LAS VEGAS (AP) — After a premature bench-clearing celebration and a couple of blunders that almost cost the Raiders the game, the party could finally begin for real after the first game with fans in Las Vegas.
The Raiders won an exhilarating and exhausting season opener thanks to a furious rally, a stellar defensive play from Carl Nassib and a perfect play call that produced a 31-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Zay Jones that gave the Raiders a 33-27 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
“Felt like I died and woke up. And died. And woke up again,” coach Jon Gruden said. “I was like a cat — I had multiple lives.”
Carr engineered three game-tying drives in the fourth quarter and before winning it in the wild overtime.
He appeared to win it with a 33-yard TD pass to Bryan Edwards on the first possession of overtime only to have the celebration halted when replay put the ball at the 1.
An unsuccessful QB sneak, a false start from rookie Alex Leatherwood and then an interception that deflected off Willie Snead’s hands appeared to cost the Raiders the game.
“I’m really happy that we got we got the win on the day that kind of made a little bit of history,” Nassib said.
The Raiders then made another blunder by committing a delay of game before a field goal try, leading to Gruden sending the offense back on the field.
The Ravens sent a blitz and Carr lofted a pass that Jones ran under for the score, sending the Raiders pouring out on the field for a second celebration.
“I’m glad coach trusted us, put it in our hands at the end,” Carr said. “Because it always feels good to win that way, especially when you almost gave away.”
The Raiders trailed 14-0 early, ending a 98-game, regular-season win streak for the Ravens when leading by at least 14 points dating to 2004.
The loss capped a rough stretch for the Ravens, who have had a run of injuries that sidelined top three running backs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, as well as cornerback Marcus Peters, for the season.
“We just didn’t close the game out when we had the opportunity to do it three or four times,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s what you need to do when you have an opportunity to win, you got to win. We just didn’t do that tonight.”
They had won the past five openers by a margin of 177-26, but came up short in this nail-biter thanks to a strong game from Carr, who threw for 435 yards .
The overtime came after a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter that featured the Raiders rallying to tie the game on three separate occasions, with Carr driving Las Vegas to a tying 55-yard field goal in the final 37 seconds.
The Ravens had taken the lead when Jackson scrambled 28 yards to help set up Justin Tucker’s 47-yard field goal.
But Jackson is still haunted by the two late fumbles.
“That ticked me off,” he said. “I hate any type of turnover.”
The Raiders earlier got a forced fumble by Quinton Jefferson against Jackson to set up Josh Jacobs’ 15-yard TD run, tying the game at 17. The Ravens answered when former Raider Latavius Murray ran it in from 8 yards one play after Jackson found Sammy Watkins on a mismatch for a 49-yard pass.
Carr then connected on a 37-yard pass to Henry Ruggs III that set up a tying 10-yard TD to Darren Waller with 3:44 to play.
Jackson’s TD pass to Marquise Brown in the first half was a spectacular individual effort. He escaped pressure from Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue and scrambled before finding Brown in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard score.
According to NFL NextGen stats, Jackson took 7.84 seconds to throw for the fifth longest on a TD pass in the past five seasons and scrambled 27 yards for his most ever on a TD.
GO FOR IT
The Raiders got stopped on a fourth-and-1 run by Jacobs at the Ravens 13 in the third quarter.
The Raiders got off to a sluggish start offensively after sitting most of their starters in the preseason. A holding penalty and botched snap spoiled a promising first drive that reached the Ravens 21 before going backwards and ending in a punt.
The Raiders then punted on the next three drives, marking the first time in 15 years they punted on the first four drives of the season.
They then scored twice late in teh half to make it 14-10 at the break.
Ravens: G Tyre Phillips was taken off the field on a cart late in the first half after injuring his leg and didn’t return.
Raiders: G Denzelle Good left in the first half with a knee injury. … Ngakoue left in the second half with a hamstring injury. … DT Gerald McCoy was taken off on a cart in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
Ravens: Host Kansas City on Sunday night. Baltimore has lost four straight against the Chiefs, including all three matchups between Jackson and Patrick Mahomes.
Raiders: Visit Pittsburgh on Sunday.
This post will be updated throughout the game
FIRST QUARTER: Ravens TD on 4th down. Ty’Son Williams goes up the middle for 35 yards. RAVENS 7, RAIDERS 0, 1:47 left in quarter.
SECOND QUARTER: Ravens TD Lamar Jackson 13 yard pass to Marquise Brown. RAVENS 14, RAIDERS 0, 8:52 left in quarter.
Raiders TD Josh Jacobs rushed up the middle for 2 yard touchdown (Daniel Carlson made PAT). RAVENS 14, RAIDERS 7, 4:14 left in quarter.
Raiders Daniel Carlson with a 34 yard field goal at the end of the first half. RAVENS 14, RAIDERS 10, HALFTIME
THIRD QUARTER: Ravens Justin Tucker with a 40 yard field goal. RAVENS 17, RAIDERS 14, 8:34 left in quarter.
FOURTH QUARTER: Raiders Josh Jacobs with a 15 yard TD run. RAIDERS 17, RAVENS 17, 9:18 left in quarter.
Ravens Latavius Murray rushed up the middle for 8 yard touchdown (Justin Tucker made PAT). RAVENS 24, RAIDERS 17, 6:04 left in quarter.
Raiders Derek Carr pass to Darren Waller to the right for 10 yard touchdown (Daniel Carlson made PAT) RAIDERS 24, RAVENS 24, 3:44 left in quarter.
Ravens Justin Tucker with a 47 yard field goal. RAVENS 27, RAIDERS 24 with :37 second left in quarter
Raiders Daniel Carlson with a 55 yard field goal. RAIDERS 27, RAIDERS 27 headed to OT.
OVERTIME: Raiders Derek Carr 31 yard TD pass to Zay Jones, RAIDERS 33, RAVENS 27 FINAL
5:15 p.m. kickoff for Ravens vs. Ravens at Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas
The opening season for the Raiders in Las Vegas proved to be a bit of a dud.
With no fans allowed at games, the Raiders stumbled to a 2-6 record at home in their first season since moving from Oakland and missed the playoffs for the 17th time in 18 seasons.
Now they get a second chance at an opening when they welcome in fans for the first time in the regular season when they get to show off their fancy new digs on Monday night against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.
“I still sometimes pinch myself,” coach Jon Gruden said. “You’re out there looking at the mountains. You see the Strip out there and you’re getting ready to play pro football here. It’s really a credit to Mark Davis and a lot of people in this city to make this happen. Vegas is an exciting and, like I said, I hope we give them a show that is worth the price.”
The Raiders opened the $1.9 billion stadium just off that Las Vegas Strip last season, but never allowed fans in to see the games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Davis opted against having small crowds, saying he would only let fans in when every season-ticket holder could come. Even Davis stayed home last season, watching home games off-site.
The 65,000-seat stadium that resembles the Death Star from “Star Wars” from the outside features a translucent roof that allows in natural light, sliding lanai doors that look out at the Strip, and a field-level club in one end zone that features two DJ booths, premium bottle service and a 45,000-watt sound system.
It’s a far cry from the dilapidated Oakland Coliseum with its dirt infield and run-down locker rooms that flooded.
All that’s been missing so far is a home-field advantage as the Raiders matched a franchise worst mark with six home losses last season.
The Raiders hope their passionate fans help change that pattern in 2021.
“I’m really excited,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That preseason game, I was hyped even though I knew I wasn’t playing. Just going through pregame was awesome. Hearing our fans, when the defense made a big hit, hearing them go nuts and things like that, that was fun.”
Baltimore lost running back J.K. Dobbins in the preseason to a season-ending knee injury. Of course, quarterback Lamar Jackson ran for 1,005 yards in 2020, a big reason the Ravens topped the league in rushing.
“J.K. is a tremendous back. We would have loved to have him, but we’re confident in the guys we have,” receiver Marquise Brown said. “We’re confident in what we can do in the pass game. So, we’re just going to continue to go forward and keep pushing.”
Gus Edwards injured his knee as well. Ty’Son Williams, a practice squad player for the Ravens last season, made this year’s team and is expected to contribute at running back. Baltimore also signed Le’Veon Bell to the practice squad, and agent Drew Rosenhaus said Thursday that Devonta Freeman was joining the Ravens’ practice squad as well.
The Raiders focused heavily on improving a defense that allowed the most points in the NFL in Gruden’s first three seasons. Gus Bradley was hired to replace the fired Paul Guenther as coordinator and has a few new pieces that should help in edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue, veteran cornerback Casey Hayward and rookie safety Tre’von Moehrig.
A foot injury that placed linebacker Nicholas Morrow on injured reserve left the Raiders seeking reinforcements at the position just before the season. They traded for Denzel Perryman for depth in the middle and then last week signed K.J. Wright, who was still seeking a job despite being one of the most dependable linebackers in the league the past decade.
“(I) had a lot of people doubt me this offseason, I’m still keeping it going,” Wright said. “I’m thankful to be here, but that burning desire you’re talking about, it’s on 100 right now.”
THE NEXT STEP
Baltimore won a playoff game last season for the first time with Jackson, but the Ravens had room for improvement — namely, their passing game, which ranked last in the league. Baltimore acquired Sammy Watkins to boost the receiving group. The Ravens also drafted receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round, although he’s been out with groin issues.
“We have a possibility to take it the distance for whoever gets the ball,” Brown said. “So, I’m excited about that.”
For the second straight season the Raiders are projected to start the inexperienced Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards at receiver. The duo struggled as rookies with Ruggs catching 26 passes and Edwards only 11. With Nelson Agholor having left in free agency and John Brown getting released, the Raiders will need much better production from those two to help quarterback Derek Carr in the passing game.