Daniel Carlson did what Wil Lutz could not: make all his field goals and point-after attempts. And one can make a valid argument that it made all the difference in the Las Vegas Raiders’ 17-16 win over the Denver Broncos. Oh, and A.J. Cole was his usual self, too.
“Sniper” Carlson made his lone field goal attempt (from 24 yards out) and drilled both his PAT tries — good for five of Las Vegas’ 17 points — while Lutz (is it fair to add a “k” in front of his last name?) — the hand-picked kicker that new Denver boss Sean Payton, mind you — went wide right on a 55-yard field goal and shanked a PAT. It certainly makes you wonder if bringing in a primarily dome kicker like Lutz was a sound idea for a team that plays outdoors at Empower Field at Mile High. The 29-year-old was the New Orleans Saints kicker from 2016 to 2022 and is all too familiar with Payton from the bayou days.
Carlson, meanwhile, remains his reliable self for the Silver and Black. The 28-year-old did his job when called upon and put points on the scoreboard, unlike his counterpart. If Carlson isn’t your fantasy football kicker, why isn’t he? Perhaps also roster Saints kicker Blake Grupe, considering who his quarterback is. That’ll get you points.
Raiders Week 1: More Of The Same From Daniel Carlson, A.J. Cole
Carlson’s special team’s battery mate, punter and holder A.J. Cole III, was used sparingly in the Raiders’ season-opening division win. The 27-year-old blasted his lone punt 49 yards down the field in mile-high air, which was fair caught. Cole out-punted his counterpart, Riley Dixon, who had two punts for 80 yards. Granted, Dixon had a shorter field to deal with, but the 40.0 average for Denver was meek.
The performance by Denver’s special teams crew embodied the disconcerting overall result. For example, Payton went to his bag of tricks and called for an onside kick that the Broncos would’ve recovered if it weren’t for the horsemen touching the ball before it went the full 10 yards. That miscue energized the Raiders with a short field, and 10 plays and 44 yards later, Las Vegas scored a touchdown off a three-yard throw from Jimmy Garoppolo to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (his first score of two).
Lutz’ crucial miss…
Then came Lutz’s PAT miss on the ensuing Broncos’ drive, which gave the Raiders life as they held a 7-6 lead. Fortunately for Denver, Las Vegas couldn’t capitalize on the missed field goal, although the Raiders did drive to the Broncos’ six-yard line before a tipped pass resulted in an interception in the end zone.
But from there, a Lutz 24-yard field goal was all Denver could muster offensively before the Raiders went 75 yards on six plays as Garoppolo found Meyers on a slant for a six-yard go-ahead touchdown.
Perhaps the only area of Carlson’s game that raises any concern is kickoffs, where the Broncos had two opportunities to return them; Marvin Mims Jr. brought them out for a total of 55 yards (a long of 30).
The Raiders Week 2 matchup with the Buffalo Bills (who play the New York Jets on Monday Night Football) should provide more opportunities for both Daniel Carlson and A.J. Cole. Make of that what you will (positive or negative).
*Top Photo: CNN Sports