The Las Vegas Raiders secured perhaps their biggest win of the season on Thanksgiving against the Dallas Cowboys. After a three-game skid, many were writing the Raiders off, citing a similar pattern of hot starts and midseason collapses in recent years.
But against the Cowboys, they looked like the team that started the year 5-2 en route to a 36-33 win. That win would not have been possible without kicker Daniel Carlson. Carlson went 5-for-5 on field goals and 3-for-3 on extra points. Within that, he hit the game-winning field goal in overtime from 29 yards out.
Carlson almost was unable to play, though, after an early-week bout with food poisoning, according to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN:
#Raiders PK @DanielCarlson38 said he had a bout with food poisoning on Monday but never thought he’d miss today’s game. Said he would have used “an adult diaper” or a “trash bag on the sideline” if he had to. Thankfully, for him and us, neither were needed.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) November 26, 2021
Unpleasant imagery aside, Carlson showed his toughness and a willingness to play in less than ideal conditions. Not only that, he delivered in the biggest way, as the Raiders legitimately would not have won this game without their kicking unit.
Thanks to Carlson, the Raiders are now 6-5 and have firmly planted themselves back in the playoff hunt. They still sit outside looking in, but losses from the Cincinnati Bengals or Los Angeles Chargers would leave them tied for seventh.
Carlson now gets a mini-bye week with the Raiders’ next game on Dec. 5 against the Washington Football Team. Hopefully, he’ll be back to full strength, as the team’s gameplan against the Cowboys showed their heavy reliance on special teams.
Rich Bisaccia applauds the fight shown by Raiders
Even during a difficult losing streak, it never felt as though the Raiders had given up on their season. Prior to the Cowboys win, Bisaccia was especially proud of how his team has fought through difficult circumstances.
Perhaps that fight is now translating to big wins and a potential playoff berth in 2021.