by TREVOR KAPIGIAN
After a season where there looked like the Raiders had improved greatly, they wanted to come into this season and show why they can be contenders. And the Raiders showed that in their first game against the Saints. The Raiders flew into New Orleans determined to come out with the win. But future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints high-powered offense were not going to make it easy.
After winning the coin toss and deferring to receive the ball, the Raiders defense came out strong. Brees missed his first two throws and Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin came around and got a strip-sack fumble that was recovered by rookie defensive end, Shilique Calhoun. Raiders failed to find the endzone and settled for a field goal. The Saints bounced back and tied the game with a field goal. The Raiders next drive fixed the offensive struggles from earlier, and running back, Latavius Murray, went up the middle and scored on a 6-yard rush to end the 1st quarter.
Drew Brees and the Saints offense matched the Raiders after Brees connected with wide receiver Willie Snead multiple times on the drive. Brees topped the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Snead, tying the game at 10. The Raiders offense was silent all of the second quarter, not being to score at all. Where the Saints did not miss their opportunities. Brees continued to find receivers and capped another drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Finishing off the 1st half the score was 10-17.
Coming out of halftime, the Raiders offense went to rally around quarterback Derek Carr but still failed to do anything on their first drive. Raiders punter Marquette King sent a booming punt to the Saints that put the ball on the 2-yard line, setting up for a good drive for the Raiders defense. But on the first play of the drive, wide receiver Brandin Cooks was burned by corner Sean Smith and caught the pass for a 98-yard touchdown pass; Brees’ third of the day. The only points the Raiders came away with was another field goal making the game 13-24 going into the 4th.
Derek Carr and the Raiders needed a spark on offense, and Derek Carr started to connect with the receivers. Carr connected with 2nd year wide out Amari Cooper twice for 51 yards and wide receiver Michael Crabtree for 25 yards. Raiders went for two but missed their opportunity, settling for 6. They finished off the drive with fullback Jamize Olawale for a 2-yard rush. Saints kicked a field goal making the score 19-27. Raiders came back and relied on undrafted rookie running back Jalen Richard, who came out and scored on a 75-yard rushing touchdown. Raiders, for the second time went for two, and Derek Carr hit Amari Cooper who got the two-point conversion, tying the game at 27. The Saints came out and went to answer the Raiders 8 point drive. Brees connected with Snead for 43 yards, but Smith fumbled the ball and Saints rookie receiver Michael Thomas picked it up and was brought down at the 2 yard line. Brees finished off the drive with his 4th touchdown pass of the day to running back Travaris Cadet. Carr and the Raiders came back and scored off an 11-yard touchdown pass from Carr to wide receiver Seth Roberts. And for the third time, the Raiders made a gutsy call and went for two. Carr lobbed it to Crabtree and he pulled it down for the two-point conversion, giving the Raiders the lead with 47 seconds left. Brees got the Saints in range for the rookie kicker Wil Lutz to kick a 63 yard field goal. The Kick fell short giving the Raiders a 35-34 victory to kick off the season. Carr finished off with 319 yards passing and 1 touchdown. Amari Cooper came away with 137 receiving yards and rookie Jalen Richard had 83 rushing yards on 3 carries and a touchdown. Brees threw for 423 yards and 4 touchdowns, Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks combined had 315 receiving yards and had 3 touchdowns.