It finally happened, Raider Nation. The Las Vegas Raiders are now in the win column, thanks mostly to a complete team effort. The defense did its job, and the offense was able to close out the contest with a touchdown, for once not settling for a field goal. The 32-23 victory felt a little nicer as well, knowing it came in a rivalry where there’s no love lost. In taking a look at the victory, there were some surprises that helped pull out this much-needed win.
Derek Carr, The Dual Threat?
A consistent complaint from Raiders fans is that quarterback Derek Carr doesn’t use his legs nearly enough. In Carr’s defense, he’s athletic and, when necessary, can definitely get big runs. We all recall when he took off against the Dallas Cowboys last Thanksgiving. In Sunday’s game, the polarizing signal-caller had seven runs for 40 yards and five first downs, according to ESPN’s box score. This included a yard scamper right before halftime that led to a field goal heading into intermission. On the game-sealing touchdown drive, he picked up nine on third and six that kept the drive alive and ended with Josh Jacobs locking the door on the Broncos. Fans don’t expect a 100-yard rushing game from Carr, but if he shows the willingness to pull it down and run, that could be a big piece of the offense.
The Raiders Made No Mistakes, Emphasized Ball Control
In the Raiders’ first three games, they had ill-timed turnovers or boneheaded penalties that killed or stopped drives. In the Week 4 matchup, that was not the case. The defense actually picked up the big turnover and returned it for a score. There wasn’t a big penalty as the yellow flag only came out four times for 25 yards. That showed discipline by Josh McDaniels’ squad and was a nice sight to see. A big issue has also been the offense’s inconsistency and, unfortunately, leaving drives and plays on the field.
Yesterday’s game showed what this team can do as they ran more plays 74 to 48 and their time of possession was 34:52 to 25:08. The game-sealing drive could have been helped by the Broncos’ defense being tired from being on the field so much. This is something for McDaniels to see going forward, how much the run game can win a game for this team.
The Defense Had a Solid Outing, Offense Then Sealed It
The Raiders’ defense has been underwhelming so far but has been hampered by an absent pass rush and inconsistent run defense. Against the Broncos, that was not the case. In total yards, the Broncos ended with 299 and only 85 came on the ground. Maxx Crosby had two of the defense’s three sacks, and there were some Chandler Jones sightings. He made hits on Russell Wilson and caused a few holding calls. The fumble recovery for a touchdown was also the first return by special teams or defense in 43 games.
The defense gave up some big plays but never seemed rattled and kept on going all game, and even after giving up a touchdown late, the offense responded with a game-sealing drive and score that ended with a field goal, but as the extra point, not due to a stalled drive. In the first three games, it was as if they made just a play here or there, and here, they made those plays and more. A possible playoff run isn’t farfetched if they can continue this type of effort and play.
*Top Photo: Official Raiders YouTube Channel