Derek Carr and Darren Waller Shine as Raiders Move to 2-0

Nicholas Cothrel
Derek Carr and Darren Waller Las Vegas Raiders Saints

The Las Vegas Raiders defeat the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football led by the offensive efforts of Derek Carr and Darren Waller in their Las Vegas debut.

On Monday night the Las Vegas Raiders overcame early adversity and relied on their dynamic duo of Derek Carr and Darren Waller to earn their first victory inside Allegiant Stadium over the Saints by a final score of 34-24. The Raiders’ Week 2 win gives Las Vegas a 2-0 start — something the organization hasn’t done since 2017.

The Saints got things going quickly, throwing 10 points up on the scoreboard in their first two offensive drives. The Raiders were unable to answer back in the first quarter as the Saints penetrated pressure from their defensive front early on. Carr was sacked on back-to-back plays, resulting in an early three and out, taking much of the momentum out of the Las Vegas’ sails.

Once things rolled into the second quarter, the Raiders began settling down. Carr found Waller early and often as the Saints had little answers for the Raiders’ No. 1 receiving target. Waller finished the night with 12 catches for 103 yards and one touchdown.

Although the Raiders are 2-0 and are coming off an enormous win on Monday night against the Saints, Carr said they don’t have time to celebrate and they won’t.

“It’s nice to go out and be 2-0,” Carr said. It’s nice to play against the Saints and get a win. It feels good. But like I told the guys after the game, the job is not done. Be all excited and feel good about ourselves because people are saying nice things now. Going into the Patriots next week, we can lose. Coach Belichick has a day up on me already and I got to get to studying.”

Waller was an unstoppable force against the Saints. He led the Raiders in receptions and receiving yards last season, and despite the additions at wide receiver this offseason, it appears Waller will remain a vital part of the offensive gameplan moving forward. The Carr and Waller connection is a potent one that appears to be growing stronger. Waller is in the discussion for being the best tight end in the NFL and his involvement on offense is here to stay as opposing teams struggle matching up with his skill set.

Carr, after a ho-hum first quarter that saw him go 3-for-5 for 38 yards, lit up in the second quarter. Carr led the Raiders back from a 17-14 deficit, going 10-of-13 for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the second frame.

Carr’s huge turnaround before halftime followed him into the second half. He connected with 11 different receiving targets while completing passes at a 73% clip for 282 yards and three touchdowns on the night.

Defensively, the Raiders still have their kinks to work out. After starting off slow and without much of any energy, they did come up with the big turnover that helped aid them to victory. The most eyepopping flaw for the Raiders includes their run-defense as they allowed 12 yards per carry to Alvin Kamara and company. Drew Brees took what the Raiders young secondary gave him, passing for 312 yards on the night.

“The message was to play with more energy,” linebacker Nicholas Morrow said of the Raiders second half turnaround. “You know, when I hand you wings and you don’t play with a lot of energy, you don’t play well. We got guys like Johnathan Abram. We got guys like Maxx Crosby. We got those young guys who are really the catalyst of our defense, they really get us going emotionally.”

The Raiders did not record a sack, bringing their season total to just one sack over the first two weeks of play. Morrow was one of the few bright spots on defense, picking off Brees, which resulted in a field goal.

In the fourth quarter, Carr got out to a 14-point lead before Brees and the Saints came battling back with Kamara’s pass-catching ability and ground attack, in which the Raiders looked all out of sorts when trying to defend the talented playamker. The versatile running back ended the game with a team-leading 79 rushing yards and 95 receiving yards.

After New Orleans put the game back in reach, Carr took a shot downfield for Henry Ruggs III, which resulted in a crucial pass interference call that took them into enemy territory. On the same drive with 1:07 left, kicker Daniel Carlson sent a 54-yard field goal attempt through the uprights, putting the game on ice for Las Vegas.

The Raiders delivered a huge statement win on a national stage. Next, they’ll look ahead to keep their win streak alive with games against the Patriots, Bills, Chiefs and Buccaneers due up on the schedule. They’ll face a tough task over the next couple weeks, but based on their performance thus far, the Raiders are suited well to compete with the punishing part of their upcoming schedule.