The Oakland Raiders' rumored move to Las Vegas isn't reality yet
, but on Sunday coach Jack Del Rio let it ride with the game on the line — and his team delivered.
The Raiders trailed the New Orleans Saints 33-34 with 47 seconds remaining. They'd just scored a touchdown. The extra point would've tied it. The odds? Kick the extra point, go into overtime, at least according to ESPN:
But Del Rio, with his team on the road, made the audacious call to go for a two-point conversion. If the team failed, they'd surely be calling him an idiot.
Del Rio hit the jackpot.
The call was for WR Michael Crabtree on an out route, and QB Derek Carr put the ball where only Crabs could wrap it up, which he did, and the Raiders won for the first time on opening day in five years, 35-34.
But this is the Raiders we're talking about, so of course the team nearly blew it after this incredible moment.
Ill-advisedly, Crabtree celebrated by launching the football into the sky, and quickly was penalized after his game-winning snatch. This set up the Saints with a 61-yard field-goal attempt for the win. The boot actually had the distance, but it was wide left.
After the game, Del Rio threw shade at ESPN for questioning his decision to go for two on Twitter:
At one point in the game, the Raiders trailed 24-10. But Carr and Co. racked up 22 points in the fourth to squeeze out the win, including two clutch two-point conversations in that final quarter.
Highlights of the game included a sack by Bruce Irvin in the first quarter, which caused Saints QB Drew Brees to cough up the rock. This lead to the first points of the game, and the Raiders went up 3-0.
The top play for the Raiders was a 75-yard touchdown sprint by Jalen Richard, which along with a two-point conversation connection of Carr to Amari Cooper tied up the game.
Low moments included the repeated brutalization of the Silver and Black secondary by Brees and his receiving corps. From Reggie Nelson's missed tackle of Willie Snead in the second quarter to DJ Hayden looking like, well, DJ Hayden, it was a painful day. Brees threw for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.
The face-palm moment came when Sean Smith got torched by Brandin Cooks for a record-setting 98 yard TD sprint. Ouch.
Ultimately, though, it was an impressive W for Raider Nation. The team could've easily gave up after falling behind on the road and having zero answer for Brees' offense. But the guys kept grinding.
Sure, there were all sorts of boneheaded penalties, in particular the various pass-interference calls. And this is not to mention the numerous occasions where the team appeared undisciplined or confused — including a coaching staff that appeared to lack control over players.
That said, I keep going back to the dive Carr made for a first down in the first half. It's that kind of gritty determination that has me thinking this year's squad is different. We'll find out more next week for the home home opener.
Watch the game's highlights here