Would you look at that? A quarterback who makes a play with his leg in the most crucial of moments to lead the Las Vegas Raiders to a season-opening division win—you read that right. That’s exactly what Jimmy Garoppolo did for the Silver and Black in their 17-16 road win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon.
Facing a precarious 3rd-and-7 with just two minutes left and a one-point lead in hand, Garoppolo and the Raiders executed in the most timely fashion. Lined up in the shotgun, Garoppolo took a snap. The offensive line then stoned their blocking assignments, with the Broncos sending six at the QB. Running back Josh Jacobs took care of a blitzing linebacker, and after scanning the field, the Raiders new signal caller took off and scrambled for eight yards to ice the game.
“The running kind of just happened. I didn’t plan for it,” Garoppolo said postgame. “They rushed past me, and the opportunity was there, so I just saw the first down marker and had to go get it.”
Go get it, he did.
Squint, and you can almost see another Raiders QB doing the same exact thing—that one wore No. 12 and was the grizzled veteran and perfectionist—in the scramble by Garoppolo.
Lauded for his quick decision-making skills, Jimmy Garoppolo showcased just that on the play. He took off, got past the marker, slid inbounds, and sealed the deal. Just look at how Jimmy G hopped up and fist pumped with wide receiver Davante Adams greeting him and nodding his head:
All Jimmy G does is find a way to win football games pic.twitter.com/HZiKPnqbp9
— Bussin’ With The Boys (@BussinWTB) September 10, 2023
Cool and poised, Garoppolo’s first game as a Raider results in what should be a tone-setting victory on the road.
“Jimmy G” is the leader that the Raiders have been missing…
“He’s a good leader. He’s won a lot of games in this league,” Raiders head honcho Josh McDaniels said of his quarterback. “I think the guys in the locker room know who they have, what this guy can do, and how competitive he is. He’s a very good leader. He’s a great communicator. Just does what it takes to win.
He doesn’t care about his statistics or anything like that; it’s just, Whatever I can do at my position to try to help the team win, I’m going to try to do it.’ I’m super happy that he’s a Raider.”
Speaking of stats, Garoppolo was efficient, going 20 of 26 for 277 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He wasn’t sacked once, exhibited sound pocket awareness, and took off when he needed to. Even when Las Vegas looked in dire straits, especially after the tipped pass in the end zone that was intercepted by Denver, Garoppolo remained steadfast.
“The pick was a terrible, stupid decision,” Garoppolo said. You’ve just got to take the points there and throw it away when nothing’s there. I thought mental toughness kicked in, and guys stuck with it. They believed in me, so I appreciate that.
No kidding. That had an effect on the defense.
When the Silver and Black needed it most, they showcased complementary football in the fourth quarter.
First came a six-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in Jimmy Garoppolo hooking up with Jakobi Meyer on a six-yard slant for the score. Then came a defensive stand that saw a one-handed Trevon Moehrig make a critical third-down stop. The Raiders safety had his hand clubbed up to protect a thumb injury and tackled much bigger Broncos tight end Adam Trautman to force a punt. That led to the Raiders offense icing the game and handing the Broncos their seventh-straight loss in the recent series between the two squads.
“We see it every single day; he’s a dawg. In the big moments, he stepped up,” Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby said of Jimmy Garoppolo. “It goes vice versa, defense; we needed a stop, and we stepped up. That’s how you win football games; it’s got to be complementary football. We all have to believe in the guy next to us, and Jimmy is a dawg. So I’m super excited for him, and I’m happy he’s my quarterback.”
Las Vegas’ ability to finish Sunday’s game and come out victorious is a far cry from what the team showed in 2022. Adams even admitted in the media session post-game in the Raiders locker room that this team last year doesn’t win this football game. But the team executed when it counted the most.
These aren’t the same old Raiders
In fact, Las Vegas faceplanted twice last year, facing similar circumstances against the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. But kudos to Josh Dubow for digging and finding the true depths of despair.
#Raiders got the ball with 5:08 left protecting a 1-score lead and ran out the clock. They hadn’t run out clock protecting 1-score lead on drive that started w/ 5+ mins left since at least 2000.
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) September 11, 2023
Now at 1-0 after an impressive road victory over an AFC West foe, the Raiders prepare for the Buffalo Bills (who played the New York Jets on Monday Night Football) for a Week 2 showdown at Highmark Stadium in New York.
For the 0-1 Broncos, it’s back to the drawing board with a daring head coach in Sean Payton. No matter what the Broncos do—new head coach, etc.—the owner still remains the same: the Raiders. Las Vegas hit lucky number seven on Sunday in their wire-to-wire win, and for Denver, that means in seven tries, a big fat L is imprinted on their forehead. Now, would Randy Gregory rather have that or Mark Davis’ haircut?
Quote of Note
“He’s a football player. He’s tough. He does a lot of dirty work. He blocks in the running game. Can go inside and make plays inside. He’s got good size and can make some things happen on third down or in the red zone. That’s why he’s here. … Always comes up big in big games and today was no different.” –Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels on wide receiver Jakobi Meyers
*Top Photo: LAPRESSE