NEW ORLEANS, La. -– Michael Crabtree lined up on the left flank and ran a fade toward the corner of the end zone. It must have felt like déjà vu.
As a 49er, the Raiders receiver ran three fade routes in the Superdome at the end of Super Bowl XLVII and couldn’t bring one down. That would’ve clinched a championship. The Ravens won.
The stakes were slightly lower on Sunday afternoon, but Crabtree knew a catch equaled a Raiders win. The ball was coming his way based upon the match up. He knew that for sure. Crabtree ran an excellent route, blocked out his man and secured a near-perfect pass.
It was worth two points, the deciding factor in a 35-34 victory over the Saints.
"Last time, it ended bad,” Crabtree said, via Bay Area News Group. “This time, the last play ended good."
It sure did. It was a clutch performance on a risky decision head coach Jack Del Rio made with confidence.
“We came here to win,” Del Rio said. “I thought, ‘Let’s win it right now. Every part of our strategy was focused on getting the win.”
He said as much before the game-winning drive began. He walked over to quarterback Derek Carr and said, “After we score, we’re going for 2.”
And that was that. The Raiders drew up a play designed for Crabtree, and Carr locked on his primary option after receiving a favorable matchup.
It worked. Crabtree got some form of redemption, the Raiders got a tough road win and Del Rio hit the jackpot. It was a gutsy call, one that was made by one person. There was no discussion. Del Rio called his shot.
“I didn’t ask for any feedback,” Del Rio said. “I let them know early in the drive what we were going to do.”
Del Rio put his faith in Crabtree, and the veteran delivered.
"Why not trust (Crabtree)? The guy’s got great hands,” Del Rio said. “He did a nice job. Derek gave him a great ball and Michael went up and got it.”
Going for the win was a sound strategy in a shootout where offenses were scoring almost at will. An extra point would’ve tied it and could’ve sent the game to overtime where Saints quarterback Drew Brees would’ve been a coin flip away from being able to win it himself.
Crabtree took control of the game with the play of the day.
“Derek gave me a great ball there, and he did that the entire game,” Crabtree said. “That shows he trusts me. And it wasn’t a gutsy call at all, not at all. He (Coach 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.”
Odds of executing it right apparently weren’t in the Raiders’ favor. ESPN Stats and Information put out a tweet saying that the Raiders had a 51-percent chance to win if they would’ve kicked the extra point and a 44-percent chance of winning if they went for 2.
Del Rio, relatively new to Twitter responded to those numbers succinctly, saying “Good thing ESPN isn’t coaching the Raiders.”
Good thing ESPN isn't coaching the Raiders https://t.co/X6tB1YlZ4d
— Jack Del Rio (@coachdelrio) September 11, 2016