The Las Vegas Raiders pulled out a week one win against the Baltimore Ravens in overtime on Monday night, 33-27. But the silver and black went through about a season's worth of emotions in just the very first game.
With Raider fans finally being allowed into their brand new stadium following the 2020 season that kept the Raider Nation on the couch for all home games. Along with the expectations and anticipation of starting the 2021 season on the right foot, this game felt far from perfect and quarterback Derek Carr’s post game interview was about as real as it gets.
“You always want it to go perfect but playing a defense like this, I’ve played them four or five times in my career now and it’s the most difficult thing you have to do.” Carr said of the Ravens in the post game interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters.
Carr and his offense looked confused on the first few drives. Third year center but first time starter Andre James sent a snap past Carr as he tried to communicate with wide receiver Bryan Edwards. Darren Waller had a couple of drops and Carr could not help himself from targeting Waller eight times in the first half, at times in the first 30-minutes it felt like it was Carr and Waller against the entire Baltimore Ravens defense.
The Raiders offense did not find their bearings until about the 8:15 mark in the second quarter, as Carr was able to put together a drive that resulted in six, to trim a 14 point deficit down to a single possession. It was what the defense was able to do following the score that started to even the playing field.
After a culture change within the Raiders defense over the off-season, new captain Maxx Crosby and newly acquired free agent signing KJ Wright. Played major roles in keeping the offense within reach of a game that quite frankly could have gotten completely out of hand.
On a fourth and short, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and his offense stayed on the field to go for the short yardage gain and attempt to potentially put their lead back to two possessions. KJ Wright, NFL’s 67th best player ranked by his peers, stuffed a run play to give Carr the ball back in a situation where he has led the Raiders to points six times last year.
Las Vegas was one of the best teams with the ball inside two minutes before the half last season. The Raiders excelled inside two minutes and were able to cut the lead down to four, heading into halftime.
This would not be the only time in the game the Raiders defense helped provide a spark for the offense.
With Baltimore receiving to start the half, they put a field goal on the board to make it 17-10. The score remained this way for the whole third quarter, yet the defense led by Maxx Crosby saw their captain pressure Jackson plenty of times.
Crosby’s impressive performance came on a national spotlight, as the Ravens and the entire NFL watched Crosby generate 13 pressures and sack Jackson twice.
Crosby’s relentless pressure forced Jackson into a major mistake in the fourth quarter. Scrambling up the middle on a 2nd and six away from Crosby, Quintion Jefferson who was signed this off-season punched the ball out of Jackson’s hands giving the Raiders the ball in great field position.
Josh Jacobs, who played with a very obvious right foot injury involving his toe, powered his way through for a touchdown to tie the game up at 17. Jacobs would rush for 34 yards and have two touchdowns, off of only 10 carries.
Jackson’s best drive of the game followed the Raiders tying score, as former Raider Latavius Murray took a lead with about five minutes remaining. Carr would respond with a deep throw to Henry Ruggs and to top it off a touchdown pass to Darren Waller.
Waller would end the game with 19 targets, 10 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.
By now, it is 24-24 in a game that has felt never ending. The Ravens set up the league's most accurate kicker in Justin Tucker to take a 27-24 lead. Of course the Raiders found a way to set up their kicker Daniel Carlson for a 55-yard field goal to tie, dragging this game into overtime.
Las Vegas would receive the overtime kick-off and look to put the dagger in the Ravens. For a minute the decision was made, Carr found Edwards who made a great play to score but upon further review he was just a fingertip short of the game winning touchdown.
Players even shook hands and walked off the field. All brought back on to get the actual outcome.
Three inches away from victory, Carr was stopped on a QB sneak. On the second attempt rookie right tackle Alex Leatherwood was flagged for a false start and then in dramatic Raiders fashion, doomsday happened.
Carr puts the ball right where it needs to be for Willie Snead to reel in the game-winning score. The pig skin riffles through Snead’s hands, off the helmet of a Raven defender and into the hands of a Baltimore teammate.
Everything instantly felt like Raider nation had their hearts pulled out. But for the first time in recent memory, the Raiders defense wrote a happy ending to this movie that for a moment felt like a horror film.
Carl Nassib pressured Jackson and created a strip sack to set the Raiders up for a game-winning field goal. The special teams and offense of the Raiders got their communications crossed-up and the team took a delay of game.
Carr then left on the field, on a 2nd and 9 found a wide-open Zay Jones making a throw off of his back foot as the Ravens blitzed the entire defense, leaving a walk-in winner for Jones and the Raiders.
With so much to unwrap in this single game the biggest take away may be the take away that a notoriously bad Raiders defense forced. A crucial turnover on one of the NFL’s superstars, in overtime and in primetime in front of the entire nation to see.
Carr ended his postgame interview with this, “what I love the most is everyone talking crap about our defense for 12 months and they stepped up when we needed it the most and got us the ball back so we can win it again”.
Win it again. Some key words from Carr in such a great interview, as week one felt like the Raiders already did play two games and did win them twice.
Obviously not. In all seriousness the Raiders along with the rest of the AFC West are 1-0 and the silver and black head out to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in week two.