The Raiders defense that has been beaten down and battered for the past few seasons won them the game Monday night. With all eyes on them against one the league's most electrifying quarterbacks, Gus Bradley and the defense delivered.
In Allegiant Stadium's first regular season game with fans in attendance, the defense was able to string together a cohesive pass rush and a few turnovers to get a victory over the Baltimore Ravens. A defense that had the fewest number of sacks of any team in the past few seasons had three tonight. The Silver and Black pressured Lamar Jackson on 54.5 percent of his dropbacks. That's the highest pressure rate the Raiders defense has had on a quarterback since 2016, according to Next Gen Stats.
The intensity of the pass rush was lead in part by Maxx Crosby. The defensive lineman finished the game with six tackles, five quarterback hits and two sacks. In his first game as a Raiders team captain, he used the support of Raider Nation and his teammates to turn in one of his best performances to date.
"I love this team and I love this organization," said Crosby. "So for me having a fanbase going crazy – I've always taken it seriously, but being a team captain, I never want to let my teammates down. They look to me for an example of someone who works hard and shows up and makes plays and does everything they have to do to win games. So that's what I'm going to do every single day and I've been doing that and I'm going to continue to just keep going."
Crosby got a lot of help from his teammates on the line next to him, with Quinton Jefferson recording five tackles and a forced fumble, Yannick Ngakoue with four tackles, a QB hit and a pass deflection, and great effort fromDarius Philon and Johnathan Hankins to stop the run.
One defensive player alongside Crosby who really stepped up with a huge momentum play was Carl Nassib. The defensive end got a strip sack on Lamar Jackson in overtime that set up the game-winning touchdown drive. Nassib's big-time play couldn't come at a bigger time in a bigger game for him – as he became the first actively gay athlete to play in a regular season game.
"The ball is everything. getting turnovers is the 'make or break' of a good defense," said Nassib. "We have a takeaway circuit every day, and it was definitely important. I'm glad I could get the ball out in a clutch situation."
The pass rush was very evident with Jackson's two fumbles while holding the Ravens to less than 100 rushing yards. While this is just the first game of the season, this should give Raider Nation a lot to be hopeful for concerning this Gus Bradley-charged defense.
View photos from the Raiders' Week 1 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens at Allegiant Stadium.