4:39 left remained in the overtime game between the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders on the first Monday Night football game of 2021. Defensive end Carl Nassib had just stripped Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson of the pigskin at the Ravens 27-yard line--where it was recovered by Raider Darius Philon.
Play of the Game.
However, that was not the vision that will remain in this fan's mind. The camera went to the Raider sideline, where Raider QB Derek Carr sat next to Tight End Darren Waller. When the fumble recovery occurred, both players stood up--and they hugged. A quarterback and a tight end sitting next to each other was odd enough, but hugging when the football was still 27 yards away from paydirt? That was a strange--and comforting--thing to see.
Raider brothers in arms.
Raider fans know that success has many brothers, and there are too many names now basking in the klieg lights to list after the heart-thumping 33 - 27 overtime-victory versus the Baltimore Ravens at Allegiant Stadium. Let's name a few impact players from the game-one victory (Willie Snead IV will not be included here);
Johnathan Abram: 10 tackles. Last season, this assassin took out as many Raider players as opponents. His nickname should have been Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. It was good to see him play a solid game against the Ravens.
Denzel Perryman: 10 tackles. Raiders got this guy for a 2022 seventh-round pick? That is a steal.
Bryan Edwards: 4 receptions, 81 yards. Raider fans will not forget that Edwards gained 38 yards on two catches with under 37 seconds left in regulation to enable the tying 55-yard field goal. And we remember the excellent adjustment by the 6'3" South Carolinian in overtime that resulted in the electric 32-yard reception along the right sideline to the one-yard line.
Henry Ruggs III: 3rd-down-and-10 at the Baltimore 47 yard line, 4:06 on the regulation clock and Baltimore leading 24 - 17. Under pressure, Derek Carr lofted a dirigible-arc downfield that floated in the air as long as Raider fans could hold their breath. When the football descended, there was Henry Ruggs running down a long-awaited promise for a 37-yard gain.
A.J. Cole: 6 punts, 52.7 average. Does anybody remember that the snap was high on a point-after try late in regulation? A missed PAT would have doomed Raider hopes for victory, but Cole snatched the errant ball and brought it down for Daniel Carlson's accurate toe.
Daniel Carlson: A 55-yard field goal to send an opening-day game into overtime is a huge kick in the hopes of Raider good fortune.
How long will Raider good fortune last in 2021? Everybody always says to live in the present, so 1 - 0 has to be good enough. Don't blink: only days remain before the flight to Pittsburgh to face a formidable Steelers' defense that held the vaunted Buffalo Bills to a flaccid 16 points last week. Raider fans remember what John Madden said so many decades ago: Nothing brings a team together like winning. For now, Raider fans can bask in the moment of a hard-fought team win and hope that the Las Vegas Raiders team will leave Heinz Field as they arrived.
Raider brothers in arms.
Author, Football’s Blackest Hole