NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 1 PFF ReFocused: Las Vegas Raiders 34, Carolina Panthers 30

In a battle between two of the league’s top young running backs, Las Vegas Raiders second-year weapon Josh Jacobs emerged victorious behind 139 total yards and three touchdowns. 

While Christian McCaffrey put up 150 total yards and two touchdowns in the contest, it wasn't enough to propel the new-look Carolina Panthers to their first win in the Rhule-Brady era.

[Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.]

Story of the game

The Panthers' top priority in the offseason was to beef up their defense, and they did so by using all of their 2020 NFL Draft picks to bolster that side of the ball. However, it appears the 31st-ranked run defense from 2019 still has a long way to go after Jacobs’ three-touchdown performance. 

The defensive woes were not felt solely by the Panthers, as neither defense could buy a stop in this matchup. The Raiders punted on their opening series but then scored on five consecutive drives. The Panthers saw similar success and did not punt in the first half.

Outside of a few plays, both quarterbacks mostly stuck to their conservative nature. Derek Carr posted an average depth of target of 5.8 yards, while Teddy Bridgewater averaged 7.6 yards in depth of target over the first three quarters before being forced to throw the ball downfield more in the fourth quarter.

Jacobs is clearly the focal point of the Raiders' offense, both as a rusher and now as a receiver. He had four catches for 46 yards — both career-highs.

Sep 13, 2020; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (11) attempts to make the catch as Carolina Panthers safety Tre Boston (33) defends in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Watch

Henry Ruggs III performed relatively well in his Raiders debut, tying Darren Waller for the team lead in targets in the first half. His biggest highlight came on a 45-yard gain for his first career reception. Despite fighting through a knee injury, Ruggs led the Raiders with 55 receiving yards.

The Panthers featured three rookie starters on defense. Former All-American Derrick Brown performed fairly well in his debut, batting down two passes at the line of scrimmage and getting one of the six tackles for loss or no gain among Panthers defenders. Rookie defensive backs Jeremy Chinn and Troy Pride Jr. posted 13 combined tackles.

Raiders rookie wideout Bryan Edwards also made his debut, who saw the field on 46 of their 61 offensive snaps. Chinn, Pride and Brown were all on the field for over 40 defensive snaps for the Panthers. Damon Arnette was the lone Raiders rookie defender to receive any playing time — playing 47 snaps. 

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