There's been a lot of expectations for the Oakland Raiders heading into this season and they went into a tough environment to start the season in New Orleans.
Last year, the Oakland Raiders struggled to win close games which proved to be big in their playoff hunt down the stretch. That changed on Sunday as the Raiders opened up their season with a 35-to-34 win that came right down to the wire.
Starting quarterback Derek Carr entered the season with five comeback wins in his career in just his two seasons, and he added to that in the Superdome, a tough place to play historically.
Down by a touchdown with six minutes to go, the third-year quarterback showed great poise by leading his team down the field 75 yards in 11 plays and finding an open Seth Roberts over the middle for the touchdown with just 40 seconds remaining on the clock. Head coach Jack Del Rio showed faith in his quarterback, opting to go for the win by going for two instead of the extra point to tie the game.
Carr went to his sure-handed receiver Michael Crabtree on a fade route, who hauled in the pass to give them the 35-to-34 lead. But the game wasn't over, defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. had to find a way to to stop veteran quarterback Drew Brees, something they failed to do all day.
With no timeouts, Brees found wide receiver Willie Snead over the middle getting the Saints to the 44-yard line. With just seconds remaining on the clock, rookie kicker Wil Lutz missed the 61-yard field goal wide left to secure the Raiders 35-to-34 road win to start the season 1-0.
The Raiders defense got off to a quick start holding them forcing an early turnover, but struggled to slow down the Saints and Brees finished 28-for-42 for 423 yards and four touchdowns. Pinned down on their own two-yard line, veteran free agent signing Sean Smith got burned by Brandin Cooks for 98-yard touchdown. Smith got benched by the Raiders staff shortly after and DJ Hayden took over.
Linebacker Bruce Irvin got the Raiders off to the quick start by getting to Brees and stripping him of the ball, as rookie defensive lineman Jihad Ward recovered to give Carr the short field position. Unfortunately Bill Musgrave and his offense couldn't capitalize as they were forced to settle for the early 3-to-0 lead.
Running back Latavius Murray added to the scoring with a strong run from six yards out to give them the 10-to-3 lead. Murray finished with 14 rushes for 59 yards and one touchdown, but it was the undrafted rookie Jalen Richard who made a big impact on the offense.
Richard, who is from Louisiana, sneaked through a small hole to burst 75 yards to bring the team within two points at 27-to-25. Carr then found second-year wide receiver Amari Cooper for the two-point conversion to tie the game. Richard finished with three rushes for 84 yards and one touchdown while Cooper led the Raiders in receiving with six catches for 137 yards.
It only took Brees two minutes to lead the team back down the field to take the lead, finding running back Travaris Cadet for the touchdown on linebacker Malcolm Smith. But that's when Carr found his groove, leading the Raiders to his sixth comeback win of his career, and starting the Raiders out 1-0.
The Raiders will return home next week to take on the Atlanta Falcons at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.