Following a two-game losing streak and a week full of bad publicity following the Jon Gruden debacle, the Raiders traveled to Denver with hopes of righting the ship. Both teams mirrored each other heading into Sunday as they began the season 3-0 and faced an early “must-win” scenario to avoid going 3-3.
The Raiders would ultimately prevail 34-24 and improve to 4-2, securing an important road division win against a Broncos team that has shown promise at times this season.
The Raiders looked to make an immediate statement on the opening drive, and they did that in a big way. QB Derek Carr found WR Henry Ruggs streaking down the field for a 48-yard touchdown three minutes into the game, giving the Raiders their first points on an opening drive since Week 11 of last year.
The celebration did not last long, however, as the Broncos answered with a touchdown to WR Tim Patrick, Denver’s first opening drive touchdown since December of 2019. The Raiders would answer with a field goal to put Las Vegas up 10-7.
Near the start of the second quarter, the Broncos would go for it on 4th and short, but QB Teddy Bridgewater ended up throwing his second interception of the season. CB Brandon Facyson jumped a pass intended for TE Noah Fant, giving Las Vegas the ball near midfield.
After picking up a first down, the Raiders were forced to attempt a 43-yard field goal. Daniel Carlson would miss, snapping his streak of 29 straight field goals made inside 50 yards.
For most of the quarter, both teams would continuously trade possessions, each offense quickly getting close to midfield before bogging down and punting the ball away.
The game would swing in a big way towards Las Vegas just before the half. Getting the ball back with 1:02 left on their own 18, Carr went 5 of 5 for 82 yards, including the 31-yard pass to RB Kenyan Drake for a touchdown. Bridgewater would be dropped for a sack by DE Maxx Crosby and DT Quinton Jefferson to close out the half with the Raiders up 17-7.
The Raiders didn’t let halftime curtail the momentum that had swung their way. The defensive pressure continued on Bridgewater as he took a massive hit on third down as he threw a pass that should have been intercepted by safety Tre’von Moehrig.
Las Vegas would quickly extend the lead on the ensuing possession, taking only 1:53 to run four plays with Kenyan Drake capping off the drive, scoring his second touchdown of the day, taking a handoff 18 yards.
The Broncos would show some fire on their next drive, driving down to the red zone for the first time of the game. A close call on an incomplete touchdown pass would force Denver to settle for a field goal, bringing the score to 24-10.
After punting the ball back to Denver, the Broncos looked to get back into the game, but the Las Vegas defense refused to relent. Bridgewater would dive for a first down, only to have the ball punched out by DT Solomon Thomas and recovered by LB Denzel Perryman.
Carr would reciprocate the gift by launching a 42-yard completion to Ruggs on 3rd and 12 to Denver’s 1 yard-line. The drive would be finished off with a touchdown run by RB Josh Jacobs near the end of the 3rd quarter.
The Broncos would not go down without a fight, with Bridgewater finding WR Courtland Sutton for a hard-fought touchdown to keep the game a little closer. The following drive by the Raiders would see WR Bryan Edwards make a massive 51-yard catch on third down that ended with a field goal to push the score in favor of Las Vegas 34-17.
Denver’s hopes would take a massive hit following a clutch interception by Moehrig on the following drive. The Broncos would score a late touchdown with 1:15 left and recovered the ensuing onside kick to keep things interesting. But in the end, it was too little too late. The Raiders ended their two-game losing streak with their 34-24 victory.
“Great continuity on the offensive staff. Great continuity on the defensive staff,” interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said in a post-game interview. “We haven’t had a problem with effort at all. They just came together today, they put it all together. We were plus four on turnovers and good position in the kicking game,” Coach Bisaccia said in a post game interview. “I thought we did a great job with drives. First drive of the first half. First drive of the second half.”
The Raiders had perhaps their most complete game to date, dominating on both sides of the ball. The offense looked explosive while the defense looked relentless. Coach Bisaccia was sure to credit the continuance among the coaching staff as a major factor for the team’s performance.
The emotion of the day was not lost on the players either. Every player in the post-game press conference was asked about dealing with the emotion of the week while preparing for the Week 6 game against Denver.
“We still have our room of guys, our leaders and now more than ever, we had to step up and be a voice,” Derek Carr said after the game. “With everything that’s going on… there will be a time for the emotions of all of that but now is not the time. If anything it for sure brought us all closer. With talking with the guys in meetings and all that kind of stuff, I’m proud of where we’re at. I’m glad for our organization to get a win. We needed a win bad this week.”
Next Week vs. Philadelphia
Las Vegas will host the Philadelphia Eagles in a Week 7 tilt. The Eagles will be coming off of a longer week of rest following a 22-28 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football. While Philadelphia has only won two games this season and their offense and defense currently rank 20th and 24th in yardage, respectively, Jalen Hurts is a dangerous quarterback who can make plays with his legs as well as his arm.
Rookie DeVonta Smith has been as good as advertised for Philadelphia as well. This Philly offense has too much potential to simply overlook. The defense has looked much improved over the last few weeks, making big plays when needed and relying on turnovers to give their young offense more opportunities.
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