For a while, it appeared the Las Vegas Raiders were not quite ready for primetime. Still, in the end, they gave a packed house at Allegiant Stadium and a national television offense a drama to remember.
The Raiders fell behind by two touchdowns in the second quarter. Still, Derek Carr hit wide-open receiver Zay Jones for a 31-yard touchdown pass with 3:38 left in overtime to beat Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, 33-27, on Monday Night Football before 65,000 frenzied fans.
Last season, fans were not allowed in Allegiant Stadium because of the Coronavirus pandemic, but the Silver and Black gave Raider Nation something to help make up for that.
“That was audible that Coach (Jon Gruden) told me to go to if the defense did a certain thing,” said Carr, who, after a slow start, completed 34-of-56 passes for 435 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. “We’ve played two Monday night games with Zay Jones, and he caught touchdown passes in both.
“You would like perfect, but after we messed up the first time in overtime, the defense got us the ball back, and I knew they would. Everyone disrespected our defense throughout the offseason, but they came through for us so we could win the game.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do but it was great to win this game because it would have been hard to sleep tonight if we had lost.”
By winning, the Raiders remained even with their AFC rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Denver Broncos, and Los Angeles Chargers, who all won their openers.
The Raiders scored 17 points in the last 9:20 of regulation to tie the score, 27-27, with two seconds left on a 55-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson, won the toss to started and seemed to have the game won on their first possession in the extra period.
Carr hit Bryan Edwards for 11 yards, Hunter Renfrow turned a short pass into a brilliant 27-yard gain, and Carr found Edwards down the right sideline for what appeared to be a game-winning 31-yard touchdown, and the crowd went wild, even spilling onto the field.
However, after reviewing the replay, the officials ruled Edwards was down at the one-yard line.
After Carr was stopped on a quarterback sneak, rookie tackle Alex Leatherwood jumped offside, moving the ball back to the six. After Carr threw incomplete for Renfrow in the end zone, his pass on third down went through receiver Willie Snead’s hands, bounced off the helmet of safety DeShon Elliott and was intercepted by cornerback Anthony Averett.
Needing only a field goal to win the game, Jackson hit Sammy Watkins for 10 yards, but on third down was sacked and forced to fumble by defensive end Carl Nassib, with fellow defensive end Darius Philon recovering for the Raiders at the Baltimore 27.
Kenyan Drake ran for one yard on first down, and Gruden sent Carlson and the field goal team onto the field, but the Raiders were called for delay of game, so Gruden sent the offense back out.
Carr hit Jones with the game-winner on the next play.
“I felt like a cat--like I had multiple lives tonight,” Gruden said. “I felt like I died and woke back up, but we were very competitive tonight. We have a lot of young guys who stepped up and played very hard for the whole game, and that’s why we won.
“We were behind, 14-0, early but we came back and got back into the game, but things just kept on happening. But like they say around here, ‘Just win, Baby!”
Jackson, the Ravens’ All-Pro quarterback who was the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player in 2019, and the Baltimore offense controlled most of the first three quarters.
Not only did Jackson complete 19-of-30 passes for 235 yards, but he also ran 12 times—some planned and some not—for 86 yards.
With J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, the Ravens’ top two running back out for the season because of injuries, Ty’Son Williams stepped up and rushed nine times for 65 yards and a 35-yard touchdown that gave Baltimore a 7-0 lead with 1:47 left in the first quarter.
Jackson’s 10-yard scoring pass to Marquise Brown made it 14-0 with 8:52 left in half.
Josh Jacobs, who was limited to 34 yards on 10 carries in part because of a nagging toe injury, got the Raiders on the board with a two-yard scoring run with 4:14 left in the second quarter and added a 15-yard touchdown run that made it 17-17 with 9:18 left in the third quarter.
And the Raiders just kept coming.
Tight end Darren Waller led the Raiders with ten receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown, Edwards caught four balls for 81 yards, Renfrow had six catches 70 yards, while Jones and Henry Ruggs III both caught two for 46.
On defense, linebackers Denzel Perryman and Cory Littleton each made ten tackles, safety Johnathan Abram had nine, and defensive end Maxx Crosby made six stops, two of the Raiders’ three sacks, and had five quarterback hits against Jackson.
As rewarding as this victory is, the Raiders don’t have long to celebrate because they are on the road next Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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