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Derek Carr relies on Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones when it counts

Big connections fuel Raiders’ win over Baltimore

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders
Raiders win
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For most of Monday night’s season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, the Las Vegas Raiders’ wide receivers were underwhelming.

Peyton Manning was complaining about their lack of impact on the Manning brothers’ alternative broadcast (which you can stream on ESPN+) and it was a topic on the main ESPN broadcast, as well. Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr was relying on his top target, tight end Darren Waller, from the start of the game and Waller ended up being targeted 19 times.

But make no mistake, the Raiders would have not won (in a 33-27 overtime thriller) if it weren’t for the production of Carr’s wide outs when it counted.

Bryan Edwards, Zay Jones, Hunter Renfrow and Henry Ruggs III all made key catches.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Las Vegas Raiders
TOUCHDOWN ZAY
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, Jones and Edwards stood out. Jones was wide open on the game-winning touchdown in overtime and Edwards came through with three big catches late in regulation and in overtime.

After the game, Carr was effusive in his praise of both Jones and Edwards.

Carr on Jones:

“Zay is my brother, that’s family. I said it over and over again, it’s hard to throw at the schedule that I want to throw at because I got four kids. I’m trying to be home and be a dad too in the offseason. I have him get up early, I say it’s to beat the heat, but it’s really cause I need them to get going so I can go hang with my children and my wife in the offseason, but he’s there every time. He’s never missed one since he got here. And things happen, it doesn’t matter, he’s always there. He’s always been there for me.

“When I needed him the most, he was there for me. Regardless if he caught that ball or even went on that route, he’s family to me. But the fact that he did, I just get to celebrate him. I get to celebrate his success. He had a rough time in Buffalo, and he found home here. I hope he finds home here for a long time because I love that guy so much. The fans, it’s a beautiful atmosphere, I think.

“Those of you who have done any Knights games, you really felt that college type atmosphere. It was very home field advantage. You felt the homefield advantage. This crowd here, same thing. Las Vegas, I tip my hat to you, you guys showed up. You guys were quiet enough for offense, but when our defense was up, it’s one of the loudest places I’ve ever been in. Especially enclosed like that, it’s up there. I would like to see the numbers on that, but it got really loud. Las Vegas, they did their thing, and helped us pulled that win. They were so loud, it’s so hard to communicate. If one person doesn’t get, which we had a lot of, a check or something, because we do a lot, I’m checking a lot, I’m doing a lot of things in Gruden’s offense, if we miss one thing, the play is not going to work. If the crowd can help us do that for our defense, it’s going to help us win football games.”

Carr on Edwards:

“I just always trust him, you know. Saw the coverage they were playing on him. Had to buy some time, actually a couple times. Really learned a lot, on the film, from a couple teams that were playing against him. Just buying time in the pocket. You know sometimes they bring blitz into it. You wonder if they have 13 guys out there. How do you do that and cover all these guys. You know, I’m not serious, hopefully no one writes that, right.

“But you know, you have to buy time sometimes, even if they’re on blocks. And I’ve tried working on that, because earlier in my career if a play wasn’t there, someone came free, my initial reaction was try throw it away. Don’t get a sack.

“Now the game just evolved. I can buy time and find guys, and I still keep my arm in it. And that something Coach Gruden has pushed me, and Oly [offensive coordinator Greg Olson] has pushed me at getting better at. John Morton has literally pushed me. So to have that trust in him late, I know it meant a lot to him. Because anytime, EB [wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett] talks about it, anytime a quarterback makes any type of decision, I tell him, I got my four kids to think about every time I let that ball go. So I’m going to need you guys to win and he definitely did.”

If this group can continue to come through in the clutch, the Las Vegas offense has a chance to be special in 2021.