The Saints made the long trip to Las Vegas this week to take on John Grudens Raiders on Monday Night Football. This was the Raiders first game in their new $2 billion stadium which I must add is very impressive, even when empty. Both teams took a win from week one with the Saints beating Tom Brady’s Buccaneers and the Raiders edging a close game 34-30 against the Carolina Panthers. The Saints (1-0) went into the game without star wide receiver Michael Thomas (Ankle) who is expected to be out for 2-4 weeks as well as Marcus Davenport (Elbow) After last week the Saints would have to be on guard against Josh Jacobs who rushed for 3 TD’s and remained one of the Raiders top threats.
The Saints began strong with Harris receiving the ball early and showing intent straight from the off, Drew Brees looked to get his passing game going early on and it was clear he was willing to take more risks than normal, Tre Quan Smith seen some early action standing in for the injured Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara looked to be in for a busy night as well. It was Kamara that would add the first ever touchdown in the Raiders new stadium putting the Saints on the board early, Lutz calmly converted the extra point. 7-0 Saints. Kamara was looking strong early on as he found gaps that most running backs would struggle to find and with Bree’s long passing game seemingly suffering with an ageing arm I felt he was relying more and more on Kamara to step up putting up 3 for 23 yards early on. The Saints defence looked strong shutting out the Raiders well, the offence looked rusty and out of sync with Brees 3 for 9 yards early on which for him is unheard of. Penalties would be the thorn in the Saints side again tonight and it was a holding call on CJ that gave the Raiders a chance to score their first touchdown in their new home, Ingold was the man to claim that notch on the record books. The Raiders began controlling the clock well and you could see Grudens game plan was to utilise Jacobs (27 for 88 yards) keep ball and run the clock keeping Brees off the field.
The Saints took a 10-0 lead into the second quarter, but the Raiders dominated it adding 17 points to the Saints 7 with Jared Cook (2/13 yards, 1 TD) scoring his first and only TD of the night. The cracks in the Saints armoury were starting to appear and you could see the team just wasn’t firing on all cylinders. They looked sloppy and looked like a team that had only met up for first time in the off season. Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr (28/38 282 yards 3 TD) would go on to rack up four straight scoring drives throughout the second and third quarters giving the Raiders a 24-17 lead, Carr played well all night and clearly looked more in control of his offence than Payton and Drew did. Although the score was close, given how the Saints were playing it did not feel it. The Raiders continued to pick apart the Saints defence with short passes and they controlled the clock well, they came with a game plan and it worked. Brees struggled all evening going for 26 of 38 for 312 yards with one TD and one interception, it’s not fair to put all the blame on Brees for the poor performance but we have to admit he did not look his normal self and that is not a good sign, when you consider the likes of Russel Wilson notching up 5 TD’s off 21 passes and 39 rushing yards the night before its clear Drew is lagging behind the current elite. I am by no means writing him off but it was clear he was way off his usual high standards, the problem is his standards are so high one off day looks a whole lot worse.
The Raiders added another TD to make it 31-17. The Saints defence were awful and played a massive part in what would be the Saints first defeat of the season. They gave away far too many penalties and it felt like all you need to do against the Saints is throw it into the secondary and you will more than likely force a PI call. Aaron Rodgers will take note of that before next weeks game am sure. Although the Saints cut the deficit back to 31-24 it was too little too late as Carlson took advantage of a PI call on Jenkins to kick a 54 yard field goal to put the Raiders up by 10 (34-24) with 1.05 on the clock in the 4th. The Raiders took the game 34-24 and it really was a poor night at the office for the Saints.
Lets be honest the Saints are not fast starters and there is a long season ahead, saying that things need to improve and with the injuries flying around the NFL at the moment we need to take advantage, I believe if we can stay fit we still have a great chance of making the Super Bowl in Tampa. Let’s not press the panic button just yet. Reasons we lost…..Brees had a major off night, the defence went missing… we gave away far too many penalties…. Taysom was hardly used considering how clearly Drew was off key….we missed MT and Davenport and quite frankly the coverage on Raiders Tight End Waller was abysmal allowing him to notch up 103 yards off 12 receptions. All in all it was a poor performance but we fight on and there are many more twists and turns ahead I am sure…this is Saints football remember. I could probably write a two-hour article of last nights failings but they were clear to see so lets move on and put this one to bed. Hopefully it gives us the kick up the backside we need.
Until next time …..Chin up