Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree
On the road in a hostile environment, and down by seven with just over 6:00 left in the game, quarterback Derek Carr knew that the Oakland Raiders offense had to score a touchdown, but he also knew that if the team did indeed find the end zone, they wouldn't play for the tie; instead they would attempt a two-point conversion to take the lead and potentially win the game.
"[Head] Coach [Jack] Del Rio came up to me and said, 'hey, we're going to score, and we're going to go for two,' and I said, 'okay," explained Carr postgame. "As soon as we scored, I jogged down there, and said, 'hey man, we're going for two, huddle up,' and everyone was like, 'okay, no problem.' It's that kind of belief, and that kind of trust that Coach has in us, that gives us so much confidence."
Guard Gabe Jackson was in the huddle as Carr relayed the play to the offense, and while the game would be decided in the coming moments, Jackson didn't see a change in demeanor from the starting quarterback.
"He didn't make a big deal out of it," Jackson said. "But we all know the urgency of it, so he doesn't have to do that."
And in those moments, with the game on the line, the offense executed to perfection, as Carr threw a fade route to Michael Crabtree who secured the pass, as well as the first win of the 2016 regular season for the Silver and Black.
"On that last play, I mean, we practice that so much it becomes routine," Crabtree said. "He [Carr] gave me a great ball there, and he did that the entire game. That shows he trusts me. And it wasn't a gutsy call at all, not at all. He [Del Rio] has a lot of trust in us, and we have a lot of trust in him. I mean when you put in so much work in camp, and in the preseason, I feel like all we have to do as players is execute."
While Crabtree may not have thought the call was gusty, in the hours following the game, Del Rio's decision has become one of the more talked about aspects of Week 1 across the NFL.
From those who believe that it was the right call, to the pundits who still think the team should have played it safe and gone for the tie, seemingly everyone has an opinion on the topic.
Del Rio himself even got in the mix, responding via Twitter to a post by ESPN that inferred the reward wasn't worth the risk of going two for Sunday afternoon at the Superdome.
Asked about the decision once again during his Monday conference, Del Rio didn't care to divulge the strategy behind it, instead saying that there were myriad factors that led to the call.
"At the end of the day, you have to go with you believe is right for your football team," Del Rio said. "I believed that we would come back and win that game, and I believed that going for it was the right thing to do, and I let them know early, that that's what we were going to do."
Del Rio's decision has been analyzed over and over since Sunday – something the head coach knew would occur – but going forward, he's prepared to answer any question after making a tough in-game decision that he believes is best for the team.
"I'm not a gambler, but I do believe in having the courage to do what I think is best for this football team," Del Rio said. "I understand that with that, questions get asked. Good or bad, I'm willing to do that when I'm doing what in my gut I believe is the right thing and part of that was showing the belief in our football team – showing the belief in Derek Carr, showing the belief in Michael Crabtree. Showing the belief in our group to go down and do the things we needed to do to win that game."