Jon Gruden made Raiders’ first win in Vegas a gamble in the best way

Jon Gruden, Las Vegas Raiders. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Jon Gruden, Las Vegas Raiders. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders are a match made in gambling heaven.

Jon Gruden rolled the dice late on Monday Night Football and the Las Vegas Raiders won.

The Silver and Black were down by 10 points to start the game to the juggernaut New Orleans Saints. Everybody and their brother thought New Orleans was going to spoil the Raiders’ first game in Las Vegas in front of an empty stadium. But through offensive perseverance and a few rolls of the dice, everything came up aces for the Raiders, especially on this 54-yard field goal.

This may be the best Raiders team since the 2016 team who also rolled the dice.

It was four years ago against this same Saints franchise where the Silver and Black began their quest to end a 14-year playoff drought. Former head coach Jack Del Rio had the stones to go for two and win the game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Derek Carr and the Raiders won by a single point in New Orleans, catapulting them to an improbable 12-4 regular-season record.

Carr was a near-MVP candidate that season before he broke his ankle in Christmas Eve and everything went to hell in a hand basket. Del Rio was fired after a frustrating 2017 season. Gruden was hired out of the Monday Night Football booth in January 2018. Three years later, the Raiders are on their way back, baby. At 2-0, they’re tied for the best record in football with a lot of teams.

Admittedly, the Raiders aren’t quite Super Bowl-caliber. Just getting into the postseason would be a huge accomplishment for this bunch. With the AFC wide open and an additional playoff spot readily available, why can’t the Raiders be a top-seven team in their conference? The offense is multi-faceted, the pass rush is promising and the special teams were the good kind of special.

The Raiders could have ran out all the clock before punting on fourth down in that situation. If they wanted to ensure that they’d pin the Saints deep in their own territory with about a minute left on the clock, they could have taken a delay of game to do so. It’s the conservative approach to winning a nail-biter of a game, but Gruden went all in. Nobody called because he wasn’t bluffing.

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By trusting his kicker Daniel Carlson to make the clutch kick to put the nail in the Saints’ coffin, this gives the Silver and Black a huge boost heading into Week 3 matchup at the New England Patriots. Had they not win at home, few would have thought they’d have a shot at beating Cam Newton and the Evil Empire in their place. Now, all we want is to see them roll the dice again.

It’s super early in their young marriage, but the Raiders and Las Vegas are perfect for each other.