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The FSM Essential Recap: Raiders vs Panthers – Week 1

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 Las Vegas Raiders (1-0) vs Carolina Panthers (0-1)

 

In a year that has been so trying and traumatic for many, the dawn of a new age started in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Raiders played their first game under their new home city’s name to kick-off the 2020 NFL season.

 

Jon Gruden’s second play call of the 2020 season was a deep ball intended for their 1sr-round pick, Henry Ruggs III, who was double-covered and slightly overthrown. The Silver and Black went three and out and punted the ball. The Raiders’ revamped defense gave up a field goal in their first action of the season on the Panthers’ first drive.

 

Raiders vs Panthers
Photo Credit: NBC Sports

Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr and second-year running back Josh Jacobs led the Raiders on an 8-play 75-yard scoring drive, accumulating in Jacobs’ 1-yard touchdown run, their first score of the season, and overall as the Las Vegas Raiders. The big play of the drive was a Carr to Ruggs III 45-yard pass down to the Panthers 1-yard line where Ruggs III showed his speed on a deep crossing route.

The Panthers came right back with a touchdown of their own after a 10-play, 63-yard drive finished off by a Christian McCaffrey 6-yard touchdown. The Panthers missed the extra point, and late in the 1st quarter, the Raiders trailed 9-7.

The Raiders new offense wasted no time coming right back with a field goal of their own after a 15 play, 73-yard possession that ended with a Daniel Carlson field goal, giving the Raiders a 10-9 lead.

 

In the second quarter the Raiders offense continued to move the ball with ease against Carolina.

 

Carr had the Raiders’ offense moving the ball up and down the field, looking sharp and in control.  The team’s increased speed is noticeable and makes the offense feel more explosive. Ruggs III went down late in the first half with a lower left leg injury but returned to the game in the second half.

 

Raiders vs Panthers
Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/AP

Carr hit former USC Trojans star Nelson Agholor for his first touchdown pass of the season. It was a 23-yard completion in which Carr dropped a dime in the lap of Agholor, who was covered tightly. The Panthers kicked a field goal just before halftime, and the Raiders led 17-15.

CarrJacobs, and Ruggs III led the Raiders in the first half on the offensive side of the ball; however, it was the Raiders defense that made the difference in the second half, stalling the Panthers when they got inside the red zone or when they had opportunities to score.

 

 

The third quarter saw the Raiders defense start to make plays and force the Panthers out of their comfort zone.

 

The first punt of the season came on the Panthers‘ first second-half possession. The Raiders defense did an excellent job creating an uncomfortable pocket for Bridgewater and wrapping up McCaffrey. The Raiders drove down the field but were forced to settle for a 54-yard field goal by Carlson, who banged it through with ease to give the Raiders a 20-15 lead.

 

Raiders vs Panthers
Photo Credit: Cat Crave

The Raiders defense then forced their second three-and-out. Carl Nassib had a sack on Bridgewater, a welcome sign for Raider Nation. The Raiders need more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and Nassib was signed to help out. The young Raiders’ secondary played well at this point in the game, blanketing the Panthers’ receivers. Jacobs rushed for his second touchdown of the game, this time from 9 yards out. At this point in the game, he had 93 total yards and was looking like the best player on the field.

Jonathan Abram started to assert himself in the second half, laying big hits on McCaffrey and Panthers’ wide receivers. The defense set the tone for the offense in the second half, giving the Raiders new life and a jolt they haven’t seen in years. The Raiders did get some bad news in the third quarter. One of the Raiders key free agents, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski injured his pectoral muscle and did not return to the game. The injury could open the door for former UNLV football star Javin White if Kwiatkoski misses significant time.

 

The fourth quarter saw the Raiders leading 27-15 and continuing to look like the real deal on both sides of the ball.

 

McCaffrey scored from a couple of yards out to make it 27-22 early in the 4th quarter. The Panthers went heavy run on that drive and made it look easy. Losing Kwiatkoski played a role in that drive by not having their middle linebacker and defensive play-caller in the game. The Raiders’ trade with the Miami Dolphins earlier this training camp for Raekwon McMillan may play a more significant role than anyone thought when it happened.

Rookie cornerback Damon Arnette got burnt by Robbie Anderson later in the 4th for a touchdown. The Panthers converted the 2-point conversion to give them a 30-27 lead with 8:29 left in the game. Erik Harris was late getting over in coverage, but the Panthers’ top receiving target toasted Arnette. The Raiders got the ball back and were aided by back-to-back pass interference penalties by the Panthers to keep their drive alive, all while they were in the red zone in under 3 minutes.

 

Raiders vs Panthers
Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/AP

Carr did a great job orchestrating the offense on the drive, which resulted in another Josh Jacobs touchdown; his third of the day, on a 4 yard run off the right side, giving the Raiders a 34-30 lead with 4:08 left in the game. Bryan Edwards and Darren Waller did an excellent job sealing off the outside, allowing Jacobs to get to the edge and walk into the end zone.

It was time for the Raiders defense to make a play and make a stand. The Panthers gave the Raiders a steady dose of their best player, arguably the NFL’s top running back, McCaffery. Carolina neared midfield when the 2-minute warning hit before a critical third down. McCaffrey caught a pass just short of the first down, forcing the Panthers to go for it. This is where the Raiders former first-round pick Clelin Ferrell came up huge, along with McMillan, stuffing the Panthers running back, giving the Raiders the ball back.

 

After three straight running plays, and a punt the Raiders came away with a stop and the win. It is the their first as the Las Vegas Raiders and they start the season 1-0 for the second year in a row. It was a game that showcased the Raiders’ new look defense and speed, and gives Raiders fans hope that the new beginnings in Las Vegas brings a lot of wins to Raider Nation.

 

Raiders Notes:

Derek Carr finished 22/30 for 239 and 1 touchdown. Josh Jacobs ran for 93 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns. Jacobs also had 46 yards receiving. Henry Ruggs III finished the day with 55 yards receiving (all in the first half), which led the Raiders. Darren Waller had six catches for 45 yards.

 

Next week the Las Vegas Raiders will open their home, Allegiant Stadium when they host Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. The game kicks off Monday at 5 pm and can be seen on ESPN.

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Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

 

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