The Oakland Raiders entered training camp with a goal of reaching the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season, when they were defeated in Super Bowl XXXVII by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-21. Opening the season with a win is always a great way to begin any sort of playoff campaign, but the Raiders opened the season with a difficult road game against the New Orleans Saints.
Despite allowing 507 total yards and 419 passing to the Saints, the Raiders shockingly overcame a 24-10 third-quarter deficit to pick up a huge victory in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, 35-34. Quarterback Derek Carr completed 24-of-38 passes for 319 yards and one touchdown while the Oakland offensive line opened numerous holes in the running game to the tune of 167 yards on the ground.
— Marcus Allen (@MarcusAllenHOF) September 11, 2016
Down 34-27 following Drew Brees’ fourth touchdown pass of the game, the Oakland Raiders’ offense took the field with just under six minutes left in the game. Carr led the Raiders on an 11-play 75-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts with 47 seconds left.
Instead of tying the game with an extra point, Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio made the bold decision to send his offense back out for a two-point conversion. Carr ended up hitting Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end-zone to give the Raiders a 35-34 lead, which would hold up after a missed last-second 61-yard field goal attempt by Saints kicker Will Lutz.
Plenty of leg.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) September 11, 2016
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Oakland Raiders’ victory.
1. Offensive Line Was Excellent
Not only did the Raiders rush for 167 yards, but Carr was also not sacked once, and the Saints got zero pressure with their defensive line. It was an impressive performance from one of the best units in the league and could lead to bigger and better things down the road for the Raiders.
2. No Turnovers
Carr didn’t throw any interceptions, and the Raiders running backs didn’t put the ball on the ground once. It was a far cry from 2015, when the Raiders turned the ball over 24 times in 16 games. If the offense can continue to limit the turnovers, the Raiders will be tough to beat.
3. Secondary Got Burnt Repeatedly
The Raiders’ offense did a tremendous job on Sunday, but the defense got torched on a number of occasions by Brees, Willie Snead, Brandin Cooks, and the Saints’ offense. With the free agent signings of corner Sean Smith and safeties Nate Allen and Reggie Nelson, it was a disappointing performance from the secondary, which was expected to be much improved.
4. Defensive Line Only Recorded 1 Sack
With Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun, the Raiders were expected to have a decent pass rush coming into the 2016 season, but the unit only recorded one sack for four yards on Sunday. The lack of pass rush contributed considerably to the struggles of the secondary.
5. Jack Del Rio Believes In His Team
How many NFL coaches would’ve had the gall to go for a two-point conversion instead of kicking the extra point? Del Rio showed trust in his players to convert the two-point conversion, which should go a long way towards building a successful team.
It wasn’t perfect, but the Raiders pulled off an impressive road win against a difficult opponent which is all you can ask for. If the Oakland Raiders reach the playoffs this season, they will look back on this important win to begin the year.
[Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images]