Panthers drop opener to Raiders

Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey scores ahead of Las Vegas Raiders safety Johnathan Abram during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP/WSPA) — Josh Jacobs ran for 93 yards and three touchdowns, Derek Carr threw for 239 yards and a score and the Las Vegas Raiders hung on to beat the Carolina Panthers 34-30 on Sunday to spoil Matt Rhule’s coaching debut.

Jacobs’ 6-yard run around the right end with 4:14 left put the Raiders ahead for good after they’d surrendered a 12-point fourth quarter lead.

Carolina had a chance to take the lead, but the Panthers handed off to fullback Alex Armah instead of All-Pro Christian McCaffrey on fourth-and-inches at midfield. Armah was stopped at the line, turning the ball over on downs with 1:11 left. McCaffrey racked up 134 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns for Carolina.

After going three-and-out on their first drive, the Raiders scored on five straight possessions to take a 27-15 lead in a game played in front of fewer than 50 guests of the Panthers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Carolina battled back with McCaffrey getting 11 touches for 64 yards on one drive and scoring on a 3-yard run. After one of only three defensive stops by the Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater found Robby Anderson for a 75-yard strike on a blown coverage to take a 30-27 lead.

Bridgewater, who replaced Cam Newton as the starting QB, finished 22 of 34 for 270 yards and one touchdown in his Carolina debut. Anderson, a free agent pickup from the Jets, had six catches for 115 yards.

Carolina’s young secondary struggled at times, with rookie cornerback Tony Pride missing one assignment that resulted in a 45-yard gain for rookie Henry Ruggs III. Later, he allowed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor.

The only onlookers allowed in were about 40 staff and partners of the team, who took in the game from some end-zone seats.

“I told them they should be disappointed, but they certainly shouldn’t be discouraged,” Rhule said after the game. “To lose one of our best defenders early on and have Rasul Douglas, who has only been here for four days, go out there and play to battle back from some early big plays, to fight, scratch and claw to take the lead back at the end of the game, I was proud of the guys. We were just a play away. We said as a team we would get to the fourth quarter and we thought we would have a chance to win in the fourth quarter and we did. I told them we are all disappointed. We are all hurting right now but we need to play some games and find out more about our team and find out how we can improve. So, we will improve, and we will continue to get better. We will be a good team here pretty soon.”

RACIAL JUSTICE

Eight Panthers knelt for the national anthem, including Bridgewater, while nine others raised their first in protest of racial injustice before the game at Bank of America Stadium. The Raiders stood side-by-side for the national anthem with no demonstrations.

Among the other Carolina players who knelt for the anthem were Kawann Short, Anderson, Stephen Weatherly, Yetur Gross-Matos, Pride Jr., Bravvion Roy and Brian Burns. Linebacker Shaq Thompson was among those who raised his first.

Both teams stood earlier for the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

INJURIES

Raiders: Lost both right tackles to injuries with Trent Brown leaving with a calf injury in first quarter and Sam Young in the third quarter with a groin issue.

Panthers: No. 1 cornerback Donte Jackson left with an ankle injury early in the first quarter and did not return. He was replaced by Rasul Douglas.

UP NEXT:

Raiders: host the Saints on Monday night, Sept. 21.

Panthers: visit Buccaneers on Sunday.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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