And although the visiting team scored both the first points — a field goal from Will Lutz — and the first touchdown — from Alvin Kamara — the Raiders’ empire struck back to begin life in Nevada with a 34-24 win, giving them a 2-0 record for the 2020 season.
During the Raiders’ years in Oakland — they did play in Los Angeles between 1982-1994 as well — their home stadium, the Oakland Coliseum, was routinely one of the most difficult places to visit for opposition teams, with its raucous fans and old school set up.
The news of the relocation to Las Vegas understandably wasn’t popular with a large portion of the Raiders fanbase, but the team hasn’t spared any expense when it comes to building their new home in the desert.
It’s estimated the stadium could generate $620 million annually while creating 6,000 permanent jobs in the area.
And while the Raiders would have preferred to unveil the new stadium to a full capacity of fans, supporters weren’t allowed to enter due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Carol Davis, the late wife of former Raiders owner Al Davis and mother of current owner Mark Davis, lit the Al Davis Memorial Torch for the first time ahead of the first regular-season NFL game played in Las Vegas.
Although the team quickly fell into a 17-7 deficit to the Saints, three touchdowns throws from quarterback Derek Carr helped propel the Raiders to the perfect start to life in the “Death Star.” Daniel Carlson hit a 54-yard field goal to put the game out of reach with 1:05 remaining.
“I’m happy for our city … A lot of people have been out of work for a while,” Carr said afterwards.
“Hopefully tonight they can turn the TV on and get a little bit of a smile on their face. And that means something … Hopefully there are some young kids that were inspired here in the Vegas area and could put a smile on their face while craziness is still going on.”
Despite the array of offensive talent on the field for the Raiders, it was fullback Alec Ingold who scored the Raiders’ first touchdown in Las Vegas on a three-yard pass in the second quarter.
The moment of the evening came in the second quarter after wide receiver Zay Jones caught a 15-yard touchdown from Carr to cut the Saints’ lead to just three points in the first half.
In true 2020 fashion, Jones and his teammates imitated the act of applying hand sanitizer before all celebrating with a big hug.
Jill Martin contributed to this report.