The Oakland Raiders took a page out of College Football Sunday and did what few NFL teams have the guts to do. Instead of tying the game and going for the overtime victory, head coach Jack Del Rio called a play only a former defensive player could make. It was their first game of the season, and he wanted to make a statement, not to the New Orleans Saints but his players, fans and rest of the NFL. The Raiders have arrived.
Derek Carr hit Michael Crabtree with a perfect fade pass for the win, but without Del Rio, it’s safe to say any other coach would’ve sent in their kicker for the tie. They are no longer the “I need you to feel sorry for me” Raiders. They expect to win and will do whatever it takes to make sure they and for everyone to know that.
Carr, in his second season, passed for 319 yards and one touchdown, but he wasn’t needed to carry the load. The offensive line did a wonderful job keeping their QB upright the entire game as no sacks were given up to their franchise player. Amari Cooper just gets better each game. He started the season strong with six receptions for 137 yards, while Crabtree caught 7 for 87. But the big factor was the ground game of the Raiders.
Latavius Murray rushed 14 times for 59 yards and a score, but it was the speed of Jalen Richard that provided a spark. The Raiders rushed the ball 26 times for 167 yards and three TDs against the worst run defense in the NFL last season. This is the type of balanced production that will help carry the Raiders back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
The defense had a rough day, but that is to be expected when facing one of the greatest QB’s to ever play in Drew Brees. Brees torched the Raiders secondary for 423 yards and four TDs. The defense held their rushing attack to 88 yards and no scores, but the secondary must regroup if the team is to make any noise this season.
The win was great. It’s always good to open a new year with a win, but the 2-point call may go down in Raiders lore and may very well set the stage for things to come in 2016.