The typical Vegas glitz was missing from the Raiders’ opening of their new “Death Star” stadium in their new city. There were no fans on hand because of the coronavirus pandemic. The only crowd noise was fake. Even team owner Mark Davis was not in attendance, having vowed not to be at a home game in person until his franchise’s followers can join him inside Allegiant Stadium.

Even so, Davis’s team made the most of its first game in Las Vegas. Quarterback Derek Carr threw three touchdown passes Monday night, and the Raiders beat the New Orleans Saints, 34-24.

The victory showed a national television audience the progress the Raiders are making toward contender status in Year 3 of Jon Gruden’s return to coaching.

“There’s a lot of sentimental great vibes in our locker room. . . . We hope we can continue to improve,” Gruden said after the game. “We think we’ve got a good, young team. We’ve got a great stadium. I know that. We’ve got a great fan base and they’re out in the street proving it. I just hope they wear their masks.”

The Raiders, who relocated from Oakland to Las Vegas after last season, improved to 2-0. They went 4-12 in 2018 in the first season of Gruden’s second act and 7-9 last season. But this has the look of a far better team. The Raiders scored 24 straight points Monday to turn a 17-7 deficit into a 31-17 lead, then held on from there.

“We have a really good team,” Carr told ESPN afterward. “It’s easy when something like that happens against a really good team to go back into the old ways of, ‘Woe is me. Here we go again.’ That’s not this team at all. I’m proud of our guys because this is a different group. We believed it in the beginning of the year. No one thought we’d be 2-0 right now. But I’m proud of our guys.”

Kicker Daniel Carlson’s 54-yard field goal with just more than a minute left sealed the outcome after the Saints had pulled within seven. Gruden showed great confidence in his kicker, given that a miss from such long range would have given the Saints terrific field position to try for a tying touchdown.

“That took a lot of you-know-what from Coach Gruden,” Carr said.

Carr had touchdown passes to fullback Alec Ingold, wide receiver Zay Jones and tight end Darren Waller. He completed 28 of 38 passes for 282 yards. Waller had a dozen catches for 103 yards. Running back Jalen Richard provided a 20-yard touchdown dash in the fourth quarter. Top tailback Josh Jacobs ran for 88 yards, operating behind a patchwork offensive line battling injuries.

Carr celebrated the first Vegas triumph by telling ESPN: “I’m going to go sign the wall right now.” Soon after, he posted a photo on Twitter of that “1st win” signature on gray concrete.

The Saints, playing without standout wide receiver Michael Thomas, fell to 1-1. Tailback Alvin Kamara ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns while adding 95 receiving yards. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 312 yards and a touchdown on 26-for-38 passing. Tight end Jared Cook had a touchdown catch, and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith had five catches for 86 yards.

“We had a lot of mental errors,” Brees said in a postgame video conference. “It felt like we were not playing as fast and maybe just as sure and confident. . . . We know what wins football games and we know what makes it very, very difficult to win football games. And obviously we made way too many mistakes out there in order to win that game.”

Brees faulted himself for throwing an interception that led to a Raiders field goal. He said the Saints have been Inconsistent on offense and need to be more efficient.

“Are we totally in sync right now? No, we’re not,” Brees said. “We’re not even close to what we are capable of. Not even close. We did some good things tonight early on. But it just wasn’t enough for the few opportunities we had. We needed to take better advantage of them.”

He was asked about the notion that he is, at age 41, in decline as a downfield passer.

“My job is to execute the offense,” Brees said. “I’ve always evaluated myself on being a great decision-maker. And so at the end of the day, I’m going to throw the ball to the open guy, throw the ball down the field, score points, help us win football games. So that’s my job. My job is not to have the most air yards or throw the ball down the field the most or anything like that. My job is to help us win. My job is to put everybody around me in the best position to succeed. And that’s all I’m focused on.”

September 21, 2020 at 11:36 PM EDT
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Raiders beat Saints in first game in Vegas

By Mark Maske

The typical Vegas glitz was missing from the Raiders’ opening of their new “Death Star” stadium in their new city. There were no fans on hand due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The only crowd noise was fake. Even Raiders owner Mark Davis was not in attendance, having vowed not to be at a home game in person until his franchise’s followers can join him in Allegiant Stadium.

Even so, Davis’s team made the most of its first game in Las Vegas. Quarterback Derek Carr threw three touchdown passes and the Raiders beat the New Orleans Saints, 34-24, Monday night.

The Raiders, who relocated from Oakland to Vegas after last season, improved to 2-0 in Year 3 of Jon Gruden’s return to coaching. They scored 24 straight points to turn a 17-7 deficit into a 31-17 lead, then held on from there.

Daniel Carlson’s 54-yard field goal with just more than a minute left sealed the outcome after the Saints had pulled to within seven points.

Carr had touchdown passes to fullback Alec Ingold, wide receiver Zay Jones and tight end Darren Waller. He completed 28 of 38 passes for 282 yards. Waller had a dozen catches for 103 yards. Running back Jalen Richard provided a 20-yard touchdown dash in the fourth quarter.

The Saints, playing without standout wide receiver Michael Thomas, fell to 1-1. Tailback Alvin Kamara ran for two touchdowns. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 312 yards and a touchdown on 26-for-38 passing. Tight end Jared Cook had a touchdown catch, and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith had five catches for 86 yards. (Final score: Raiders 34, Saints 24)

September 21, 2020 at 11:30 PM EDT
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Long field goal probably seals win for Raiders

By Mark Maske

Raiders Coach Jon Gruden really trusts his kicker. And Daniel Carlson delivered with a 54-yard field goal to, most likely, seal the outcome, when a miss could have given the Saints great field position to try for a tying touchdown. (Raiders 34, Saints 24, 1:05 left in the fourth quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 11:17 PM EDT
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Saints move fast, cut deficit in half

By Mark Maske

The Saints struck quickly to get back to within a touchdown. Tailback Alvin Kamara scored on a three-yard run as the Saints covered 67 yards in a little more than three minutes. (Raiders 31, Saints 24, 4:33 left in the fourth quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 11:11 PM EDT
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Jalen Richard’s touchdown run adds to Raiders’ lead

By Mark Maske

The Raiders are pulling away from the Saints. Tailback Jalen Richard, involved in a fumble on a botched pitchout earlier in the fourth quarter, ran for a 20-yard touchdown, sprinting to the end zone along the right sideline on a third-and-10 play. The Raiders have scored 24 straight points. The Saints trail by two touchdowns and are down to one timeout after a failed instant replay challenge on that Raiders’ drive. (Raiders 31, Saints 17, 7:43 left in the fourth quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 10:51 PM EDT
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Raiders lose fumble on botched pitchout

By Mark Maske

Just when the Raiders seemed to have taken control of the game, they lost a fumble. Derek Carr and running back Jalen Richard missed connections on a pitchout, and the Saints recovered the loose football. They take possession at their own 40-yard line. (Raiders 24, Saints 17, 14:06 left in the fourth quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 10:19 PM EDT
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Raiders take first lead on fourth-down touchdown

By Mark Maske

The Raiders have their first lead of the night on a one-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass from Derek Carr to tight end Darren Waller. Carr rolled to his right and found Waller open in the end zone. Tailback Josh Jacobs nearly had lost the football on a second-down carry from the 1-yard line, and Carr had fumbled the snap on the third-down play. (Raiders 24, Saints 17, 9:58 left in the third quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 10:04 PM EDT
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Raiders pull even at halftime in first game in Vegas

By Mark Maske

The Raiders have pulled even with the Saints at 17 in the first game in their “Death Star” stadium in Las Vegas.

A 28-yard field goal by kicker Daniel Carlson as time expired in the half got the Raiders even. They had trailed 10-0 and 17-7. Quarterback Derek Carr threw second-quarter touchdown passes to fullback Alec Ingold and wide receiver Zay Jones.

The Saints got a touchdown run by tailback Alvin Kamara and a touchdown pass by Drew Brees to tight end Jared Cook. Brees threw an interception, leading to the Raiders’ field goal, in a 9-for-18, 136-yard passing half. Wideout Tre’Quan Smith had four catches for 80 yards, with the Saints playing without injured wide receiver Michael Thomas. (Saints 17, Raiders 17 at halftime)

September 21, 2020 at 9:46 PM EDT
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Nicholas Morrow picks off Drew Brees

By Mark Maske

The Raiders have a chance to tie or take the lead at halftime after linebacker Nicholas Morrow intercepted a Drew Brees pass. Brees was under pressure and threw the ball directly to Morrow. The Raiders take possession at the New Orleans 40-yard line. (Saints 17, Raiders 14, 0:48 left in the second quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 9:43 PM EDT
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Derek Carr’s second touchdown pass gets Raiders closer

By Mark Maske

The Raiders are hanging tough in this game. They got to within three points on Derek Carr’s 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Zay Jones. The touchdown came on a third-and-nine play, and Carr has completed all six of his third-down passes in the game. Jones made a nice catch along the sideline in the end zone, managing to stay in bounds while gathering in the low pass. (Saints 17, Raiders 14, 1:44 left in the second quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 9:30 PM EDT
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Drew Brees-to-Jared Cook touchdown increases Saints’ lead

By Mark Maske

Drew Brees hadn’t been particularly accurate with his passing, even while the Saints were building an early lead in this game. He got things going on this drive as the Saints increased their advantage with his six-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jared Cook. (Saints 17, Raiders 7, 5:22 left in the second quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 9:20 PM EDT
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Alec Ingold scores Raiders’ first touchdown in Vegas

By Mark Maske

The Raiders, after being dominated in the opening quarter, are on the board in the second. Fullback Alec Ingold scored the first Raiders touchdown in Vegas, catching a three-yard scoring pass from quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders got moving by getting the ball into the hands of tight end Darren Waller and tailback Josh Jacobs on the drive. (Saints 10, Raiders 7, 8:55 left in the second quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 8:54 PM EDT
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Saints add to lead with Alvin Kamara’s touchdown

By Mark Maske

The Saints, so far, are making it an unpleasant first game in Las Vegas for the Raiders. The Saints added a second-drive touchdown, via a one-yard run by tailback Alvin Kamara, to their opening-drive field goal. Kamara had a 21-yard run earlier on the drive, and wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith provided a 29-yard catch and run on a third-and-eight play. That gave the Saints a first down at the Vegas 4-yard line, and Kamara scored on third down from the 1. Raiders safety Johnathan Abram stayed down on the field on a frightening play on first and goal, when he ran into a TV cart out of bounds while chasing Kamara. But Abram eventually got up and ran off the field, apparently not seriously injured.

Following the touchdown, the Saints added the extra point after first appearing to get a successful two-point conversion, begun closer to the goal line via a Raiders’ penalty, only to have the conversion negated by an illegal-formation penalty. (Saints 10, Raiders 0, 3:51 left in the first quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 8:34 PM EDT
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Raiders’ first-ever Vegas drive results in sack, punt

By Mark Maske

The Raiders’ opening possession in their new stadium and new city wasn’t memorable. They managed one first down, but then quarterback Derek Carr was sacked by blitzing Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins and the Raiders ended up punting. (Saints 3, Raiders 0, 7:58 left in the first quarter)

September 21, 2020 at 8:32 PM EDT
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Saints score first points in Vegas

By Mark Maske

The Saints have the first points of the Raiders’ opening game in Las Vegas. Kicker Wil Lutz connected on a 31-yard field goal to end a nice opening drive for New Orleans. The Saints are playing without injured wide receiver Michael Thomas but had no problem moving the ball. They reached the Vegas 13-yard line but wideout Tre’Quan Smith could not hold on to Drew Brees’s third-and-three pass while absorbing a hit. (Saints 3, Raiders 0, 11:01 left in the first quarter)