If this is indeed a second-year dress rehearsal for Derek Carr under head coach Jon Gruden, the quarterback opened with a solid performance. He led touchdown drives of 72, 95 and 60 yards, completing 22 of 26 passes for 259 yards and a score. Josh Jacobs (23 rushes, 85 yards, two TDs) impressed in his rookie debut as the lead back and Carr hit seven receivers, led by Tyrell Williams (six for 105 yards and a score).
Change defined this unit in the offseason as younger faces arrived, and for a side that couldn’t stop air for much of 2018, it held up for the most part. The Raiders totaled three sacks, significant when you consider they had 13 all last year. A scary moment occurred when third-year cornerback Gareon Conley was taken off on a stretcher in the third quarter, his neck having been hit by the leg of rookie Johnathan Abram during a tackle.
It was 21-9 with just over eight minutes left when nine-year veteran kick returner Dwayne Harris scooted 72 yards to give the Raiders possession at the Denver 30. Six plays later, the Raiders got a 29-yard field goal from Daniel Carlson to all but clinch the Week 1 win. Rookie punter A.J. Cole averaged 44.7 yards on three attempts.
The drama surrounding wide receiver Antonio Brown that swallowed the Raiders these past few months no doubt made things far more difficult for Gruden and his staff than anyone let on. A win to begin a season that likely won’t produce many weeks in which the team will be favored to do so was an impressive opening statement.