For the first time in 19 years, the Las Vegas Raiders have started the season 3-0. The Raiders are now the first team ever to open the season with wins against three teams that won 10 plus games the previous year. A very specific stat sure, but it adds context to just how well they have performed to start the season. Derek Carr came up clutch once again on Sunday, something you will be hearing a lot this season. Now let us dive into the specifics over the Raiders’ overtime win against the Miami Dolphins.
Derek Carr Comes up Clutch in Las Vegas Raiders Week 3 Win
The MVP chants for Derek Carr, though early, are not unwarranted through the first three weeks of the season. Now in his fourth year under Jon Gruden, it is clear that Carr has full command of the offense. Despite a rough start to the game, Carr was able to rebound and lead the team to 25 unanswered points. Clutch throws to Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs III in overtime helped the Raiders prevent a disastrous loss at home. Barring a miracle in Monday night’s game, Carr will still be the NFL’s leading passer going into next weekend.
The difference between this and last year’s Raiders defense is astronomical. Most of the credit goes to the new defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley, as it should. However, Casey Hayward deserves a lion’s share of the credit too. His tackle for a safety was the turning point of the game against Miami. At the time, the Raiders were down 14-0 with things looking dire. Regardless of your opinion of Miami’s play-calling, Hayward made the right read and singlehandedly shifted the momentum to the Raiders. He was PFF’s highest-graded corner through two weeks, and will likely still be near the top after this performance. Not enough can be said about the value, through both playmaking and leadership, that Hayward has brought to this team.
Peyton Barber Earns His Spot
Despite a rough start to the game, Peyton Barber made his presence felt against Miami. At the end of the first quarter, many fans on social media were clamoring for Gruden to bench him. These fans failed to recognize how ineffective the run-blocking was to open the game. Gruden did not waiver and showed confidence in Barber and his young offensive line. As the game went on, Barber began to find more and more room to run. He capped off his in-game resurgence with a pivotal, 27-yard run in overtime to set up the Raiders with the game-winning field goal. Barber finished with 111 yards rushing on the day and solidified himself as the backup to Josh Jacobs.
How can one not be excited about how the Raiders have played to start the season? This team is resilient and extremely well-coached. It may have taken Gruden a little bit, but Las Vegas is finally ready to compete for a division title. With Carr playing like a potential MVP candidate, and a new-look defense, the sky is the limit. They will have a tough test next week when they travel to their home away from home to battle the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football. It will be a tough test for this Raiders team, but what game has not been so far. It is time for people to admit they drastically undervalued the Raiders roster.
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