Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib (94) forces a fumble by Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during overtime in an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO

The Baltimore Ravens came up short in their Monday Night Football season opener at Las Vegas in a game that ended with a crazy turn of events.

With the score even in overtime, quarterback Lamar Jackson was sacked and fumbled the ball, giving the Las Vegas Raiders the possession they needed. On the next drive, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr found an open Zay Jones for a 31-yard touchdown to give them the home win, 33-27, over the Ravens on Monday night.

The tough loss was the Ravens’ first defeat in the season opener in six seasons.

“The whole team, I was very, very happy with the team’s effort. The toughness, the resiliency, fighting back,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said.

“We just didn’t close the game out when we had the opportunity to do it, three or four times. You know, that is what you need to do. When you have an opportunity to win, you got to go win it, and we just didn’t do it tonight.”

Before the game-winning play, the Raiders were at the 1-yard line and failed to score on a quarterback sneak, was penalized with a false start and threw an interception to Baltimore’s Anthony Averett. But the team’s relentlessness on the Ravens’ next drive was a reflection of the defensive pressure they used to get back in the game, which clearly paid off.

Though the Ravens (0-1) held their opponent scoreless in the third and led by a touchdown entering the fourth, the Raiders’ found their offensive footing to outscore Baltimore 17-10 before forcing overtime, tying the game 27-27 at the end of regulation. 

On the other hand, while Baltimore showed glimpses of promise when it fired on all cylinders, the club failed to capitalize in the game’s most critical moments. If anything, the season-opening loss was a learning experience for Jackson, now a fourth-year player and third-year starter, and his supporting cast.

Jackson was sacked three times and the Raiders defense totaled seven quarterback hits on him, raising concern among pundits about the performance of the offensive line, consisting of left tackle Ronnie Stanley, left guard Tyre Phillips (who went down with a knee injury), center Bradley Bozeman, right guard Kevin Zeitler and right tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

“It’s regular season. For any game we got to move on quick. Everybody hates losing,” said Jackson, now a fourth-year player and a third-year starter.

“But it’s going to be a quick turnaround though. You know, we got the Chiefs Sunday. We just played Monday Night, so we got to get ready.”

Baltimore has a tough week ahead as it will try to bounce back with a victory in Week 2 when they face one of the toughest opponents this season in the reigning AFC champion Kansas Chiefs, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 19.

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