Daniel Carlson is so clutch and money that it’s time to take away the moniker bestowed upon Daniel Jones. The true “Danny Dimes” wears No. 2 for the Las Vegas Raiders.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Auburn product is simply Captain Clutch. With everyone sweating profusely and on the edge of their seats during a 32-all stalemate between the Raiders and visiting Los Angeles Chargers Sunday night, it was Carlson who was ice cold, calm and collected. The Raiders place kicker drilled the game-winning 47-yard field goal — his biggest dime of the 2021 regular season — through the uprights for the 35-32 victory to punch Las Vegas playoff ticket and send Allegiant Stadium into pure pandemonium.
The dimes coming off Carlson’s right foot are far superior to the pennies coming off Jones — the New York Giants quarterback’s — right arm. Carlson’s leg not only delivered Las Vegas win after win this year, it booted the Raiders into the postseason and kicked the Chargers square in the ass Sunday night. And the big-time kicker was simply as calm as can be when called upon.
“I’m pretty even keel. I think personality-wise, that’s kind of me and the experiences helped for sure of getting more and more of these,” noted Carlson during the postgame press conference, as he’s been called routinely to win games for the Raiders. “For me, it’s just doing the same thing whether I’m in practice — any other kick in that game was just as important. The first four was just as important as that last one. ... It’s definitely something I’ve tried to get a little more used to.
“That’s what makes it so fun though, especially as a kicker. Not that our job gets boring, but the butterflies, the adrenaline, those big kicks – that’s what makes it exciting.”
The dagger of a game-winner was the fifth of his 5-for-5 performance in an absolute thriller of the NFL regular-season finale. Carlson accounted for 17 of the Raiders 35 points against the Bolts and his performance was so brilliant, NBC’s Al Michaels kept reminding the viewers the kicker hasn’t missed in Allegiant — perhaps jinxing the kicker. But Carlson wasn’t hearing any of that noise and put the cherry on top of an instant classic. (Legit, if NFL Films hasn’t archived that game, what are they waiting for?).
On the season, Carlson was a pristine 9-for-9 on lead-changing boots in crunch time (less than two minutes to go in regulation or overtime). That’s tops in NFL history. For the entirety of the 2021 regular season, Carlson made 40 of 43 field goals (93 percent). A pure sniper, as Raiders teammates have called him.
No wonder he treats all boots the same.
To hear Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia tell it, Carlson’s big moment may not have happened. It appeared there, even though it was momentarily, Las Vegas was content to let time run out on their final possession and leave the game in a 32-all tie.
“We were talking about (the tie possibility),” Bisaccia said in the postgame presser. “We ran the ball there and they didn’t call a timeout. So, I think that they were probably thinking the same thing. Then we had the big run through there and when we got the big run and we got into what we thought was advantageous field goal position for us, we were going to take the field goal to win it.”
Mixed in between Raiders running back Josh Jacobs big run for the first down that put Vegas in Carlson’s range, was a timeout called by Chargers head honcho Brandon Staley which left many scratching their heads.
“We needed to get in the right grouping,” Staley said in his postgame presser. “We felt like they were going to run the ball, so we wanted to get our best 11 personnel run defense in, make that substitution so we could get a play where we would deepen the field goal.”
That timeout and substitution backfired big time for L.A. as Jacobs tore through the the Bolts’ alignment like a hot knife through butter. All told, the Raiders tailback galloped for 69 yards on seven overtime carries.
“When the four-minute came before overtime, I told them ‘I’m the closer. That’s what y’all brought me here for. Let me close.’,” said Jacobs. “And when we got the opportunity and they tied the game and we went to overtime, I looked at Oly (Greg Olson) and I said ‘It’s time’ and we collectively came together – the offensive line, DC (Derek Carr), everybody – and just made it happen.”
From Carlson, Jacobs, the entire Raiders offense and defense, and coaching staff, everybody got it done. And that deserves supreme kudos.
“It reminds me a lot of our 2016 National Championship team at Clemson,” Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow said, who caught just four passes for 13 yards but two touchdowns Sunday night. “We won like seven games by a touchdown or less. You get used to winning. You get used to winning the close games. I think that came in play tonight and its good for the young guys on the team to be able to experience it. And as we go on the rest of this year and next year and the year after, we’ve got a program of winning.
“I think the adversity we’ve been through has definitely made us tighter.”