Raiders begin new era on a mile-high note
DENVER—Jon Gruden’s resignation in disgrace didn’t unravel the Las Vegas Raiders. It galvanized them.
“It for sure brought us closer,” Derek Carr said after the Raiders’ 34-24 thrashing of the bewildered Denver Broncos on Sunday. “We needed a win bad this week. Sometimes when you get punched in the gut it’s hard to bounce back, but we were able to do it.”
Carr sliced up the Denver defence for 341 yards and two touchdowns, Maxx Crosby made three sacks and the Las Vegas Raiders started the postGruden era by moving into a tie atop the AFC West.
Gruden resigned Monday night when it was revealed that, before being hired in 2018, he sent emails containing racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments about several people in the NFL.
The Raiders, now 4-2, gave longtime special teams co-ordinator Rich Bisaccia a win in his debut as interim head coach, and offensive co-ordinator Greg Olson was masterful in his first play-calling duties for Las Vegas since Carr’s rookie season in 2014.
“The best part for me was to get on the grass,” Bisaccia said. “The worst part for me was figuring out the headset. Once you get on the field and the game goes, a lot of our responsibilities were the same. There was really good dialogue with his co-ordinators.”
“Oh, there’s a button on there and I have to press it if I want to talk,” Bisaccia explained. “Back in the day when I wore a headset set we didn’t have all those buttons.”
The Raiders began by ending an 11-game streak without a score on their opening drive. They never let up, burning the Broncos’ beleaguered secondary that couldn’t keep up with Carr and his targets.
“Simply put, we got our butts whooped,” Broncos safety Justin Simmons said after Denver allowed seven pass plays of at least 25 yards. “I know there’s going to be questions about the secondary. We’ve got to play better. I’ve got to play better and I’m going to get this figured out.”
Nor could Denver’s deficient offence keep pace. Teddy Bridgewater threw a seasonhigh three interceptions and lost a fumble, negating his 334 yards passing and three TDs.
The Broncos lost their third consecutive game, but the other defeats came at the hands of Ravens and Steelers and their veteran head coaches John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin.
This one had to sting coach Vic Fangio, whose Broncos have a short week before a Thursday night game at Cleveland with the possibility they’ll fall below .500 just 25 days after starting 3-0. Von Miller embraced the quick turnaround. Beat him, he said, and he wants another crack at it, whether it’s a card game, a video game or a football game.
“I want another shot at it super quick, so there’s no better time to do it,” Miller said. “We’ve got 96 hours to get it done. I like it like this.”
The Broncos’ humiliation came on a day they inducted former coach Mike Shanahan into their Ring of Fame and honoured Steve Atwater’s longawaited entrance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.