The Ravens and Raiders played a pulsating “Monday Night Football” game in Las Vegas to cap Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, with the Raiders winning 33-27 in overtime.
That’s the short way of describing one of the wildest finishes to an NFL game in recent memory: There was an entire game’s worth of twists and turns in just the final six-plus minutes of OT game action. Take the winning coach’s word for it:
“I felt like I had died and woke up, and died again,” Las Vegas’ Jon Gruden said. “I was like a cat; I had multiple lives tonight.”
Here’s SN’s attempt at capturing just how much of a roller-coaster overtime was:
Bryan Edwards’ would-be game winner
Las Vegas won the toss to start OT and received. Six plays later, it appeared it had won the game with a 33-yard touchdown connection between Derek Carr and Bryan Edwards. The call on the field was a touchdown, anyway.
Allegiant Stadium, open to fans for the first time, erupted. Players began shaking hands even while the scoring play was under review. Turns out their sportsmanship was premature. The review showed Edwards was down at the Ravens’ 1. There was no doubt about the reversal.
Game back on.
Derek Carr’s off-the-helmet interception
So Robinson was short, but the Raiders still needed just a yard to win. Carr was stuffed on a sneak, however, before rookie lineman Alex Leatherwood committed a false start. Vegas was now just outside Baltimore’s 5 facing second down.
That meant Carr had more space to throw, which is what he did. He missed Hunter Renfrow in the corner of the end zone on second down, but had Willie Snead breaking wide open over the middle on the ensuing play. Had Snead gotten his hands on the ball, he could have jogged into the end zone. But the ball went right through those hands.
It then clanked off the helmet of Ravens safety DeShon Elliott before landing in the arms of cornerback Anthony Averett for the improbable interception.
Game still on.
Carl Nassib’s strip sack of Lamar Jackson
The Ravens’ stint on offense didn’t last long; Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib got Las Vegas the ball back with a huge hustle play, rushing off the edge and strip-sacking Lamar Jackson on third down in Baltimore territory. Darius Philon recovered Jackson’s fumble at the Ravens’ 27.
Game still going.
Icing the kicker for the win
Kenyan Drake ran for a yard on the first play of Las Vegas’ ensuing drive before the Raiders decided to put the game on Daniel Carlson’s foot; he had already forced overtime by making a 55-yarder with two seconds left in regulation and was looking at a 44-yarder to win it. But Carlson was late getting onto the field, forcing Las Vegas to take a delay of game penalty since it was out of timeouts. The ball was set back to the Baltimore 31.
A 49-yarder was still well in Carlson’s range, but Gruden decided to put the offense back on the field on second-and-14. Peyton and Eli Manning figured on their ESPN2 megacast (with special guest Russell Wilson) that Gruden was pushing the reset button on a winning kick; run another play and then have Carlson come back out.
The decision to bypass Carlson worked better than anyone in silver and black could have imagined.
Game still going, and now even more bizarre.
Carr beats the blitz for the game winner
With Vegas already in field goal range, Baltimore went for broke to push the kick farther back or create another turnover. It went all 2020 Jets and sent the house against Carr.
Carr calmly dropped back and, from his back foot, lofted a long ball to a wide-open Zay Jones, who finished off the winning completion.
One reason Jones was all alone downfield: Ravens defensive back Marlon Humphrey got picked by a teammate in coverage. Another reason: Carr told ESPN the Raiders had the right play called for Baltimore’s zero blitz. This time, there was no doubt: The touchdown stood.