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The Las Vegas Raiders’ rebuilt defense was anything but stingy, let alone dominant, in its season opener at the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

“We had a big pass interference penalty,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said ruefully. “We blow a coverage. We lose the lead.”

“Today,” added safety Johnathan Abram, “was a very sloppy performance on the defense’s part … We can’t have that moving forward. We’ve got to come out fast and finish strong.”

And this from defensive end Clelin Ferrell: “At the end of the day, man, when the game was on the line, you’ve got to block all the out. Just line up and go.”

Indeed, the Raiders’ defense stepped up when it mattered most. Ferrell and linebacker Raekwon McMillan stuffed Panthers fullback Alex Armah on fourth-and-1 for no gain with 1:23 to play to secure the Raiders’ first win of their Las Vegas engagement, 34-30, in a game that saw seven lead changes.

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