Wow. Can you think of a more fun way to end an already spectacular opening week of NFL action?
With no better backdrop than the 'Entertainment Capital of the World,' Monday night featured a matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders in front of Vegas' first NFL full house! The game started slow but ultimately delivered.
Welcome back, football!
Although neither team could score on their first possession, the opening quarter was dominated by Baltimore. The Ravens defensive unit did well to keep QB Derek Carr confused and TE Darren Waller blanketed.
On Baltimore’s second possession, QB Lamar Jackson was able to get into a groove, extending plays how no one else can, and finding the open man. Marching the Ravens down field, Jackson handed off to newly acquired RB Ty’Son Williams who dashed 35 yards to the end zone for the game’s first score. 7-0 Baltimore.
The Raiders, in front of their first full house at Allegiant Stadium, did not respond right away. With Carr missing seven passes in a row at one point, the Ravens would have no trouble getting the ball back. Now, into the second quarter, Jackson would once again march the Raven offense downfield, this time, finding Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in the back corner for a 10-yard touchdown toss. 14-0 Ravens.
That’s apparently what it takes to wake up the Raiders. Carr and the offense would respond with a lengthy drive of their own. Landing on the BAL 1-yd line after a penalized tug of Hunter Renfrow’s jersey (easy call), RB Josh Jacobs would subsequently punch it in for the first Las Vegas touchdown of the season. 14-7 Ravens.
Baltimore followed up the Raider score with a turnover on downs near midfield, leaving Las Vegas just enough time to get into field goal range before halftime. K Daniel Carlson would hit his mark, netting a field goal for Las Vegas as the second quarter clock expired. 14-10 Baltimore at the break.
Coming back out of the locker room, both offenses again looked flat (much like the opening possessions.) Baltimore took a three-and-out and Las Vegas then proceeded to back themselves up to their own goal line with penalties, which after a Raider punt, the Ravens managed to turn into a Justin Tucker 3-pointer. 17-10 Baltimore.
The next drive for the Raiders would be another strange one. After getting started with a sizable pass interference (this one more questionable) penalty once again, Las Vegas moved the ball deep into Baltimore territory by picking up a couple more first downs a la Waller (who has had two key drops by this point, but has found a rhythm). The drive stalled well inside Carlson’s field goal range, but coach Gruden decided to go for it on 4th & short rather than taking the points. A questionable decision, the Raiders would be thwarted by all 6’8”, 300-lbs of Calais Campbell, as he met the shotgun halfback Jacobs behind the line of scrimmage for a turnover on downs.
Then, the game picked up speed. Or the fourth quarter started. Should be the same thing, right?
We all know how dangerous Lamar Jackson is in the open field. However, on this scramble attempt, it was to his own team that he posed danger, as he took a hit by two Raiders, coughing up the football. Las Vegas now has the ball and the momentum (and the game’s first turnover). Carr and the Raiders are sure to take advantage, driving down, and scoring on another Jacobs touchdown run. 17-17.
Lamar Jackson is a former MVP, though. No sweat. He takes Baltimore down, drops a dime to WR Sammy Watkins to move into enemy territory, and gets former-Raider Latavius Murray a touchdown run of his own. 24-17 Baltimore.
Now, Vegas’ turn. Carr stays calm and moves the Raiders down field by finding WR Henry Ruggs III, then hitting Waller for a ten-yard touchdown (Waller has eclipsed the 100-yd receiving mark by this point). 24-24; tied again with 3:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Baltimore takes care of business and gets J.T. into field goal range, boom, kick is good, 27-24 (sending OVER 50.5 supporters into bliss) Ravens with 00:37 left in regulation. Without any timeouts, it was all on Carr to at least get the Raiders into FG range. He did just that, hitting two chunk passes over the middle, and getting it clocked for Carlson, who came through on his end from 55-yards! FG good! 27-27 with 00:03 left in regulation!
Ok then, a little MNF overtime is what it will have to be. What a week of football!
OT would not disappoint.
With Las Vegas winning the coin toss in front of their first home crowd, you could feel the energy in the building reach critical mass. The Raiders had no trouble cruising down field on Baltimore, and after flashes from WR Bryan Edwards, found themselves on the 1-yd line, and the cusp of victory (after a premature celebration). Unfortunately for Raider-nation, the game was far from over.
After a couple botched plays and a false start from rookie RT Alex Leatherwood, a tipped Carr pass would fall into the hands of cornerback Anthony Averett for a Baltimore interception and touchback! Unbelievable.
Now, it’s the Ravens with the ball and the momentum. However, what would ensue next has been somewhat of a recurring theme for Lamar Jackson. No one likes a broken record, but as electric an athlete as he is, he has had some issues with ball security. Having lost one fumble in this contest already (and having fumbled 34 times over 38 games started in his career), Jackson would lose another after Raiders DE Carl Nassib came crashing in on him. Raiders get it right back.
And like Jackson’s last fumble, the Raiders were able to turn it into a score: the winning score. WR Zay Jones beat CB Marlon Humphrey on a post-route for a 31-yd touchdown that Carr doesn’t miss. Allegiant Stadium turns to pandemonium. Raiders win 33-27.
This game featured a little bit of everything: big plays, gritty plays, clutch kicks, forced turnovers, costly mistakes, long runs and more. Ultimately, it is hard to not focus on Lamar Jackson's two lost fumbles that were turned into 13 Raider points (incl. the winning score). If not for those, then the story of the night may be Jon Gruden's questionable decision to go for it rather than kicking a FG, which lead to Calais Campbell stopping Josh Jacobs on 4th & short. But the Las Vegas defensive line played brilliantly down the stretch, using active hands and relentless pursuit.
Along with the Raiders, the real winners of the night were Las Vegas ML (+175) bettors. With injuries surmounting for Baltimore, WynnBET saw a recent increase of Raider support for this game. Raiders +4 bettors also cashed in here along with OVER 50.5 backers, as well anyone who had RB Ty'Son Williams for the game's first touchdown score. Lamar Jackson tossed the game's first touchdown pass (to Marquise Brown), RB Josh Jacobs rushed for two touchdowns of his own, and BAL RB Latavius Murray also got one. TE Darren Waller had a day after his slow start: 10 receptions for 105 yards and a TD. Derek Carr threw for a plentiful 435 yards, here: good enough for the top mark in the NFL this week. WR Zay Jones caught the walk off touchdown with 03:38 left in OT. Both kickers (Tucker & Carlson) were perfect, going two-for-two on FGs with Carlson hitting the long of the night: a 55-yd beauty to tie the game at the end of regulation.
Folks, fans, and WynnBET players: we are in store for a wonderous football season! Get in the game and bet with the best!