OAKLAND — After a tumultuous week, the Raiders were able to put Antonio Brown in the past and come away with a 24-16 victory over the Denver Broncos on “Monday Night Football.”
Brown was supposed to be the focal point of an upgraded Raiders offense. But on this night, quarterback Derek Carr, rookie running back Josh Jacobs, wide receiver Tyrell Williams and tight end Darren Waller showed off for a national audience.
Jacobs ended his debut with 113 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 24 touches. Quarterback Derek Carr finished 22 of 26 passing for 259 yards and a touchdown to finish with a passer rating of 121.0.
“He played great,” Gruden said of Carr. “He did a lot more for our team than complete a lot of passes.”
Williams had six receptions for 105 yards, and Waller put up seven receptions for 70 yards. Williams, in particular, made a number of big-time catches.
“I’m really happy for Tyrell Williams,” Gruden said. “Tyrell Williams is capable of being a No. 1, front-line guy for us.”
“We’re not shocked by the success we were able to have,” Williams said.
The Raiders controlled the ball and the clock throughout the first half. After receiving the opening kickoff, the club went 72 yards in seven plays to begin the season with a touchdown. With Williams and Ryan Grant as the starting wide receivers, Waller put the Raiders in the red zone with a 25-yard catch down the left sideline. Then Carr found Williams in the end zone for an 8-yard TD pass, as Raiders fans chanted “F—- AB!” in celebration.
While the chants rained down periodically throughout the game, Williams claimed in the locker room he never heard them.
After that touchdown, Benson Mayowa’s sack led to the Raiders getting the ball back on their own 5. But the team scored nonetheless, putting together a 13-play, 95-yard drive. The offense converted four third downs during the possession, highlighted by 43-yard pass to Williams deep down the middle. Jacobs rushed for his first touchdown for a 14-0 lead.
The Broncos used a 12-play drive to get on the board with a field goal early in the second half and had a chance for a touchdown on their next drive. But Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton dropped the ball on an open look in the end zone, forcing Denver to settle for a field goal.
With a 14-6 lead, the Raiders got back on the board with the help of another big-time Williams catch in the fourth quarter. On third and 6, Carr found him for a 24-yard gain. Williams had to reach up, secure the pass and then brace for impact — but did each successfully for a first down at the Broncos 4.
From there, Jacobs punched in his second touchdown for a 21-6 lead with 11:52 remaining.
The Broncos threatened on their ensuing drive, but No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell announced his NFL arrival with a sack on third and 2. Denver settled for a 39-yard field goal to make the score 21-9.
Special teams helped the Raiders put the game out of reach. Dwayne Harris brought the ensuing kickoff out of the end zone for a 73-yard return, putting the offense in scoring position. The club capitalized with Daniel Carlson’s 29-yard field goal for a 24-9 lead.
After Denver scored its first touchdown on a 1-yard pass to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders with 2:15 left, Williams and Jacobs closed the door with consecutive plays. Carr hit the wide receiver with a 10-yard screen pass to the left on third and 8. Then Jacobs powered his way to the right for a 13-yard gain.
Denver was out of timeouts, as Carr took a knee to end it.
After all that had happened with Brown since Thursday, Gruden said the Raiders’ performance proved that the situation the now-Patriots wide receiver created was not a distraction.
“I think you could tell tonight,” Gruden said. “Our team was ready to roll.”