The Raiders had a difficult situation late in the fourth quarter. Holding onto a seven-point lead, the team faced a 4th and 10 from the Saints 36-yard line with 65 seconds left on the clock.
In most cases, teams would punt the ball back to the Saints, who had no time-outs left. Hoping to pin them inside their own-10 yard line, coaches would hope that their defense could prevent them from getting into the end zone.
But that’s not the decision Jon Gruden made. Instead of leaving the game up to his defense, he put his faith in the leg of his place kicker. Daniel Carlson stepped onto the field to kick what would be a potential game-clinching field goal from 54 yards out. And not only did he make the kick, he put it right down the middle of the goalposts with plenty of distance to spare.
It was an aggressive call by Gruden, but it proved to be the right one. Instead of hoping not to lose the game on the next possession, he decided to win it right there. Here is Gruden explaining the logic behind kicking the field goal after the game:
“I saw [Harrison] Butker for the Chiefs get three in a row yesterday, so I had a good vibe. I said if Kansas City is going to kick a field goal in that situation I sure will. [Daniel] Carlson had a big one in Charlotte last week about the same distance. You know we’re playing in a beautiful stadium the footing is great, the weather is great there’s no wind and he had the look in his eye like he was going to end a football game and that’s what we did. I’m really happy for him and Rich Bisaccia for having the confidence and ability to do that.”
With the Raiders no longer playing on a dirt infield and no longer having to worry about wind, kickers should have a ton of success in the new Allegiant Stadium. Gruden is also going to be aggressive and against a team with Sean Payton and Drew Brees on the other side, he didn’t want to leave the game in their hands.
It was the first big gamble Gruden has taken in Las Vegas and it proved to be the right one. It gave the Raiders their second win of the season and it was arguably Gruden’s best win since his return to the Silver and Black.
Fortune favors the bold, it appears.
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