Derek Carr feels at home in Las Vegas, leads Raiders to upset win in home opener

When the Raiders broke ground on their stadium in Las Vegas more than two years ago, quarterback Derek Carr vowed to take the first snap in it. On Monday night, Carr led the team to a surprising 34-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints in their first game inside Allegiant Stadium.

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The 29-year-old completed 28 of his 38 pass attempts for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Twelve of those passes went to tight end Darren Waller, who finished the game with a touchdown and a team-high 103 receiving yards.

Many viewed the Raiders win as an upset, considering the Saints were the favorite in the game as well as one of the top teams expected to challenge for the NFC title. Some even called it the “signature win of the Jon Gruden era.”

After the game, Carr literally put his signature on the stadium. When he spoke to the media, he made it clear how much the win meant to him and hoped it could provide some joy to his new hometown during such a difficult time.

“[Las Vegas] is our town now,” he said in the postgame press conference. “This is our city, and hopefully with everyone especially in the casino business and a lot of churches and things like that — just the things that I know of and other small businesses — a lot of people have been out of work for a while. So hopefully tonight they can turn the TV on and get a little bit of a smile on their face, you know what I’m saying? And that means something to me.”

As he gets accustomed to his new town, Carr will continue to be open about his faith in Christ. He nearly became a pastor instead of playing in the NFL, and while living in the Bay Area he occasionally gave sermons at churches, like at Brave Church in February soon after the passing of Kobe Bryant.

“You’ve been offered this free gift of salvation,” Carr said during the sermon. “You’ve been offered this free gift of God the Father, of Jesus Christ, to live in your heart and live in your life, to clean out the stuff that doesn’t need to be in it. Because if you continue to let that stuff fester, let me tell you what’s going to happen. You’re going to keep going month after month, year after year, until you find yourself at a place that is going to be so hard to get up from. The only thing you’re going to be able to do is turn to God.”

The win over the Saints gives the Raiders their first 2-0 start since 2017. Should Las Vegas defeat the New England Patriots on Sunday, it will be the first time the franchise began a season with three straight victories since 2002.

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