Updated September 13, 2021 - 9:40 pm
Three takeaways from the Raiders’ 33-27 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night at Allegiant Stadium:
1. Great atmosphere
This was the night Raiders fans have been waiting for, and they packed the stadium with a crowd that included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
It was the first Raiders regular-season game played before fans at Allegiant, and there was a playoff atmosphere. Fans were not allowed inside the building last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The game produced plenty of drama, going all the way down to the end of regulation, with Baltimore’s Justin Tucker making a 47-yard field goal and the Raiders’ Daniel Carlson a 55-yarder in the final minute to force overtime.
That was just the beginning, with the Raiders having a victory wrapped, then giving it away before finding a way to win in the end. It was just what owner Mark Davis envisioned when he moved his team to Southern Nevada last year.
He had to wait a year to watch his dream come to life.
It did just in that Monday night in a truly historic evening for Las Vegas.
2. Young receivers deliver
Darren Waller was, as usual, the Raiders’ top target, getting 19 passes thrown his way. He mostly delivered, finishing with 10 receptions for 105 yards and a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown.
But there were no questions about what Waller would accomplish.
Those were reserved for Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, who were drafted last year, Ruggs in the first round and Edwards in the third. Both are coming off disappointing seasons, but put together a strong training camp, creating hopes they would step up.
It took some time, but they did late.
Edwards caught a 31-yard pass that nearly gave the Raiders the victory in overtime, setting them up at the Ravens’ 1-yard line. He finished with four receptions for 81 yards, all of that in the second half with the game on the line.
Ruggs caught just two passes for 46 yards, but both were on the drive that set up Waller’s touchdown. One was a 37-yarder to the Ravens’ 10.
The Raiders need that kind of production on a more regular basis, but this was certainly a good start.
3. Defensive line produces
One of the major questions entering this season was whether the Raiders’ rebuilt defense, led by new coordinator Gus Bradley, would truly be improved.
Up front, that certainly appears to be the case, as long as the linemen can stay healthy.
Even without blitzing much, the Raiders consistently pressured Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Ends Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue, the latter the team’s top big-name offseason acquisition, were especially effective getting into the Ravens’ backfield.
On three plays on Baltimore’s first offensive possession alone, Crosby fought off a block to tackle Jackson as he was trying to make a move, pressured the quarterback and sacked him. He finished with two sacks and five quarterback hits.
The Raiders, though, lost Ngakoue to a hamstring injury, and his absence was noticeable as the Ravens drove late to take the lead. Tackle Gerald McCoy was carted off on that same drive with a knee injury.
Jackson had a lot more room to run after that, but others came through when needed.
End Carl Nassib’s strip sack of Jackson in overtime was recovered by tackle Darius Philon to set up the winning touchdown.