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Derek Carr, Raiders Defeat Drew Brees, Saints to Win 1st Game in Las Vegas

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2020

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

Las Vegas clearly suits the Raiders.

The Raiders defeated the New Orleans Saints 34-24 in Monday's inter-conference showdown, which was the first-ever game in Allegiant Stadium. Las Vegas is 2-0 on the season with two wins over NFC South foes after Derek Carr and Darren Waller led the way in the latest effort.

New Orleans was without star wide receiver Michael Thomas and fell to 1-1 on the campaign despite a solid showing from Alvin Kamara.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

This is the 5th time the Raiders have scored 30 points in each of their first 2 games, and first time since 2002 (lost in Super Bowl). They made it to the conference championship in each of the previous 4 instances. https://t.co/7h8s2obyCF

            

Notable Player Stats

  • Derek Carr, QB, LV: 28-of-38 for 282 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INT
  • Josh Jacobs, RB, LV: 27 carries for 88 yards
  • Darren Waller, TE, LV: 12 catches for 103 yards and 1 TD
  • Drew Brees, QB, NO: 26-of-38 for 312 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT
  • Alvin Kamara, RB, NO: 13 carries for 79 yards and 2 TDs; 9 catches for 95 yards
  • Tre'Quan Smith, WR, NO: 5 catches for 86 yards

           

Derek Carr, Darren Waller Keep Offensive Momentum Rolling

Nobody is going to mistake Carr for Aaron Rodgers, but there was plenty of reason for optimism regarding Las Vegas' offense coming out of Week 1.

He hit nine different pass-catchers without a turnover in the win over the Carolina Panthers with Henry Ruggs III's speed on the outside and Waller as a matchup nightmare in the middle of the field. Throw in three rushing touchdowns for Josh Jacobs, and the Raiders appeared to have a dynamic group in the making.

Whether they could replicate such a performance against a realistic Super Bowl contender was a primary focus of Monday's game, and things got off to a rocky start in a scoreless first quarter.

Las Vegas Raiders @Raiders

WHAT. A. CATCH. @zayjones11 for six! #RaiderNation #NOvsLV | Live on @ESPNNFL https://t.co/fWDevp616I

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

Carr showing out in the Raiders' home debut 🔥 3 TDs, 223 pass yards so far (via @NFL) https://t.co/6TvZycMqWC

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Carr really carving up the Saints defense https://t.co/Ew8x6Ouo7L

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

.@iAM_JoshJacobs is a machine 😤 (via @thecheckdown) https://t.co/St0ZkUH76P

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

First TD in Allegiant for the Raiders 🔥 (via @Raiders) https://t.co/iRTqCpAeKa

However, Carr settled in and established a rhythm with Waller whenever he was in an ideal single-coverage situation. That connection helped Las Vegas march down the field, and touchdown passes to Alec Ingold and Zay Jones closed the early deficit.

Fittingly, it was Waller who put the Raiders ahead for the first time in Allegiant Stadium with a touchdown reception on 4th-and-goal in the third quarter. He was simply too big for the safeties and too athletic for the linebackers, which opened up everything else for the offense.

In fact, almost everything hit for Las Vegas. Carr spread the ball around even more in this win and connected with 11 different pass-catchers, while Jacobs picked up tough yardage on the inside and Jalen Richard sprinted for a touchdown to go up two scores in the fourth quarter.

A botched pitch play when Carr fumbled was about the offense's only mistake after the opening 15 minutes. The unit may not be quite ready to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West, but the playoffs are very much a possibility.

              

Saints Offense Sputters Down Stretch Without Michael Thomas

There is no replacing Thomas.

After all, he set the NFL single-season receptions record last year on his way to 149 catches for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns while making his case to be considered the best wide receiver in the league.

Making up for that lost production figured to start with Drew Brees, especially considering he was under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. According to NFL Research, the future Hall of Famer entered the contest one win behind Tom Brady's 17 for the third-most MNF victories. He also had the highest passer rating (106.0) of all quarterbacks with 10 or more MNF starts.

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

.@A_kamara6 is too shifty (via @NFL) https://t.co/vvWIlTA1lE

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

Kamara punches it in for 6 😤 (via @NFL) https://t.co/mseMl2mw73

New Orleans Saints @Saints

For the first time in the endzone this season... he went to JARED 💍 #Saints https://t.co/LZw7fjZLkL

However, it was Kamara carrying the offense at first with the opening touchdown run in the first quarter. He made defenders miss on screens, ran between the tackles and bounced to the outside, forcing additional attention into the box and helping open up the aerial attack.

Brees found Jared Cook to go up two scores in the first half, but an interception to Nicholas Morrow helped the Raiders tie the game by halftime and seize the momentum following a slow start.

Adam Silverstein @SilversteinAdam

Feel like there's zero way the Saints win this game. Been completely outplayed since the first quarter, compounding mistakes. This is rough.

Mina Kimes @minakimes

*says softly, but with more conviction* jameis https://t.co/8ozX5yr0Sn

That interception took the wind out of the Saints' sails, as Brees started missing throws, receivers failed to get open downfield and penalties undercut promising chances. Kamara did add a late touchdown, but it was after the Raiders seized control of the game when New Orleans punted on its two possessions after the pick.

Thomas not only puts up his own head-turning numbers, but he also opens everything up for his teammates because of all the attention he attracts. That was missing in the key moments of Monday's game, which led to the Saints' first loss of the season.

          

What's Next?

Both teams are in action in Week 3 when the Raiders are at the New England Patriots and the Saints host the Green Bay Packers.

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