The Raiders opened the season with a 17-16 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Empower Field at Mile High.
They’ve beaten Denver seven consecutive times.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. Captain comeback
Make that 11 career game-winning drives for Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
In his debut with the Raiders, Garoppolo completed 20 of 26 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns — including the game-winning 6-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers with 6:34 to play. The drive punctuated a solid outing for Garoppolo, who atoned for an egregious goal-line sequence that ended with an interception on the previous possession.
His final drive was equally impressive: 11 plays for 41 yards, including an 8-yard scramble on third-and-7 that allowed the Raiders to run out the clock.
The 31-year-old was poised in the pocket and accurate behind a well-playing offensive line that did not surrender a sack.
He had plenty of help from Meyers, who debuted for the Raiders with nine receptions for 81 yards and two scores. All-Pro wideout Davante Adams added six catches for 66 yards, producing plenty in key spots.
2. Defense does its thing
Timely second-half stops by the Raiders preserved opportunities for their offense to reclaim the lead.
On their first defensive possession, a key tackle by cornerback Nate Hobbs on third-and-7 limited Denver’s Marvin Mims to a 4-yard gain, leading to a 55-yard field goal attempt that kicker Will Lutz would miss.
The Raiders stiffened on the goal line on their ensuing defensive possession, relegating Denver to three points on a 16-play, 75-yard drive. Sticky coverage forced a 3-yard completion on first-and-goal and incompletions on second and third downs.
Garoppolo’s game-winning drive would follow — and so would another stop. Hobbs and linebacker Divine Deablo blew up a first-down run, leading to incompletions on second- and third-and-11.
Hobbs led the way with 12 tackles, and Deablo added nine.
All-Pro defensive end Maxx Crosby had five tackles and a sack, while defensive lineman Jerry Tillery secured a sack after starting at end in place of Chandler Jones, who was inactive for personal reasons.
3. Penalties remain a problem
The Raiders ranked 30th last season in penalties per game (6.6) and penalty yards per game (54.8).
They remained an issue Sunday.
The Raiders committed 10 penalties for 97 yards, extending opposing drives and compromising their own. A pass interference penalty by rookie cornerback Jakorian Bennett aided Denver’s first touchdown drive. A subsequent pass interference by Bennett extended Denver’s second.
An illegal contact on a third down by cornerback Marcus Peters eradicated a fumble by Russell Wilson, but the Broncos missed a field goal — limiting the impact of the flag.
After Garoppolo’s interception on the goal line, the Raiders stopped the Broncos on their subsequent possession. But linebacker Luke Masterson roughed Broncos punter Riley Dixon, costing them 15 yards, another first down and eventually three more points.