Nothing like opening the season with a win. It wasn’t always pretty — and the Raiders are well aware of that — but it ended with the Raiders pulling out a 17-16 victory in Denver. And that’s what matters most the W.
However, along the way, there were those who made things more difficult and those who kept the Raiders afloat and ultimately played hero.
This is their stories (bong, bong)
The opening drive was as smooth as it gets. So smooth, in fact, it was hard to believe Jimmy G was taking his first snaps with a new team in an offense he last played in seven years ago. He converted a 4th and one, dropping one in to Davante Adams for 13 yards, scrambled for eight yards on third and seven, and put a bow on it with a touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers in third and goal at the three.
His next pass wouldn’t come until the second quarter and he picked right up where he left off, completing consecutive passes to Meyers for 21 yards and 13 yards. That drive would end with Meyers unable to hold onto a pass Jimmy actually fit between defenders in the back of the end zone. They settled for a field goal and a 10-6 lead.
After that, the Raiders offense went more than two quarters of play without a score. They would get into goal-to-go in the third quarter, but Garoppolo got greedy and ended up throwing a pass into coverage in the end zone that was tipped and intercepted.
This allowed the Broncos to come back and take a 16-10 lead. But late in the fourth quarter, Jimmy G dusted himself off and drove the Raiders for the go-ahead touchdown He completed passes to Davante for 18 yards, Jakobi for 16 yards and Austin Hooper for 20 yards. Then in second and goal from the six, he nailed Jakobi on a slant at the goal line for the score.
The final act was the Raiders getting the ball with five minutes left and draining the clock down. And on third and seven, needing a first down to seal it, Garoppolo scrambled for eight yards to come away with the win.
DE Maxx Crosby
In the second quarter, with the Raiders holding a 10-6 lead, the Broncos drove into field goal range. Then on three consecutive plays, Crosby ended that and then some.
First he was held and still managed to get the tackle for loss (they accepted the penalty). The next play he sacked Russell Wilson. The play after that, he got pressure that forded Wilson to get rid of the ball quickly to his outlet and it resulted in a tackle for loss on a screen. Those plays put the Broncos in third and 34 (!!!) and well out of field goal range.
The Broncos would end up scoring a touchdown just before half time to take a 13-10 lead. Then they would get the ball again to start the third quarter. They would drive into Raiders territory and in first down, Crosby would make the run stuff. Two plays later, they would attempt a 55-yard field goal and miss it wide right.
The Raiders would retake the lead 17-16 late in the fourth, but it was up to the defense to hold onto it. They did that with a three-and-out and, of course, one of those plays Crosby got pressure to force an incompletion.
CB Nate Hobbs
It seems some people forgot how good Nate Hobbs is due to his having played through injuries and being moved all over the secondary last season. He did a fine job of reminding everyone Sunday in Denver.
He led the Raiders in combined tackles (12), solo tackles (8), and tackles for loss (2). Now, leading a team in tackles isn’t always a good thing, especially for a defensive back. Because often it also means giving up a lot of catches. That was not the case with Hobbs.
The nickel corner had three tackles on the Broncos’ opening drive. One on a six-yard catch, one for a loss on a screen pass, and one a run stuff for no gain.
The first Broncos drive of the third quarter, Hobbs got pressure on a blitz to force an incompletion, and then made the tackle on a short catch to bring up fourth down and the Broncos missed the 55-yard field goal attempt.
He would make two more tackles in the game, both on runs for minimal yardage, the second was for a loss to start the Broncos’ final drive which ended in a three-and-out.
Y’all remember now?
WR Jakobi Meyers
While Patrick Surtain II was trying his best to keep Davante Adams under wraps, Jimmy G was having a field day with Jakobi.
Meyers caught both of the Raiders’ touchdowns in the game. He also caught the first two passes of their drive for a field goal for 21 and 13 yards respectively. If he would have made the catch in traffic in the back of the end zone, that might’ve been three touchdown catches for him.
Ultimately he finished with nine catches on ten targets for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
Second on the team with 9 combined tackles was Deablo. And if not for a couple penalties, his day would have been even better.
The first penalty came when he made a fantastic read on a pass in the flat, but seemed to inadvertently (and unnecessarily) grab the face mask on the tackle. It wiped out what would have been a big tackle for loss and turned it into an automatic first down.
Deablo quickly made up for the penalty, however. Two plays later, he *did* make a tackle for loss on a screen pass. Then on third and 34, he made the stop to force the punt.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Broncos would drive into goal-to-go. On second and goal from the five, Russell Wilson threw for the end zone and Deablo swatted down his pass at point blank range. They would settle for a field goal, allowing the Raiders a chance to make the come back.
After the Raiders came back to go ahead 17-16, the first play featured Hobbs and Deablo getting in the backfield to make the tackle for loss.
WR Davante Adams
Surtain gave it his best shot, but he wasn’t keeping Davante down. In fact, as if to prove a point, the first two passes of the game went to Davante and he caught both of them for eight yards and 13 yards — the latter on fourth and one.
The long drive in the third that ended with an interception in the end zone, saw Adams catch two 12-yard passes and force a pass interference on Surtain that put the Raiders in first and goal at the four-yard-line. One of the three shots Jimmy G took at the end zone went for Adams, but he was covered and the ball was knocked down. So, ultimately Surtain would win that round.
The go-ahead touchdown drive, on the other hand, got going with Davante breaking wide open for an 18-yard catch. It was Adams’s final catch of the day, giving him six catches for 66 yards and a happy ending to his first outing with a new Raiders QB throwing him passes.
CB Jakorian Bennett — It was perfect for the rookie. He had a couple of pass interference calls at bad times. But ultimately he held up well considering he played every snap in his first NFL game. And displayed some solid tackling abilities too.
There were some good defensive plays for the Raiders on the Broncos’ opening drive. And a couple of times it looked like the drive might stall. But ultimately they would convert in every opportunity. The final couple chances were with the Broncos in third and three at the Las Vegas 18-yard-line. Moehrig would give up a 15-yard catch to the tight end to put them in first and goal at the three.
That would turn into second and goal at the five with a run stuff for a loss by Robert Spillane. Which seemed only to serve as breathing room for Russell Wilson to find one of his other tight ends running away from Moehrig in the back right corner of the end zone for the touchdown.
Just before the half, the Broncos would score their second touchdown. Just like before, Moehrig gave up a 15-yard catch to put the Broncos in first and goal. Wilson came up and spiked the ball to stop the clock and threw for a touchdown on the next play.
On the Broncos’ final scoring drive, they lined up at the 20-yard-line and Moehrig was blocked to give up a 12-yard run to put them in first and goal from the eight-yard-line.
With the Raiders down 13-10 in the third quarter, they needed a break. In other words, they needed a takeaway. And for a moment, it looked like they may have one. In third and six from their own 40-yard-line, Russell Wilson scrambled out left. Marcus Epps hit him and knocked the ball out and Divine Deablo recovered it at the 44. Their best field position to start a possession since the opening drive. But it was all for naught.
There was a flag on the play. Peters was called for illegal contact. So, the turnover was wiped away *and* the Broncos would get a first down.
That single play would not prove devastating as the Broncos would miss the 55-yard field goal and the Raiders would take over at their own 45, which is still decent field position.
The problem is, there wasn’t exactly winning the rest of his time on the field either. He gave up a 10-yard catch on the Broncos’ opening TD drive, missed a tackle on an 11-yard run and gave up a six-yard catch on the next drive to put them in third-and-short, and gave up a six-yard catch that put the Broncos in field goal range on their final scoring drive.
He finished with three tackles — none under five yards downfield — and no pass breakups.
DT Bilal Nichols, DT Byron Young
These three finished with one tackle combined in 55 snaps between them. That one tackle was by Nichols on a three-yard run on second and two. In other words, they did less than nothing in this game.
Young was blocked on runs for six and 11 yards on the Broncos first drive of the third quarter. The latter of which put them in first down at the Vegas 44.
The final Broncos’ scoring drive, Nichols was blocked on a five-yard run and ran out of the play on the 12-yard run to set up first and goal.
The Broncos running back ran for 93 yards on 21 carries (4.4 yards per carry) and the times they were stopped for less than three yards, it wasn’t the Raiders interior DL that was making the stop.
DE Tyree Wilson
Speaking of invisible…the Raiders top pick was nowhere to be found in this game. Several people noted during the game how slow Wilson was off the snap. But no play was better captured than this one by Brian Baldinger.
Wilson’s stats consisted of one assisted tackle. And he never even got close to Russell Wilson all game long. A very bad start for the seventh overall pick.
TE Michael Mayer
Completing the Raiders top three draft picks in the Busters is their second round tight end who didn’t have a single target in the game and whose presence consisted of missing a block on a run stuff for no gain and being flagged for holding on another play.
The Broncos’ final scoring drive never should have happened. That’s because the Raiders defense had made the stop to force a punt. But Masterson came flying in to take the punter’s legs out from under him. He was flagged for roughing the kicker, and instead of the Raiders getting the ball back, the Broncos kept possession. From there they drove for the field goal.