It took a couple of years, but the former Oakland Raiders are now officially the Las Vegas Raiders. The NFL team was finally able to make its move after the end of last season, ready to enjoy a new city and a new stadium. The Raiders played their first home game on the new turf yesterday at Allegiant Stadium and didn’t let down their die-hard fans or the new ones they picked up along the way. Not only did they beat the New Orleans Saints as the definitive underdogs, they completely walked all over their opponents in the second half of the game.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was on fire yesterday, throwing three touchdowns and completing 28 of his 38 passes. Tight end Darren Waller was Carr’s go-to man in the game, grabbing 12 of the balls to rack up 103 yards. However, Carr tried not to show favoritism and was able to connect with several different targets as the Raiders secured their 34-24 victory. That kept the Saints on their toes, making it more difficult to defend against the aerial plays.
The Saints got off to a good start in the game, scoring ten unanswered points early on. However, the Raiders didn’t let that, or several questionable penalties throughout the game, stand in the way, mounting a comeback that would see the score tied heading into the half. Carr produced four consecutive scoring drives and, when the action resumed after the break, his run continued. The Saints defense proved to be overwhelmed by the Raiders, unable to stop the team on third- and fourth-down conversions. The Raiders converted two fourth-down attempts, one of which resulted in a touchdown.
The Saints, who now sit at 1-1 on the season, did a good job trying to mount a comeback, even if it fell short. Quarterback Drew Brees was able to move the ball quickly downfield late in the fourth quarter, leading the way for running back Alvin Kamara to punch into the end zone to come within less than one score of the Raiders. The Raiders got the ball back and started their push down the field, getting some assistance from a pass interference call against the Saints. With time running out, the Raiders set up for a 54-yard field goal – long by any standard – and kicker Daniel Carlson knocked it in.
Had it not been for the pass interference call, the Saints could have had one more opportunity to go for it and overcome the Raiders. However, Brees, who threw 26 passes for 312 yards, and the rest of the team played sloppy and let little errors stand in their way. Head coach Sean Payton said after the game, “We got to do a better job coaching. I don’t think it’s going to be a real pleasant film to watch — for some of our star players as well.”
Allegiant Stadium, which has been called the “Roomba” stadium and the “Death Star” because of its unique design, is now officially broken in, and the Raiders should be proud of their performance. While fans weren’t allowed to attend the game because of COVID-19, this only means that the hype will continue to build. The Raiders have apparently scored a huge win with their new home and Las Vegas is looking to score big, as well.