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Raiders beat Broncos 17-16: Breaking down the victory

We look at the keys to a Week 1 Las Vegas win

Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos
Jimmy Garoppolo
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Well, Week 1 couldn’t have gone any more perfect for the Las Vegas Raiders. Not only did they beat the host Denver Broncos for the seventh straight time, They were the only team in the AFC West to win this week,

Let’s look at some keys of the game:

Jimmy G. gets it done:

Jimmy Garoppolo was who he is in his Raiders’ debut. He wasn’t flashy. He wasn’t dominant. But he was efficient and came through when he was needed and yes, he won. That’s the way he does things. Garoppolo, who was given good protection and who was not sacked, was four-of-five on the game-winning touchdowns drive in the fourth quarter and he made plays (with his arm and legs) on the game’s final drive as Las Vegas iced the game. He was 20-of-26 for 200 yards and two touchdown and one interception in the win. That’s him.

Defense does enough:

The Las Vegas defense was sort of like its quarterback in this game. It wasn’t flashy. But it did enough to win. Yes, the defense had some leaks, but it held Denver to three points in the second half and made some timely stops. It will be interesting to see how this unit reacts to a tougher offense when the Raiders travel to Buffalo in Week 2.

Happiness in fourth quarter:

We all know Josh McDaniels’ first season in Las Vegas was infamous for blown leads. This time, it was Denver, though, which blew the lead this time. Maybe this team will be more like the 2021 Raiders than the 2022 Raiders and be able to win and get it done when it matters the most.

Jacobs not huge factor:

2022 NFL rushing yardage king Josh Jacobs has been a Bronco killer since joining the Silver and Black in 2019. Yet, Jacobs, who was fresh after not reporting to the team until late August, had just 48 yard son 19 carries Sunday. I wouldn’t worry that it’s a sign of a tough season for him. He will be fine.

Too many penalties:

This was an ugly win (but that’s fine). Yet, the Raiders must clean up their act. They were penalized 10 times for 97 yards (Denver was flagged 10 times for 83 yards). Six of the Raiders’ penalties gave Denver first downs, including on a Russell Wilson fumble and a roughing the punter. That stuff has to be fixed.

Starting wide receivers make impact;

Free-agent wide receiver Jakobi Meyers made a big impact before getting hurt in the fourth quarter. He may have a concussion. The former New England Patriot had nine catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns. Star Raiders’ receiver Davante Adams had 66 yards on six catches and made some key receptions late in the game. The only other Raiders’ receiver to catch a pass was DeAndre Carter, who had 1 catch. Hunter Renfrow, who signed a two-year $32 million contract extension last year, had no catches. it will be interesting to see if the coaching staff starts using Renfrow.


Four of the Raiders’ nine draft picks played Sunday — first-round pick, defensive end Tyree Wilson, second-round pick, tight end Michael Mayer, third-round pick, defensive tackle Byron Young and fourth-round pick, cornerback Jakorian Bennett. Mayer started over free-agent veteran Austin Hooper, so the Notre Dame product may be Darren Waller’s replacement as a rookie. He didn’t have any receptions Sunday. Bennett started as well. He struggled at times, but showed ability. Five draft picks (including third-round pick, wide receiver Tre Tucker) were inactive Sunday, which was a bit surprising.

Nice start:

Denver first-year head coach Sean Payton tried to make a big splash by attempting an onside kick (Bringing back memories of his Super Bowl success with New Orleans) on the opening kickoff. It worked, but the Broncos were called for touching the ball just before it traveled 10 yards. The Raiders got the ball at the Denver 44-yard line ended up scoring a short pass from Garoppolo to Meyers to take a 7-0 lead.

Five new defensive starters:

The Raiders started five new players on defense. They were defensive tackle John Jenkins, defensive end Jerry Tillery (playing for the inactive Chandler Jones), linebacker Robert Spillane, Bennett and safety Marcus Epps. Jenkins, Spillane and Epps were free agent additions, Bennett was a draft pick Tillery was signed late last season and is usually a defensive tackle. Roderic Teamer replaced Trevon Moehrig at safety to start the second half. Moehrig, a third-year player, had a thumb injury.

Offensive line:

Last year, the Raiders tinkered with their offensive line virtually all of last season. Let’s see it is happens again.

Jermaine Eluemunor held off second-year player Thayer Munford at right tackle and free-agent addition Greg Van Roten started, as expected, at right guard. Munford did play some in some jumbo packages and replaced Eluemunor in the second quarter and they rotated so it may be a thing again.