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5 big takeaways from the Las Vegas Raiders 29-23 overtime loss in the home opener

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders

It was a tale of two halves at Allegiant Stadium as the Las Vegas Raiders jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead but the Arizona Cardinals would claw their way back to tie the game with a two-point conversion at the end of regulation to force an extra 10-minute overtime period.

In overtime, the Raiders defense got a fourth down stop.

However, on the ensuing drive quarterback Derek Carr found wide receiver Hunter Renfrow on second-and-10 from the Arizona 39-yard line for a two-yard completion. Unfortunately, Renfrow took a hit and fumbled it for Arizona to pick up the ball and run into the end zone for a touchdown and a 29-23 Raiders loss Sunday afternoon.

Carr said he thought the Raiders were going to finish off the final drive to set up kicker Daniel Carlson like the many times last season.

“I thought we went down, we had a nice run, we hit Hunter. We were moving it down, getting it into Daniel’s range and I thought we had a chance. It’s hard with the way that it went.”

Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr after Week 2 loss

With the growth of where the team is at with head coach Josh McDaniels, it was like one of those games where the Raiders took three steps forward and four steps back.

“You’ve got to learn to play with a lead, you’ve got to learn to play when you’re behind and it’s not the same feeling on the sideline, but you can’t relax and hope we have enough,” McDaniels said. “I didn’t sense that we were like that at halftime, but we certainly didn’t coach and play as well as we could’ve to put it away in the second half.”

Here are 5 big takeaways from the game.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders schedule and game-by-game predictions

Las Vegas Raiders offense becomes more balanced

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There were a lot of good and bad moments for the Raiders throughout the game as a lot of positives were on display in the first half.

Carr threw two touchdowns in the first half as there were four players with at least seven targets, including Renfrow with a team-high 10.

After having 17 targets last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, Davante Adams only recorded two receptions for 12 yards on seven targets and a touchdown.

As a result of the Cardinals’ defense choosing to defend Adams, it meant the Raiders had to use other resources. By taking out Adams, the Raiders were able to go to other pass catchers in wide receivers Renfrow and Mack Hollins as well as tight end Darren Waller.  

“They chose to take Davante away a little bit more. That forced the ball to some other. You saw Mack have some success and Hunter and Darren. So, the defense, like I’ve said, they get a vote and whatever they choose to do, we’ve got to produce against it.”

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels

Renfrow, who had 59 yards, led the team with seven receptions and 10 targets. Hollins led the team with 66 yards en route to recording five receptions on eight targets.

Not only did Hollins have eight targets, but so did Waller, who caught six passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Going into practice this week, the Las Vegas Raiders now have to find the median of who gets a certain number of targets each week.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders standing in Sportsnaut’s NFL power rankings

Setting the table early

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the big things for the Las Vegas Raiders early in the game was scoring on the team’s first offensive drive of the game.

Carr led the Silver and Black on a 15-play, 75-yard drive that lasted almost the game’s first 10 minutes as the 30-year-old connected with Adams for his first touchdown at Allegiant Stadium in a Raiders uniform.

That score set the stage for the first half as Las Vegas scored on each of their four possessions. In the first half, running back Josh Jacobs recorded 11 carries for 42 yards and one catch for 12 yards.

Jacobs also had two more carries that combined for 19 yards, including a 15-yard gain, but was negated by a couple of self-inflicted Raiders penalties.

“I thought we did a decent job in the first half,” McDaniels said. “Josh really ran hard. I thought he did a good job creating some opportunities for himself when things were muddled in the middle.”

Carlson made both of his field goals in the first half with his first kick coming from 32 yards out with 11:40 left in the second quarter and the other from 55 yards out as time expired to close the first half.

Related: Find out where the Las Vegas Raiders rank among NFL defenses

Las Vegas Raiders defensive line gets going early

The first 30 minutes was like the dream scenario of how the Las Vegas Raiders need to play. Score on every drive and get stops.

The Raiders premiere players on defense even get going early, highlighted by the edge rushers of Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby.

The duo each got to Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray twice as Crosby recorded the team’s lone sack.

There were numerous times where Crosby and Jones beat their man and came close to getting to Murray. Both Crosby and Jones used their moves to get past the Arizona tackles, whether it is a spin move or any other directional moves to find the quarterback.

Crosby had four tackles and Jones recorded three tackles.  

The secondary continues to make positive steps

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the Las Vegas Raiders defense giving up 23 points in the second half, the secondary still made the most of their production.

Three different Raiders recorded double-digit tackles, led by outside linebacker Divine Deablo’s game-high 15 tackles.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders rookie outside linebacker Divine Deablo has bright second year aspirtations

Linebacker Jayon Brown had a dozen tackles while cornerback Nate Hobbs had 11 tackles and a game-high nine solo tackles.

One of things that stood out was the ability to record open field tackles as it was shown multiple times from strong safety Johnathan Abram, especially in the rushing attack near the line of scrimmage, as well as free safety Duron Harmon in the secondary.

Harmon’s big play came in overtime when Murray threw a pass to wide receiver Marquise Brown on fourth-and-1 with 5:30 left. Brown caught the ball in the air but before he could gain control on the ground, Harmon laid down a big hit for the ball to come out, giving the Las Vegas Raiders offense an opportunity.

Had that play been successful, the Cardinals would have had first-and-10 inside the red zone.  

Related: Arizona Cardinals pull off epic comeback against Las Vegas Raiders

Second half woes

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders offense was not same in the second half.

For how many plays the defense was not in the field in the first and second quarter, the Raiders defense was on the field for 51 plays in the final 30 minutes of regulation.

“We skipped a lot of third down situations in the first half on the scoring drive,” McDaniels said. “We had a few third-and-longs that we converted in the first half but then in the second half, when you try to live like that, it’s tough to do that on a consistent basis. We’ll have to look what we didn’t do as well in the second half, specifically.”

In the second half and overtime combined, the Raiders had just five first downs.

Carr said every one of his teammates, including those across the league, are going to learn more about themselves two games in as Las Vegas needs to focus on executing not only in game, but in preparations before gameday.

“Everyone tomorrow in the NFL is going to get corrected, no matter how good or bad it went for somebody,” the ninth-year veteran said. “What I’ve learned is you have to take it, not just writing it down, you have to take exactly what they’re saying and do it in practice. If you can do that over time, you get better.

“From where I was my rookie year to where I am now, I’ve trusted that process and I feel like a better player now then I was then. That goes for any player at any position. And it’s not personal. The coach is trying to help the team, help us get better and if you can do it in practice, I think that’s where the improvement comes.”

Next week, the Las Vegas Raiders will look to get their first win on the road when they take on the Tennessee Titans at 10:00 a.m. PT.

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