Most NFL fans had already gotten to watch their teams battle another team in a contest that actually counted by Monday September 13th. Ravens fans were not one of them. The extra day of anticipation can feel miniscule. But when there’s as long a drought of football as there is with the NFL offseason, even one day makes a huge difference.
The Ravens were opening up their campaign on Monday Night Football against the now Las Vegas Raiders. It was the first time that fans were allowed to attend a football game at Allegiant Stadium in Vegas. Unfortunately for the Ravens faithful that made the trip out west, they were rewarded with a loss. A great game but a loss.
This game felt so strange. Like something you’ve never seen before. The whole world had assumed the game was over when Raiders WR Bryan Edwards had caught a ball from Derek Carr and looked to be in the end zone in overtime. Replays showed he was actually down within inches off the goal line. The subsequent play led to QB Derek Carr getting stuffed, and a 2nd down false start made things worse for the Raiders. Still, a TD or at the very least a field goal seemed extremely likely for the silver and black. However, a wild sequence led to a Derek Carr interception when the ball bounced off a Ravens defender’s helmet.
The Ravens were suddenly alive. Until they weren’t. Fourth year superstar Lamar Jackson was looking to show the world he was ready to take the Ravens offense to another level with an overtime win. Instead, the Ravens’ porous offensive line led to a sack-fumble from Jackson. The Raiders scored shortly thereafter. This will still go down as one of the craziest Monday Night Games ever. It was a great game objectively. Subjectively for Ravens fans, it’s one that will haunt their nightmares.
Now the NFL social media world is quick to overreact, so you’ll see all these doom and gloom posts about the Ravens chances. Let’s lay out a fact here. This is the longest season in NFL history with 17 games. So even after a week 1 loss, the Ravens have a full seasons worth of games to right the ship.
The offensive line could be a serious problem all year, with veterans underperforming and an injury to one of their starters adding to their mounting number of players in IR. The Ravens had already lost their top-3 tailbacks before the season opener. And have a number of WRs on IR but will be eligible to return this season.
It’s also possible that the Raiders are much better than given credit for. We know Derek Carr has quietly had a nice career for himself, and the Raiders have loaded their offense with weapons through the draft and acquisition of elite tight end Darren Waller. On defense, DE Maxx Crosby looks ready to take over as the clear-cut leader and had a JJ Watt-like impact on last night’s game.
With all of that being said, the Ravens, and particularly Lamar Jackson showed heart and a resolve not to quit even when the situation seemed dire. Even though the end result wasn’t in their favor, there’s enough reason to not hit the panic button. They will have their hands full with the Kansas City Chiefs rolling into Baltimore next weekend, but the schedule softens up after that. The O-Line will gel over time, and receivers will be back in the line-up. The running game was promising, and Harbaugh and GM Eric DeCosta know how to make in-season adjustments. So if you’re ready to jump off ship, maybe you should. Because real fans know that one week one loss doesn’t define a season.