The Las Vegas Raiders played host to the Denver Broncos for another AFC West showdown — the second divisional opponent in two weeks. In doing so, the Raiders’ defense showcased a much-improved unit this week.
The Raiders’ defense has been the team’s weakest link so far this season, but today they forced five turnovers en route to a Las Vegas’ 37-12 victory inside Allegiant Stadium over the Broncos.
The Raiders’ defense picked off quarterback Drew Lock four times — including two that were hauled in by safety Jeff Heath. Maxx Crosby and Nicholas Morrow both recorded one sack apiece on Lock, and collectively the Raiders tallied seven quarterback hits on the day.
The Las Vegas offense sputtered early on, but as things progressed, they found their groove on the ground, rushing for over 200 yards. Josh Jacobs surpassed the 100-yard threshold for the second time in three weeks, and Devontae Booker put together his best performance in a Raiders uniform against his former team, rushing for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
In the first quarter, the Raiders dialed up their first of many scoring drives by kicking things off with a 25-yard pass from Derek Carr to Hunter Renfrow. On the ensuing drive, Carr got back to using his legs as he’s shown more of this season, scrambling for eight yards before handing it off to Jacobs for the 12-yard touchdown to go up 7-0.
As the Raiders’ defense went back out on the field following the score, cornerback Trayvon Mullen fell to the ground after lowering his head to make the tackle. Mullen came out for a short period of time before going back in, but receiver Jerry Jeudy gave him a run for his money in coverage.
The Broncos wound up settling for a Brandon McManus 50-yard field goal, making it 7-3 after running back Melvin Gordon put together a couple chunk plays on the ground as he fought through several arm tackles.
The Raiders showed nothing on the following drive, giving it back to the Broncos, but Lock missed high on his intended target and hit Heath for the interception. Raiders led 7-3 after the first quarter of regulation with both defenses being the focus at that point.
Renfrow then sparked the team’s momentum on special teams with a surplus of good returns, but penalties neglected the good field position that they were set up with. The Raiders went on to go scoreless on three of their first four drives.
As the Broncos took over on offense they continued to target Mullen in coverage, hitting Jeudy before tacking on another field goal to make it 7-6.
The Raiders answered back with a field goal of their own but could’ve had six points if not for a Nelson Agholor drop in the end zone.
With the final seconds expiring leading up to halftime, the Broncos punched it in with Lock running along the sideline but Denver got flagged for a Noah Fant hold. After the penalty, Lock dropped back and was picked off by Heath for a second time. That play by Heath and the Raiders’ defense seemed to set the tone for a better second half.
The Raiders have been one of the better teams this season to make second-half adjustments, but drops all of a sudden became a blatant issue. Carlson was brought on to nail a 52-yard field goal to extend the Raiders’ lead.
Soon thereafter, Jacobs punched it in on the ground to go up 21-6.
To round out the third quarter of play, Lock put the ball up in harm’s way once again, and this time it’s defensive end Carl Nassib who came away with the interception. The Raiders’ defense came up time and time again, “hitting the jackpot” as play-by-play Brent Musburger said quite frequently.
With the Raiders commanding lead and things getting closer to the final score, things began getting testy. Tim Patrick and Isaiah Johnson both were ejected for delivering punches.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the game was well out of reach. The Raiders continued to feed Booker as he gets the last laugh in his revenge game against the team who drafted him.
In garbage time, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski put on display an acrobatic one-handed interception just before the clock hit zero.
The Raiders’ defense put together their first blowout win of the 2020 season while coming away with their third consecutive victory. While the offense struggled overall, they did enough and scored when they had to.
The Raiders now look ahead to their Week 11 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in which they’ll host them in Las Vegas on Sunday Night Football.