Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, like many other high-rollers who went to Las Vegas, left as losers.
Derek Carr threw three touchdown passes and the Las Vegas Raiders rallied to beat the Saints, 34-24, in their new hometown on Monday Night Football in the first-ever game at 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium.
Fans were not allowed in the stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Raiders have started the season 2-0 for the first time since 2017. It is also only the fourth time since in this century, winning their first two games in 2000 and 2002.
“We believed we could be 2-0, but not a lot of other people did,” said Carr, who completed 28 of 38 passes to 11 receivers for 282 yards and didn’t throw an interception while out-playing future Hall of Famer Brees and leading the Raiders back from two 10-point deficits. “Coach (Jon) Gruden had a great plan, and we believe in ourselves.
“We controlled the ball, but when you do that, you have to finish things off and score points, and we were able to do that. We’re going to control the ball with Josh (Jacobs), but we have some weapons in the passing game and have to get the ball to them too.”
Thanks to a massive game by tight end Darren Waller, Carr did it against a defense that last week intercepted two of Tom Brady’s passes, one for a pick-six, in a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Raiders fell behind 10-0 and 17-7, but Carr led them on consecutive scoring drives of 66, 75, 31, and 75 yards to build a 31-17 lead with 4:34 left in the game, when Las Vegas fooled the Saints on Jalen Richard’s 20-yard touchdown run down the right sideline from a passing formation on a third-and-10.
Richard made up for a fumble that was the Raiders’ only turnover in their first two games.
Brees didn’t go quietly, leading the Saints down the field on an eight-play, 67-yard scoring drive with Alvin Kamara scoring on a one-yard touchdown run with 3:10 left in the game to make it 31-24.
Instead of going for the onside kick, the Saints kicked deep. Carr led the Raiders back down the field with the help of a 29-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was trying to stay with rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.
On fourth down at the New Orleans 36, Gruden decided not to punt, and instead, Daniel Carlson hammered a 54-yard field goal with 1:05 left to clinch the victory.
“That was a great kick and I’m proud of Daniel,” Carr said. “And his wife is going to have a baby tonight. Good for him.”
Brees completed four more passes before time ran out, and he finished 26-of-38 with a six-yard touchdown pass to former Raiders tight end Jared Cook that gave the Saints a 17-7 lead with 5:22 left in the first half before Las Vegas took control.
However, Brees also threw an interception to linebacker Nick Morrow that led to Carlson’s 28-yard field goal that made it 17-17 on the last play of the first half.
“We made way to many mistakes and held ourselves back with penalties (10 for 129 yards),” said Brees, who led the Saints to a 13-3 record last season and the NFC South title.
“But you have to look at what (the Raiders) did). They were able to control the ball with the run and the pass had great balance and had possession of the ball for 36 minutes to 24 for us. That was the story of the game.”
Jacobs appeared to sustain a thigh injury that needed treatment on the sidelines, rushed 27 times for 88 yards, and caught three passes for 17 yards, but Waller was the star of the game.
Waller, who made Cook expendable in free agency last year, caught 12 passes for 103 yards and a one-yard touchdown pass with 9:58 left in the third quarter put the Raiders ahead for good, 24-17.
“Once again, he made a lot of catches for a lot of yards,” Carr said of his favorite receiver. “He’s a great story, doesn’t get enough credit for recovering from substance abuse. This was the best day of his life on Monday Night Football and I’m proud of him.”
Added Gruden: “I know all about George Kittle, Travis Kelce, and all those guys, but I’ll take (Waller) overall any tight end in the league. Our game plan was to get him the ball, and we did.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the Raiders, who play at the New England Patriots (1-1) next week, followed by the Buffalo Bills (2-0) in Las Vegas and a trip to face the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
How to watch or listen to the Las Vegas Raiders versus the New England Patriots next Sunday?
TV: CBS 1 PM ET/10 AM PT
Radio: Raider Nation Radio
Odds: (Not Available)
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