. Carr got his record, but the sloppy Raiders lost again with a nondescript performance.
“I ain’t got much to talk about, guys,” tight end Jared Cook said.
The Raiders’ offensive line has been depleted by injuries. They struggled to get anything going consistently, managing 297 total yards.
“This stings,” coach Jon Gruden said. “It’s hard to lose. It’s a hard situation with a lot of the moving parts that we have.”
With Mixon the focal point, the Bengals put together their biggest first half since their previous victory, 37-34 over Tampa Bay on Oct. 28. Lewis went for it twice on fourth down and produced a pair of touchdown drives. Mixon surged into the end zone on fourth down from the 1-yard line for a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
Jeff Driskel struggled in his third start replacing the injured Andy Dalton, repeatedly overthrowing receivers. He had a 7-yard touchdown to Tyler Boyd for Cincinnati’s first score, but Driskel finished 14 of 33 for 130 yards with an interception.
Carr was 21 of 38 for 263 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions for the ninth straight game. With his 14th pass, Carr broke Rich Gannon’s club record for the longest stretch without throwing an interception — 277 in 2001. He was lucky to get that far: Bengals safety Shawn Williams dropped a ball thrown directly to him on Oakland’s first possession.
BOYD HITS 1,000
Boyd reached 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career before hurting his right knee late in the first half. He didn’t return. Afterward, he said the injury isn’t serious. With A.J. Green out for the season with a toe injury, Boyd is the leading receiver with 1,028 yards on 76 catches.
“That’s something I wanted to accomplish since got to the NFL,” Boyd said. “Now that I’ve done it, it’s on to the next one. I think have to think about, let it marinate.”
MIXON ALMOST THERE
Mixon’s big game left him 5 yards shy of 1,000 for the first time in his two-year career.
In a play that symbolized the Raiders’ day, Carr spiked the ball at midfield trying to stop the clock as the first half wound down, but took too long and there was no time left when the ball hit the ground.
Raiders: LG Kelechi Osemele was out for the second straight game with a toe injury, and RG Gabe Jackson was inactive with an elbow injury. CB Gareon Conley got a concussion.
Bengals: LB Vontaze Burfict missed his second straight game with a concussion.
Raiders host Denver on Monday night. They lost at Denver 20-19 in the second game of the season.
Bengals play at Cleveland on Sunday. The Browns won at Paul Brown Stadium 35-20 on Nov. 25.