Several of you asked us on Friday why the Raiders kicked off to start each half of their preseason opener on Thursday. Peter King of SI.com has the details in his Monday Morning Quarterback column.
King writes that the Raiders won the toss to start the game. One captain said that the Raiders wanted to defer the option to the second half, a college-style tweak that the NFL added to the game in 2008 (has it been that long?). Another captain said that the Raiders want to kick.
The referee (Phil Luckett has an alibi) heard only “we want to kick,” and Ron Winter interpreted that to mean the Raiders were opting not to defer the option but affirmatively exercising the option to kick. This gave the Cardinals the option in the second half, and they opted to receive.
Moving forward, it won’t be out of the question for a team to choose to kick, especially with the kickoff point now at the 35. If a team has a great defense and a strong-legged kicker, why not put the opponent on its own 20 to start the game? A three-and-out and a modest punt return could put the ball near the 50 for the kicking team’s first drive.