Photo credit: @Raiders
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND — After a very poor showing at home against the Los Angeles Rams, the Raiders travel to Denver to take on the Broncos in an AFC West matchup Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PT. The two teams will meet each other later this year on ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Christmas Eve in Oakland.
Last season, the two teams split their two-game series winning on their home turf.
The Raiders (0-1) fell flat on their faces to the Rams 33-13 in front of a sold out Raider Nation crowd of 53,857 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on ESPN’s Monday Night Football to closeout Week 1. Oakland held a 13-10 lead at halftime in head coach Jon Gruden’s return to the sidelines after a nine-year hiatus, before the wheels fell off for the Silver and Black in the second half as the Rams scored 23 unanswered points to claim the victory.
In the battle of franchise quarterbacks, Rams signal-caller Jared Goff clearly outplayed Derek Carr in front of a nationally televised audience. Both quarterbacks played a handful of snaps in the preseason and there was bound to be some rust in the first game.
For Goff, he completed 18 of 33 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions picking up right where he left off engineering the NFL’s top scoring offense from a season ago. The Rams averaged 29.9 points per game last year.
Oakland’s defense couldn’t generate a consistent pass rush against Goff, only sacking him once in the game by Bruce Irvin.
Neither could they stop last year’s NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley. The Rams running back looked in midseason form, carrying the ball 20 times for 108 yards. Gurley also hauled in three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.
After a hot start to the game where he completed 20 of 24 passes for 199 yards, Carr played pedestrian finishing 29 of 40 for 303 yards and three interceptions. Carr did have good chemistry with tight end Jared Cook, who caught a game-high nine balls or a league-high 180 yards.
Seven of Cook’s catches went for first downs, which tied for the most in Week 1.
Cook’s 45-yard catch-and-run down the middle of the field in the first quarter on the Raiders’ opening drive did set up Oakland’s first touchdown of the season, a 10-yard powerful run by running back Marshawn Lynch that gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead, but those were the only real highlights for the Raiders offensively as Oakland settled for two Mike Nugent field goals.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper, who Gruden said would be a “focal point” to the offense this season, was missing in action as he caught just one pass for nine yards.
Cooper looked out of place on opening night, matched up with cornerback and Oakland native Marcus Peters for most of the night. If you go back and look at the game film, Cooper appeared open down the field on occasions but for some strange reason, Carr couldn’t get him the ball.
Peters would take Carr’s third interception 50 yards for a touchdown that punctuated a night to forget for Carr.
Oakland could find it difficult to get back on track against Denver (1-0), who prevailed over the visiting Seattle Seahawks 27-24 last Sunday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Broncos starting quarterback Case Keenum completed 25 of 39 passes for 329 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions in his first game with the team.
Keenum enjoyed a career-year last season in Minnesota, throwing for 3,547 yards with 22 touchdowns to just seven interceptions while leading the Vikings to a 13-3 regular season record, an NFC North title, and appearance in the NFC Championship Game before signing a two-year, $36 million (with $25 million guaranteed) with Denver in the offseason.
Wide receiver Emmauel Sanders led the Broncos with 10 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown (fellow wide out Demaryius Thomas chipped in with six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown), while Denver’s ground game anchored by rookie running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay (15 carries for 71 each), found holes to run through in Seattle’s defense. Lindsay also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Keenum.
Denver’s defense had a huge day against Seattle forcing three turnovers and sacking Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson six times, three by linebacker Von Miller, who finished with six tackles (one assisted).
Miller also forced two fumbles, one of which where he ripped the ball away from running back Chris Carson for a Broncos takeaway.
Linebacker Todd Davis led Denver with eight tackles.
Following Sunday’s game, both teams head east as the Broncos travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens, while Oakland invades Miami for a matchup with the Dolphins.