The Las Vegas Raiders overcame the Baltimore Ravens in a wild Monday night overtime victory. Here are the studs and duds from the primetime thriller.
The Las Vegas Raiders don’t seem to play normal games in primetime as all of their late games last year were absolute thrillers. They didn’t always end the way Raider Nation would have hoped but they were all exciting down to the final seconds. This year is no different so far as the Raiders outlasted the Ravens in an insane game that featured big plays, crazy turnovers, huge kicks, and more.
Let’s revisit that primetime thriller and cover the studs and duds from the Raiders’ first win of the season.
Las Vegas Raiders: Studs and Duds from Week 1 vs. Ravens
1. Jon Gruden’s decision making
It may seem unfair to list Jon Gruden and his decision-making as a dud after this win but had the Ravens pulled out the victory then he would be getting much of the blame. The first issue was Gruden’s play call on 4th and short when the Raiders were trailing 17-10 late in the third quarter.
Last season, Gruden was often accused of being too conservative in the red zone and kicking field goals when he should have gone for touchdowns. In this situation with the Raiders down seven, taking the points would have been fine but the aggression in chasing the touchdown was the right call.
Unfortunately, the play call was lacking as the Raiders ran right into the teeth of the Baltimore defense out of a shotgun formation.
The run game was mostly nonexistent and center Andre James struggled with run blocking the Baltimore front all night, especially DT Calais Campbell. So instead of lining up in the I-Formation or bringing in Marcus Mariota for another misdirection play, Gruden called a simple inside zone run that got blown up in the backfield by Campbell.
The Raiders struggled in short-yardage situations last year and that has continued so far in 2021.
The other mistake by Gruden that ended up working out was the possession after Carl Nassib’s strip-sack of Lamar Jackson that saved the game for Las Vegas. Gruden couldn’t make his mind up about running another play or kicking a field goal and it caused plenty of confusion for fans and players alike.
After a 1-yard run on first down from the Baltimore 27, Gruden took too long to send in his kicking unit and with no timeouts left, was forced to take a delay of game penalty. Even if there was no penalty, it still would’ve been a 43-yard field goal attempt which is very makeable for a good kicker but not a chip shot.
The coach seemed to be overwhelmed by the moment but he has to do a better job of preparing his team for that situation. Gruden is lucky the Raiders pulled out the victory or he would be catching some real heat for his management of these two key situations.