Updated: Nov 24, 2020
The saying goes ‘Vegas always wins.’ And for at least one week, it rings true about the desert’s newest team.
The Las Vegas Raiders defeated the Carolina Panthers, 34-30 during week one of the NFL season Sunday, Sept. 13.
A stout defensive stance plus a questionable decision from Carolina first-year head coach Matt Rhule led to the outcome and eventual win for Vegas.
Facing a fourth and one, Rhule decided to hand the ball to fullback Alex Armah, who had 15 career carries coming into the game.
Armah was upended and the Panthers were turned away.
Some, including the Raiders’ defense, expected MVP-favorite Christian McCaffrey to get the ball.
McCaffrey ended the game with 96 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns while Armah had two carries for a yard.
Second-year running back Josh Jacobs led the offensive push for Vegas scoring three of the team’s four touchdowns.
Jacobs had touchdowns in the first, third and fourth quarters from a yard, seven yards and six yards out respectively.
After the game, Vegas head coach John Gruden said Jacobs’ play on game day was reminiscent of Hall-of-Famer Walter Payton.
Jacobs finished the game with 25 carries, 93 yards and those three touchdowns. He also had four receptions for 46 yards.
His first quarter touchdown was set up by a 45-yard pitch and catch from quarterback Derek Carr to first-round draft pick Henry Ruggs.
Some critics believe the additions of Ruggs through the draft and signing of Marcus Mariota in free agency are all a part of the evaluation of Carr.
Since then, Mariota has been placed on injury-reserve with an undisclosed injury. Nate Peterman now serves as the team’s backup quarterback.
Carr went 22-for-30, passing for 239 yards and a touchdown for a quarterback rating of 107.5.
In addition, nine different players recorded at least one reception, led by tight end Darren Waller’s 45 yards on six receptions.
Newly-acquired Nelson Agohlor caught Carr’s only touchdown on his only target of the day. Agoholor faced his fair share of criticism for dropped passes during his stint in Philadelphia.
The Raiders are looking for production out of their receiving group after wide receiver Tyrell Williams was placed on injury-reserve after undergoing surgery on a torn labrum.
One key contribution to the passing success was keeping Carr upright, as Vegas did not allow any sacks during the game.
Over the last two seasons, Carr has been sacked 80 times.
While not giving up any sacks on the offensive end, the defense was active sacking Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater once and hitting him three times.
Second-year pro Johnathan Abram had a game-high 13 tackles which was fourth most on the first Sunday of the season.
Abram played in one game last year before a torn rotator cuff ended his rookie campaign.
NOTE: The Raiders were called for three penalties which cost them 40 yards. Last year’s team was the third-most penalized team in the NFL with eight a game.