Quarterback Derek Carr
The Oakland Raiders open up the 2016 regular season on the road Sunday afternoon at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, squaring off against Drew Brees and the Saints.
Veteran tackle Austin Howard was ruled out of Sunday's contest by Head Coach Jack Del Rio following Friday's practice and was inactive for the matchup against the Saints.
The other five inactive players who were announced pregame were quarterback Connor Cook, cornerback Dexter McDonald, cornerback Antonio Hamilton, guard Vadal Alexander, and tight end Mychal Rivera.
The Raiders won the toss and elected to defer to the second half.
With the Saints facing a 3rd and 10 on their opening series, linebacker Bruce Irvin rushed around the edge and forced a Drew Brees fumble that was recovered by defensive lineman Jihad Ward.
The Raiders weren't able to find the end zone, but Sebastian Janikowski was able to connect from 47 yards out to give the Silver and Black a 3-0 lead with 12:23 left in the first quarter.
The Saints were able to respond, marching down the field with Brees in command. However, with the team deep in Raiders territory and facing a 3rd and 8, Denico Autry burst through the defensive line, pressuring Brees and forcing the quarterback to throw the ball away.
Wil Lutz connected from 42 yards out, and tied the game at 3-3 with 6:31 left in the opening frame.
After getting the ball back, Carr engineered an impressive, seven-play, 91-yard touchdown drive in just under five minutes.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper was heavily involved in the action, hauling in two passes from Carr on the drive for 69 yards.
Running back Latavius Murray added the punctuation mark to the drive, rumbling over left guard for a six-yard touchdown. Janikowski added the PAT to give the Raiders a 10-3 lead with 1:48 left in the first quarter.
Brees and the Saints offense provided some fireworks on the first drive of the second quarter, en route to tying up the game again.
The big play on the drive came in the form of a pass from Brees to wide receiver Willie Snead IV which was good for a gain of 49 yards.
Snead later capped the drive with a one-yard reception, and after the PAT was converted, the score was evened at 10-10 with 11:57 left in the second quarter.
After getting the ball back, the Raiders drive stalled, and Marquette King was forced to punt for the first time in the game.
Brees and the Saints offense looked impressive on the ensuing possession, marching 80 yards on nine plays to take the lead over the Silver and Black, finding the end zone on a 15-yard pass from Brees to wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
As the teams return to the locker room, the Raiders trail the Saints 17-10 but will receive the ball to start the second half.
Through the first 30 minutes of action, both quarterbacks have been impressive; Carr is 12 of 16 for 137 yards, and Brees is 15 of 24 for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
INJURY UPDATE: After leaving the game in the final minutes of the first half due to injury, tackle Menelik Watston is questionable to return with a groin injury.
The Saints found the end zone in dramatic fashion on their second drive of the half, as Brees connected with Cooks for a 98-yard touchdown.
After the PAT was converted, the Saints held a 24-10 lead over the Raiders with 7:52 left in the third quarter.
The Raiders needed to answer, and while they weren't able to find the end zone, Janikowski was able to connect on a 33-yard field goal to bring the score to 24-13 with 3:11 left in the third quarter.
INJURY UPDATE: Tackle Matt McCants -- who was called in to action after Watson's injury -- has also left the game with a knee injury. His return is questionable.
The Saints missed a 50-yard field goal attempt in the early stages of the fourth quarter, and Carr and the Raiders offense were able to take full advantage.
Following the miss, Carr quickly engineered a five-play drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown run by fullback Jamize Olawale.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio elected to go for two after the touchdown, and while the team wasn't able to convert, the touchdown brought the score to 24-19 with 11:57 left in regulation.
The Saints answered in short order, as another Lutz field goal – this one good from 20 yards out – extended the New Orleans lead to 27-19 with 8:42 left in the fourth quarter.
Welcome home, Jalen Richard.
After the Raiders got the ball back, Richard – a Louisiana native – took a routine handoff from Carr before bursting through the offensive line and galloping 75 yards for the score.
Down just two points after the touchdown, Del Rio once again elected to go for two, and this time it was successful, as Carr found Cooper in the end zone.
With the touchdown and the conversion, the Raiders tied the game at 27-27 with 8:38 left in the game.
The tie did not last for long as Brees answered right back, throwing another touchdown, this one to running back Travaris Cadet. After the PAT, the Saints went back ahead 34-27 with 6:07 left in the game.
Carr and the offense went right back to work, as the third-year quarterback masterfully engineered an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was punctuated by a 10-yard catch by Seth Roberts.
Del Rio had no interest in playing for the tie, and after the score, elected to go for two.
With the Superdome at its most raucous, Carr dropped back and threw a fade route to Crabtree. Crabtree was able to wall off the defender, and haul in the pass giving the Silver and Black a one-point lead with less than a minute left in the game.
Brees was able to get the Saints in position to attempt a 61-yard field goal for the win, but Lutz missed the kick wide left, and the Raiders left New Orleans with a 35-34 win.