The Sean Payton era in Denver is now officially underway.
Broncos Wire examines five studs and duds from the loss.
Stud: Russell WIlson
After an offseason where Wilson’s starting role was questioned, speculated and even lambasted, the Broncos quarterback had himself a good game. In 2022, it took Wilson four games to have a multi-touchdown effort. On Sunday, it took until the end of the first half. While we saw him hold onto the ball more at times, Wilson moved around to buy time for his receivers, and delivered some strikes. Overall, Wilson finished 27-of-34 passing for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
Dud: Wil Lutz
After almost completing a surprise onside kick to begin the game, Wil Lutz’s performance quickly went awry. Lutz missed an extra point after the first Broncos touchdown drive, putting Denver in an early hole, 7-6. Later, Lutz missed a 55-yard attempt wide right. Those four points would end up being the difference in the game. The Broncos have already gone through a kicking competition in training camp, and with little stability in sight, there could be an in-season competition ahead for Lutz.
Stud: Running backs
Both Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine ended up being a powerful 1-2 punch out of the backfield. On 13 carries, Williams produced 53 yards. On eight carries, Perine had 41 yards. On the receiving end of things, Perine added four catches for 37 yards, and Williams had four receptions for five yards. Both backs were complementary, and though Williams sat out for long stretches of the game, each showed explosive abilities, and carried defenders for yards after a hit.
Dud: Damarri Mathis
Broncos cornerback Damarri Mathis had a tough day against Raiders receiver Jakobi Meyers. Meyers caught nine passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns to lead Las Vegas Sunday. Mathis was the primary cover man for Meyers, and he was beaten several times. The fourth-round draft pick in 2022 was targeted a lot, and it will remain to be seen how Mathis does next week against the Washington Commanders.
The game between Denver and Las Vegas was a penalty-filled affair, with each team racking up 10 fouls for 83 and 97 yards, respectively. Offensive penalties for the Broncos stalled drives, and one of the most costly penalties came on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Denver safety Kareem Jackson on Raiders receiver Jakobi Meyers, which continued the final drive of the game for Las Vegas.
This area of the Broncos’ game will need to be cleaned up in a significant way, if they are to compete in close games.
Even though there were more duds this week, there is a sense of optimism in Denver. Even down one point late in the game, it didn’t feel like things were ever out of reach. Sean Payton has already changed the Broncos for the better, and filled fans with a sense of excitement when he began the game with a surprise onside kick.
Up next, the Broncos will play the Washington Commanders at home on Sunday, Sept. 17.