Showing precision passing and power running on offense and pressure plus speed on defense, the Raiders handled the Denver Broncos, 24-16, in what will be the final Monday Night football game in Oakland.
The next time the Raiders host the Broncos or play in a Monday night game, the Silver and Black will call Las Vegas home.
The Broncos didn’t get into the end zone until only 2:15 was left in the game. For a Raiders defense that finished last in the league in 2018, it was an impressive show.
Joe Flacco, the Broncos’ latest quarterback project, was harassed most of the night, enduring four official hurries and three sacks..
Oakland quarterback Derek Carr reminded fans that he was an on-target passer last year and should be again this season. He completed 16 of his first 17 passes and finished 22 of 26 for 259 yards and a touchdown.
“Derek was really on top of his game tonight. . . in charge out there,” Raiders Coach Jon Gruden said afterward.
Gruden smirked when asked if recent events – meaning the circus sideshow release of wide receiver Antonio Brown on Saturday – had any impact on preparing for the game.
“There really wasn’t,“ Gruden said. “Maybe for the media, but what happened here the last couple of days may have been big news to some, but there were no distractions. I think you could tell that our team was ready to roll.”
In fact, seven receivers – none named Brown – caught passes from Carr on Monday night. Big-play star of that show was wide receiver Tryell Williams, a free agent prize (from the Los Angeles Chargers). He made highlight videos by catching six passes for 105 yards and one touchdown.
Key connections included a 43-yarder on third-and-one in the second quarter that went to the Bronco 29 and led to Raiders second touchdown and a 24-yarder in the fourth quarter that set up Oakland's final touchdown.
The Raiders, an NFL-worst worst in sacks last season with 13, had three against the Broncos, two by defensive end Benson Mayowa and another by rookie first round pick Clelin Ferrell.
But the show that seemed to most excite Raider Nation was put on by rookie running back Josh Jacobs. Behind a makeshift line (with one guard out injured and the other suspended), he carried 23 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns while adding one catch for 28 yards.
“The play that really impressed me was the catch,” Gruden said. “We went on to score and made it 21-6, so that was big. He showed some all-purposeness. He can catch it, he can block – he picked up a couple of blitzes. He’s smart. And he’s passionate about the game.”
With both starting guards out, the big -- very big -- keys to Oakland's success on offense were their offensive tackles -- second year Raider Kolton Miller on the left and free agent acquisition Trent Brown on the right. Despite the rep of Denver coach Vic Fangio, who had great pass rusher Von Miller, Carr was not sacked and barely hurried all night.
The rowdy crowd was brought to a hush with 5:13 left in the third quarter when third-year defensive back Gareon Conley was carried from the field after he was injured by friendly fire after he and teammate Jonathan Abram tried to make a tackle along the sideline.
“I got good word on him that he is going to be OK,” Gruden said of Conley. “I don’t know his status for the next game, but most importantly the kid is all right. That was a scary hit that he took. All reports I have are very, very positive.
On the play, Abram’s leg appeared to hit Conley on the helmet and Conley lay still on the field for several minutes while he was strapped to a cart. He did give the crowd a thumbs up while being carried out.
The Raiders struck on their first possession, driving 72 yards in 10 plays, with the payoff coming on a an eight-yard pass from Carr to Williams with 8:52 left in the opening quarter. Raiders, 7-0.
Oakland’s defense then stopped Denver for only 37 net yards on two drives while pressuring Flacco on passing downs.
The Raiders overcame two illegal motion penalties that put them at their own two-yard line before driving 95 net yards -- including a 43-yard pass from Carr to Tryell Williams -- to go ahead, 14-0, after a two-yard dive by Jacobs with 8:35 left in the half.
The Broncos’ final drive of the first half went as far as the Raiders’ 36 before pressure led to holding and Denver found itself on the Oakland 46 with only five seconds left.
Brandon McManus tried a desperation, 64-yard field goal as time ran out, but it was short, preserving the Raiders’ first half shutout.
The Broncos began the second half driving from their 25 to the Raiders’ eight before their third trip into the red zone was stopped. They settled for a 26-yard field goal by McManus, leaving the Raiders ahead 14-3 in the middle of the third quarter.
The Broncos managed only two more short field goals until Flacco finally completed a touchdown pass with 2:15 left.
Notes: Raiders inactives for MNF were newly re-signed rookie wide receiver Keelan Doss, guard Jonathan Cooper, guard Gabe Jackson, quarterback DeShone Kizer, safey Dallin Leavit, defensive tackle Corey Liuget and tackle David Sharpe. Among those inactive for the Broncos were starting cornerback Bryce Callahan and starting linebacker Todd Davis. Callahan (foot) was listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week, while Davis (calf) was listed as doubtful.