Las Vegas, NV — Derek Carr has been taking a lot of heat the last few years but this year he remains focus at the task at hand.
Spotting the New Orleans Saints (1-1) an early 10-point lead, the Raiders (2-0) regrouped on offense and made enough significant plays on defense for a 34-24 win in the first game in the history of Allegiant Stadium.
The new $2 billion stadium in the desert held its first event following the Raiders’ move from Oakland without any fans because of the pandemic.
“To be 2-0 as the Las Vegas Raiders, that’s a pretty cool thing,” quarterback Derek Carr said.
Carr completed 28 of 38 passes for 282 yards and touchdowns of 3 yards to Alec Ingold, 15 yards to Zay Jones and 1 yard to Darren Waller. Jalen Richard had a 20-yard touchdown run on third-and-10 with 7:43 to go for a 14-point lead, and Daniel Carlson kicked field goals of 28 and 54 yards, the latter coming with 1:08 to play in the game to seal the deal.
“Hopefully our fans, even though they couldn’t be here tonight, hopefully see something they like,” coach Jon Gruden said. “We can’t wait to get them back in this place. It’s such a great place to see a game.”
The Raiders converted third downs in the clutch (10 of 17) they dominated time of possession 36:18 to 23:42 and kept the Saints off the turf. After punting on their first two possessions and falling behind, the Black and Silver scored three touchdowns and a field goal before a turnover.
New Orleans averaged 7.4 yards per play and Drew Brees was 26 of 38 for 312 yards and a touchdown, if New Orleans had more time with the ball it would have been a different outcome.
The Raiders opened the season with two straight wins for the fourth time in the past 25 seasons.
“This organization means everything to me,” Carr said. “They’ve stuck behind me through some hard times. Through some times our team, we struggled, there’s no doubt about it. But when you can get on the other side of things, be 2-0, as the Las Vegas Raiders, that’s a pretty cool thing.”
Darren Waller had 12 receptions for 103 yards and Carr found him most of the evening.
The Saints committed 10 penalties for 129 yards to three for 13 yards for the Raiders. Five of the Raiders’ 28 first downs came by New Orleans penalty.
Carr orchestrated four straight scoring drives in the second and third quarters to turn a 10-0 deficit into a 24-17 lead.
“Derek Carr was awesome tonight,” Gruden said. “He made some some plays today that very few guys that I’ve coached could make. I tip my hat to him.”
After being manhandled on the ground early in the game, the Raiders made some adjustments against Brees and company, who struggled without his injured receiver Michael Thomas. The receiving core looked out of sync with Brees in the second half.
Brees threw a key interception at the end of the first half to set up a field goal for the Raiders.
“If there’s one thing I wish I could take back from the game it would be that,” Brees said. “Otherwise, we had a lot of metal errors. I felt like we were not playing as fast and just as sure and confident.”
New Orleans cut the lead to 31-24 on Alvin Kamara’s second TD run, the Raiders got a pass interference call against Janoris Jenkins and then they sealed the victory with a 54-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson.
“We got to do a better job coaching,” coach Sean Payton said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a real pleasant film to watch — for some of our star players as well.”