I hope at least all the noise about Antonio Brown gave you enough to keep you occupied while the season was approaching. I know the wait can be excruciating at time, what with the long NFL offseason and the Raiders literally being the last team to play a game (well, and the Broncos, of course). But play they did and after the long wait, Raiders fans were not disappointed.
The Raiders scored a touchdown on their first drive, then scored another in the second quarter and it was the third quarter before the Broncos could even get on the board. Even then it was a field goal after a sack.
Near the end of the third quarter, the Broncos added another field goal to make it a one score game at 14-6. The two teams would each put up a touchdown and a field goal in the fourth to keep it a one-score game late, but the Raiders were able to pick up a couple first downs and kneel out the clock to take the 24-16 win. There were many top performances along the way.
The discussion after the game was about how efficient the Raiders offense was. How there were no sacks allowed, how they functioned at a high level as many were skeptical they would with the Antonio Brown exit just days prior. Carr deserves credit for all of this. He executed the game plan to perfection. His passes were just about perfect. Even his incompletions looked good. By the way, of his incompletions, two were batted down by defenders and another was a drop.
That first drive saw Carr throw two passes on ropes; one to Darren Waller up the left sideline and one fit into a tight window to Tyrell Williams for the touchdown.
The second scoring drive early in the second quarter, Carr dropped back and launched a beautiful bomb on to Tyrell Williams on a post pattern and Williams didn’t need to break stride for a 43-yard strike. Later in the drive, Carr sidestepped some pressure and threw a dart to Hunter Renfrow to put the team in first and goal at the 2-yard line. Jacobs leapt in on the next play for the score.
Early in the fourth quarter, with the Raiders holding onto a one-score lead, Carr dropped back on third and 6 and threw perhaps his most impressive pass of the day. He shot a laser over the middle to Tyrell Williams who was between two defenders. The pass went just over the near defender and into Williams’ hands for 24 yards. They were again in first and goal and again Jacobs went for the touchdown on the next play.
Carr finished 22 of 26 for 259 yards and 1 touchdown. Most importantly he showed more poise in the pocket than he had at any point in probably the past two seasons.
With AB out, it was time for Ty to show that he was the number one receiver on this team. And did he ever. His first catch of the game was an 8-yard touchdown on the opening drive. The second drive didn’t lead to a score, but it saw Williams make a catch for 15 yards before a Rodney Hudson holding penalty stalled the drive.
The next drive Williams showed his burst. He took a few of his long strides and was behind his defender where Carr put it in the air. All Williams had to do was keep running and track the ball in. He ran under the pass and hauled it in over his shoulder for the 43-yard gain.
We talk about that 24-yard pass from Carr being a laser shot, but it also required tremendous concentration on Williams’ part to catch it with defenders in his face and over his back. He showed great focus and big play ability on that catch leading to another touchdown. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s one touchdown BY Williams and two touchdowns set UP by big time catches from him.
Then after being partially responsible for all three of the Raiders touchdowns, it was Williams who caught the pass that ended the game. Carr looked right and then quickly turned left and threw out into the flat for Williams who ran ten yards for the first down to allow the Raiders to run the clock out and secure the win.
Quite an NFL debut for the Raiders’ first round back. Jacobs had 85 yards on 23 carries and over 100 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns. The factoid everyone is throwing out there is that it’s the first such debut since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001. But I’m not big into stats, so let’s look at how it played out in the game.
If you like stats, you might question his 3.7 yards per carry. That stat doesn’t mean much when you consider Jacobs was often given the ball in short yardage situations. If you need one yard and he gets you two yards, that’s a good run, regardless of the average. If, in the case of his first touchdown, you need two yards and he gives you the touchdown, well, he’s done his job.
On the Raiders second scoring drive, Jacobs was twice given the ball in third and one and he got them the first down both times with a 5-yard run and a 3-yard run. Then he was handed the ball in first and goal from the two-yard line and he leapt over the pile for the score. That’s three huge carries for ten yards -- 3.3 yards per carry.
The next scoring drive, he showed his game as a receiver first. Carr dropped one off to him and Jacobs raced for 28 yards. Three plays later, the Raiders were in first and goal at the 4-yard line. They gave it to Jacobs who went through the right guard gap into the end one for the score.
The final scoring drive was set up by a big kick return. From there they fed Jacobs to run clock and stay in scoring range. He picked up the first down on two carries and the Raiders added a field goal. And finally, with the time running down, they gave Jacobs the ball and he ran off the right side for 13 yards to end it. Victory formation.
No player had a multiple sack game for the Raiders last season. They had 13 sacks total. Mayowa had 2.0 sacks in this game all his own.
Entering the second quarter, the Broncos were down 7-0. A big third down completion and a bogus illegal contact penalty would move them into Raiders territory at the 45-yard line. They would get no farther. In third and 12, Mayowa came on the rush and sacked Flacco for a ten-yard loss to put them back in their own side of the field and force the punt.
At the half the Raiders were up 14-0. The Broncos would need to rally to try and claw back into it. And they did, opening up the second half with a drive that put them in first and goal at the six. Two stops and they were in third and goal at the six and Mayowa came around the edge to sack Joe Flacco to force them to settle for a field goal instead.
His two sacks were potentially worth ten points. The Raiders won by eight.
Every time the Broncos ran the ball or throw the ball short over the middle, Burfict was looking to send them the message ‘don’t do that.’ The second play of the game for the Broncos, he came up to help lay the wood on failed screen attempt.
The next possession started with him stuffing a run for no gain. A few plays later, he came up the middle on the blitz to sack Joe Flacco. Unfortunately the sack was wiped away by a bogus illegal contact penalty on Johnathan Abram. But anytime you can put a hit on the QB, it’s a good thing. The next play, there was Burfict on another run stop and the Broncos went no where on the drive that wasn’t gifted to them by the officials.
The final drive of the first half by the Broncos, Flacco threw a short pass over the middle to Courtland Sutton and he was met immediately by Burfict who laid a hard hit on him. Sutton was slow to get up from that and limped off the field.
To begin the second half, the Broncos drove down to the 6-yard line in first and goal. First play was a run that Burfict said nope and stopped at the line for no gain. They would get no closer and settle for a field goal. Message sent and received.
As Derek Carr said after the game; everybody is rooting for Waller. He gave them plenty to cheer for Monday night. His first catch came on the first drive for 11 yards. The next play, he streaked up the left sideline and Carr threw for him. He high-pointed the ball perfectly and made a masterful catch for 25 yards. It put the Raiders at the Denver 16-yard line and three plays later, they were in the end zone for an opening drive touchdown.
The second drive, the Raiders were quickly in third and four. Carr went back to Waller for a 7-yard first down catch. They didn’t score on that drive, but when they got the ball back to start the second quarter, they would go for another touchdown. Waller had catches of six and seven yards on that drive.
He would finish the game with a team-leading 7 catches for 70 yards. And he added a big block on the final run play of the game to help spring Josh Jacobs for a 13-yard gain to end it.
Kolton Miller, Trent Brown
To be clear, neither of them had perfect games. Miller in particular was still not great in the run game and he was responsible for one of Carr’s four incompletions because of a failed cut block attempt that led to Bradley Chubb batting down the ball.
What they did – whether it was partially the quick passes Carr was making or not – was keep Chubb and Von Miller from laying a finger on Carr. Some of Carr’s passes were deeper downfield and he had the time he needed to complete them. So, Miller and Brown must be acknowledged for their part in that.
When Gruden was asked about the play of his tackles, he is quick to mention the play of the two backup guards. The tackles also get extra credit for that because they must work in tandem with those guards and in both instances they are lining up next to someone they had barely practiced with until very recently. These linemen depend on each other a lot and they held up well.
Maxx Crosby – Finished tied for second on the team with 6 combined tackles (3 solo). He also batted a pass down which for some reason the box score doesn’t give him credit.
Dwayne Harris – Had a 72-yard kick return that set up the Raiders final score on a field goal. The last time he faced the Broncos he had that 99-yard kick return touchdown. He is the Bronco killer.
Clelin Ferrell – Had his first sack in his first game as a pro. It was mainly because Joe Flacco held onto the ball for a millennia, but still, good work on Ferrell’s part to stay with it and finish it off. He also batted a pass down at the line.