Football in "Sin City" is now a thing, and the New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders gave us one heck of a "Monday Night Football" showdown, complete with a surprise outcome courtesy of a big night for Jon Gruden's squad. While the Saints jumped out to an early lead at Allegiant Stadium, carrying a 10-point advantage deep into the second quarter, Derek Carr and Co. proved to be the better unit as the night wore on. Using an efficient offensive attack and capitalizing on some uncharacteristic throws from Drew Brees, the Raiders improved to 2-0 on the 2020 season with a 34-24 upset of a presumed NFC heavyweight.
Here are some of our immediate takeaways from the Raiders' surprise victory on Monday night.
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Why the Raiders won
Believe it or not, Derek Carr was easily the best quarterback on the field Monday night. He started off so-so, infamously taking back-to-back sacks in the first half despite good protection up front, but was nearly flawless from that point on. The Raiders never really dialed up any deep shots for him, but that didn't matter, as he dinked and dunked his way to a showcase of incredible efficiency. It certainly helped that Darren Waller was virtually unstoppable as his top target, victimizing Malcolm Jenkins and looking like an actual No. 1 WR at tight end. The O-line also deserves props after neutralizing Cameron Jordan without two injured starters, as does the defense, which surrendered some long plays but never appeared fazed by the Saints' weapons. Johnathan Abram, in particular, was a force on the back end for Vegas, disrupting several Drew Brees passes and setting a physical tone for the rest of the unit.
Why the Saints lost
Drew Brees looked a lot more like a QB nearing retirement than one primed for a Super Bowl run. For whatever reason, No. 9 never seemed fully on target in Vegas, putting too much air on early throws, tossing an inexplicable interception and flat-out missing open targets after New Orleans lost its early lead. Don't be fooled by the fourth-quarter scoring drive that padded his stats; Brees was not good enough in prime time against a suspect defense, and he was the No. 1 reason the Saints could not keep up with Carr and the Raiders. Not having Michael Thomas, who was sidelined with an injury, obviously affected the offense, but only Alvin Kamara consistently flashed on that side of the ball. On "D," New Orleans died by a thousand cuts, with vets like Malcolm Jenkins and Janoris Jenkins regularly failing to put a stop to Carr's quick-strike attack. Things got worse as the game wore on, with Josh Jacobs and Jalen Richard making the visitors look gassed.
The Saints owned a 10-point lead with just over five minutes left in the first half, but after a 10-play, 75-yard Raiders scoring drive capped by a Carr TD to Zay Jones, that lead was cut to three. Four plays later, Brees all but begged Las Vegas to steal every remaining ounce of momentum. Pressured up the middle on a first-down throw from his own 38, he just tossed the ball right over the middle -- with no clear receiver in sight -- and watched as Nicholas Morrow recorded the easiest INT of the year. The Raiders proceeded to tie the game at 17 with a field goal, then carry their surge into the second half en route to victory.
Play of the game
Whether it was more so Jalen Richard dazzling off the edge or the Saints getting lackadaisical, the former's big third-down TD run helped seal Vegas' upset:
The Saints (1-1) will be back in prime time in Week 3, when they return home to host "Sunday Night Football" against the Green Bay Packers (2-0), who have lit up the scoreboards under Aaron Rodgers' direction. The Raiders (2-0), meanwhile, will hit the road for an afternoon showdown with the New England Patriots (1-1), who came up just short against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.