Expectations have been high for first-year Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III. Heading into Week 13, many hoped for a strong performance against the 0-11 Jets, and shockingly, his day started and finished in ways no one expected.
Things didn’t start well for Henry Ruggs III
Fans have been hoping Ruggs would become more involved in the Raider’s offense. Many were looking for a repeat of his Week 5 performance against the Kansas City Chiefs. That day, he had over 100 yards and a huge touchdown in that AFC West joust. Heading into the game, the Jets would present a good opportunity for the rookie.
Ruggs’ opening target against the New York Jets was a high pass from Derek Carr. In retrospect, tight end Darren Waller was likely the only one that could’ve brought it in. Ruggs tipped the ball, which resulted in an interception by the Jets.
It has been a common explanation for Ruggs’ lack of production that he and Carr are not in sync. For a stretch, it seemed like the Ruggs was not part of the game plan. However, Carr then hit him with a short pass he took across midfield for a 28 yard gain. Ruggs was quiet for several drives until Carr gave him another opportunity, a short pass on third-and-6. The wide receiver ended up fumbling and the Jets recovered at the Raider’s 44-yard line.
Henry Ruggs turned the narrative around and helped the Raiders win
After a tipped pass and a fumble, the Raiders might’ve stopped targeting Ruggs. Fortunately, Carr had not given up on the speedy rookie. With five seconds left on the clock and with the team down by four, worldwide humiliation at a loss was hanging in the balance.
Jets defensive coordinator Greg Williams elected to blitz Carr with eight defenders, leaving an undrafted rookie cornerback in single coverage on Ruggs. The Alabama standout burned his man with ease on a double move and sailed into the endzone on a beautiful 46-yard touchdown to seal the game. The Jets attempted a Hail Mary but the Raiders dodged a bullet and avoided being the Jets’ first win of the season.
Ruggs said after the game that looking back, it seemed like the ball was in the air forever. Moreover, he mentioned that he just had to find it and make the play. He would finish the night with three receptions, 84 yards, one touchdown, and one fumble.
While Carr and Ruggs are still assembling their chemistry, this game-winning drive is an excellent step to set the foundation. Hopefully, the Carr/Ruggs connection can continue to grow as the Raiders fight for a playoff spot.
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