Momentum totally hadn’t vanished, but the New Orleans Saints’ hold on it – and their lead against the Las Vegas Raiders – was precarious, at best.
When the Raiders completed a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to pull to within 17-14 on Monday night at Allegiant Stadium, in the Raiders’ first-ever home game in Las Vegas, there was time – 1:44, to be exact – remaining in the first half for the Saints to respond. There was enough time for New Orleans to extend its lead to six or 10 points, and feel positive about the way the half ended after initially taking leads of 10-0 and 17-7.
But in a phase of the game where the Saints often have come through – the two-minute drill – they didn’t and, worse, gave Las Vegas a golden opportunity to do so in what became a 34-24 loss.
Four plays and 13 yards into the Saints’ drive to respond, on first-and-10 from their 38-yard line, the Raiders applied pressure up the middle on quarterback Drew Brees. And at that point, Brees admittedly threw a pass he shouldn’t have.
The pass was an attempt over the middle, intended for receiver Deonte Harris. It landed into the waiting hands of Raiders linebacker Nicholas Morrow at the 46, and he returned it six yards to the 40, with 48 seconds left in the half.
Eight plays later, Daniel Carlson’s 28-yard field goal tied the score at 17-17 as the half ended. But it also helped the Raiders seize control.
Las Vegas opened the second half with possession, scored touchdowns on two of its first three drives – the other ended with a fumble – and after scoring 24 consecutive points, was on its way to a 10-point victory.