New Orleans Saints vs. Oakland Raiders was less an NFL game and more a sandlot football game where nobody wanted to play defense. New Orleans had over 500 yards of offense and Oakland wasn’t far behind — but the real story was the end of the game.
With less than a minute left, the Raiders scored the touchdown that could deadlock the teams.
It was a nice pressure pass in a difficult situation and showed the poise Derek Carr proved all game. The real story happened after the touchdown when Carr and the offense stayed on the field. Down 34-33, the Raiders made the gutsiest call we might see all week — they decided to go for two.
The thinking behind going for it was clear: The Raiders hadn’t been able to stop New Orleans all game, and vice versa. If the game went to overtime chances were New Orleans would score — so the Raiders wanted to take the risk and put it on themselves. It worked.
Think that’s where the story ends? Oh no. After the two-point conversion a flag was thrown. Michael Crabtree, who just caught the critical two-point conversion pass, was flagged for a taunting penalty at the worst possible time.
Now you have a situation where your tenuous lead is hanging on your kicker to really nail the kickoff after being pushed backwards because of a boneheaded taunting penalty that never should have happened. Thankfully the squib kickoff was perfect — but the pressure was still on. If you’re keeping score, this is the third time in less than a minute the Raiders made a critical play.
Back-to-back Drew Brees completions pushed the ball towards midfield. All New Orleans needed was 10 yards to set up a deep but manageable field goal. For the FOURTH time in less than a minute, the Raiders stepped up, stopping Brees and the Saints to set up a 61-yard field goal attempt.
Wil Lutz stepped on the field in his first major NFL game, an undrafted free agent kicker facing a ridiculously long attempt.
Look how close he was, too. It was so close the line judge on the left doesn’t even want to make a call. He just lets his partner do it all. The Raiders went on to win, 35-34, in one of the most incredible games of Week 1.
After the game, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio scoffed at the idea that they shouldn’t have gone for two: