For weeks the Las Vegas Raiders coaching staff and players harped on the need to execute the game plan. Do all the little things right and it’ll eventually lead to big things.
he Silver & Black were able to do a bit of that this past Sunday and it culminated in a 32-23 victory over the visiting Denver Broncos — the first W in Josh McDaniels’ tenure as Raiders boss.
“I thought we had our best week of practice. I thought we had our best week of preparation,” Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr said after the game. “Guys staying extra, staying after, getting there early, whatever it may be, to make sure they were on their assignments. I thought that was our best week of that. So, ultimately, it led to a win. It doesn’t promise it, but it shows us that it’s a recipe that works.”
While Carr’s assessment that doing all the little things right doesn’t always promise sound results, the Raiders inability to execute properly from Week 1 up until the clash with the Broncos was so apparent that all Las Vegas needed to do was be dialed in and the results would speak for themselves. And that was quite a loud and profound result.
Case-in-point: Look at the 3rd-and-1 run in the fourth quarter. With 2:53 left on the clock and a boisterous Broncos faithful in Allegiant Stadium beckoning their team to make a defensive stand as the Raiders held a precarious 25-23 lead, execution was a must for McDaniels’ squad — because this wasn’t a routine handoff and run. Carr lined up under center with running backs Josh Jacobs — as the fullback — and Zamir White lined up behind him. That stands out because McDaniels dialed up this play weeks prior on a similar short-yardage situation and it was Jacobs who got the ball on a fullback dive and a first down. Denver appeared ready to defend this play as it stacked the box to the max. Instead of giving Jacobs the rock — who had already churned out over 100 yards on the ground at that point — Carr pitched the ball over to White who dusted Denver edge rusher Bradley Chubb. White not only picked up the first down, but got a timely block from tight end Darren Waller to get a big chunk 22-yard gain to set up Jacobs’ game-sealing touchdown run.
That play is a microcosm of what doing your job does for the Raiders. Carr and the offensive line sold a run up the gut, Waller (who was sent in motion) took care of his the safety while Davante Adams took the cornerback guarding him up field. The pitch and catch from Carr to White was seamless and any momentum the Broncos had disappeared like the blur No. 35 was when he got the blocks. A lot could’ve gone wrong on that play but it all went right for the Raiders. If something went amiss, we’d be talking about why pitch the ball backwards instead of just running it right up the gut.
For once, the Raiders righted wrongs and had both the mindset for success and the execution to back it up.
“Josh (McDaniels) called us up and he reminded us, he said to the offense and defense in a team meeting, he told us, ‘You should want the burden to finish the game.’ Not hoping that someone else does their thing, or they fix the problem, whatever. Just like, ‘Hey, whatever the game asked for, if it’s our turn, do our job.’” Carr said of the Raiders mindset on offense after Denver cut the advantage to two points. “And so, the fact that he talked about it, he called us up beforehand to remind us, and then when we went out there, we were able to go get points, like that feels good. And I know it feels good for Josh because that’s what he’s preaching to us. I guarantee when we turn on [(the film) you’re going to see 11 guys all doing their job and doing it the right way. That’s only going to help us going forward, if we can keep that mindset.”
Let’s hit the quick slants as fast and thorough as the Raiders dashed the Broncos’ hopes:
—Jacobs galloped for 144 yards on 28 carries (robust 5.1 average and a long of 43 yards) and two touchdowns. Despite Denver’s best efforts to lasso the Raiders bell cow back, Jacobs displayed bounce, power and determination. Denver’s attempt to grab Jacobs’ jersey but the Raiders tailback powering through for a 43-yard tote was indicative of Las Vegas’ ground dominance.
—Not to be outdone, Carr took off to move the chains and churned out 40 yards on seven carries (a long of 20). The Raiders quarterback scrambling is something that should happen more often as its another item opposing defenses must account for.
—Raiders pass rush Maxx Crosby was a man possessed in the second half as he terrorized Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. Mad Maxx finished with two sacks, four tackles for loss and four total tackles. He made a mockery of Denver’s offensive line at times and was surprisingly left unblocked on some plays.
—Cornerback Amik Robertson was another Raider defender who was lights out. Taking umbrage to Denver’s Jerry Jeudy giving him a “too short” hand gesture, the 5-foot-8 cornerback played angry and it resulted in a performance to remember. Robertson was a fierce tackler and had the 68-yard scoop & score — the first Raiders defensive touchdown since 2019.
—Raiders wide receiver Mack Hollins continues to display his elite special teams contributions. The gunner showcased speed and concentration on an AJ Cole punt as he chased the ball down, leapt and slapped the ball backwards to allow safety Matthias Farley to down the ball at the one-yard line.