by Josh Dubo AP Pro Football Writer
LAS VEGAS – After a premature bench-clearing fest and a few blunders that nearly cost the Raiders a game, the party can finally begin with fans in Las Vegas for real after the first game.
The Raiders won a thrilling and exhausting season opener, thanks to a fiery rally, a stellar defensive game from Carl Nassib and a perfect play call that produced a 31-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Zay Jones that helped the Raiders 33-27. Brought the victory to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
“It felt like I died and woke up. And died. And got up again,” said coach John Gruden. “I was like a cat – I had many lives.”
Carr made three game-tying drives in the fourth quarter before winning it in wild overtime.
He appeared to win with the first right of overtime with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Brian Edwards, only to halt the celebration when replays placed the ball over the 1-yard line.
A failed quarterback sneak, a false start from rookie Alex Leatherwood, and then an interception that went out of hand from Willie Snead cost the Raiders the game.
Luck then delivered Lamar Jackson’s strip sack in his first game after becoming the first active NFL player to come out as gay in the off-season.
“I am really happy that we won on the day a little bit of history was created,” Naseeb said.
The Raiders then made another mistake by delaying the game before the field-goal attempt, sending Gruden the offense back on the field.
The Ravens sent a blitz and Carr made a pass, under which Jones ran for the score, sending the Raiders out on the field for a second celebration in front of a fragile Allegiant Stadium crowd of 61,756.
“I’m glad the coach trusted us, put it in our hands at the end,” Carr said. “Because it’s always nice to win like this, especially when you’ve almost given up.”
Gruden won, in a way, slapping fans in the region at the southern end of the black hole.
The Raiders started 14–0 when the Raiders led at least 14 points in 2004, ending a 98-game, regular-season winning streak for the Ravens.
The loss capped a tough stretch for the Ravens, who injured cornerback Marcus Peters along with JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, the top three running backs for the season.
“We didn’t close the game when we had the opportunity to do it three or four times,” coach John Harbaugh said. “When you have a chance to win, that’s what you need to do, you have to win. We didn’t do that tonight.”
He won his last five season openers by a margin of 177-26, but he came short in this nail-biter thanks to a strong game from Carr, who threw for 435 yards.
Overtime came after a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter, in which the Raiders rallied to tie the score on three separate occasions, with Carr driving Las Vegas to a 55-yard field goal in the final 37 seconds.
The Ravens had taken the lead when Jackson ran for 28 yards to help set up Justin Tucker’s 47-yard field goal.
But Jackson is still haunted by two late blunders.
“It tickled me,” he said. “I hate business of any kind.”
The Raiders first found a forced fumble against Jackson by Quinton Jefferson setting up Josh Jacobs’ 15-yard touchdown run, which tied the score at 17. The Ravens responded when former raider Latvius Murray ran a play 8 yards after Jackson found Sammy. Watkins is mismatched for a 49-yard pass.
Carr added Henry Rugs III on a 37-yard pass, setting up a 10-yard touchdown to Darren Waller with 3:44 to play.
Jackson’s touchdown pass to Marquis Brown in the first half was a brilliant individual effort. He survived pressure from Max 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 data, Jackson took 7.84 seconds to throw — the fifth longest on a touchdown pass in the past five seasons — and covered 27 yards for his highest ever on a touchdown throw.
go for it
The Ravens went to fourth twice in the first half, receiving a 35-yard touchdown run from Tyson Williams in the first half. KJ Wright stuffed Murray on the second.
The Raiders were stopped in the third quarter by Jacobs on the fourth and a run at the Ravens 13.
The Raiders got off to a slow start to the offensive after most of their starters were seated in the preseason. A holding penalty and a botched snap spoiled a promising first drive that saw the Ravens reach 21 before going backward and ending in a punt.
The Raiders then punted on the next three drives, the first time in 15 years they punted on the first four drives of the season.
He then scored twice late in the half and tied at 14-10 at the break.
crows: Guard Tyre Phillips was taken off the field on a cart late in the first half after suffering a foot injury and did not return.
Attacker: Guard Denzel Good was out in the first half with a knee injury. … Nagakoue was ruled out due to a hamstring injury in the second half. …defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was dropped on a cart with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens hosted Kansas City on Sunday night. Baltimore has suffered four straight losses against the Chiefs, including all three matchups between Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. … The Raiders go to Pittsburgh on Sundays.