BALTIMORE – Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree put the Raiders up one point with two minutes remaining.
That marked tons of time for clutch Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco and kicker Justin Tucker.
The Raiders defense had to make it stand. It was the same unit that gave up 14 unanswered points midway through the fourth quarter and helped blow a two-score lead.
That unit did something similar last week against Tennessee, fighting the Titans off to win that game. They did it again on Sunday, turning a 28-27 lead into a secure victory over the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Raiders kept the Ravens out of field goal range, and forced a turnover on downs near midfield.
Safety Reggie Nelson keyed that effort with a thunderous hit on Kamar Aiken on fourth down that jarred the ball loose.
“I was just trying to make a play,” Nelson said. “I missed a tackle (earlier), and I knew I had a play to make up for it. I was reading Flacco, came across the middle and made the hit.”
The defensive effort was a real confidence builder, showing the Raiders defense can do its part and close a game out.
“There was really no pressure,” Raiders cornerback Sean Smith said. “We have a defense full of playmakers. We actually love those situations when the clock is ticking and they’re just trying to get a field goal to win. You might feel pressure on the outside, but for us, it’s just us doing our job. If you don’t love those situations, you can’t play on this defense.”
Going for it: Head coach Jack Del Rio went for it on 4th-and-1 on the Raiders’ first drive of the fourth quarter, a move that paid off handsomely. Derek Carr drew the Ravens offside, got a first down and subsequently scored a touchdown. Had he settled for a field goal there, the outcome might’ve been different.
“It’s not the first time we’ve done that,” said receiver Michael Crabtree, who caught one of his three touchdowns on that drive. “I’m not surprised at all. I have confidence in my team. We don’t blink at all.”
Injury update: Tight end Lee Smith suffered a potentially significant ankle injury against the Ravens. Del Rio didn’t provide an update, but he was carted off the sideline after getting hit low after making a reception. Malcolm Smith suffered a groin injury and did not return. Tight end Clive Walford had a leg injury, but Del Rio said he could’ve re-entered the game.
This ‘n’ that: The Raiders are 3-1 for the first time since 2002. ... Del Rio lauded the improved play from rookie middle linebacker Cory James, who led the Raiders with 15 tackles. …Cornerback DJ Hayden had another strong day, with several key open field tackles in important situations. … The Raiders lost their first fumble of the season with DeAndre Washington's lost possession midway through the fourth quarter. …The Raiders were outgained by the Ravens in this game, but found a way to win the game. … Jalen Richard had a 47-yard punt return that set up the Raiders’ opening score, a touchdown reception by Seth Roberts.