The Oakland Raiders were on the brink of a morale boosting win at the rival Denver Broncos, but despite leading for almost the entire game there was late heartbreak for Jon Gruden’s team. Robert O’Reardon reports…
The Old Problem
After a week one humbling at home to the LA Rams, the last thing the Oakland Raiders needed was trip to their biggest rival in the AFC West in the form of the Denver Broncos. The Raiders very rarely win at the Mile High Stadium but very nearly did so here after leading for the entirety of the game until the final 10 seconds.
For the first three quarters, they were brilliant. Derek Carr looked back to his old self, he had one incomplete pass for in that time. But an old problem that has dogged this franchise for years came back to haunt them.
Penalties at the wrong time cost them. In the final quarter Carr found Amari Cooper which would have set them up with prime real estate to finish the contest off. However, after being fouled, Cooper was also flagged for pass inference meaning the penalties off-set against each other. The Raiders were forced to punt and the game was lost.
Added to the 155 yards in penalties Oakland conceded last week, it seems like a problem that will not go away.
Carr & Cooper
One of the main stories from last week was the lack of options for Carr following the snap which affected the Raiders ability to score points. This wasn’t an issue in week 2 as Cooper looked much better than he did on the opening week and for much of last season.
The wide receiver caught 10 passes for 116 yards on the day while Carr completed 29 out 32 passes for 288 yards. Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin were not at the races but Lynch still managed one touchdown and 65 yards.
The rushing game is still an issue which was badly exposed on two fourth down plays that the Broncos managed to stop.
However, it was encouraging that Jon Gruden has something to work with Carr and Cooper.
The New Problem
Ever since Sebastian Janikowski became a Raider (ironically enough under Gruden), kicking has not been a problem. He very rarely missed a kick until he played his last game two seasons ago.
He was placed as an injured reserve last season and replaced by Giorgio Tavecchio who was steady but not spectacular.
Janikowski has left the organisation for the Seattle Seahawks now and the Raiders first choice kicker is Mike Nugent, who replaced Tavecchio when he was cut. Nugent missed the extra point after Lynch went into the endzone.
Converting this would have guaranteed the Raiders overtime. It turned out to be a big mistake.
A gameball for…
Derek Carr – This performance was one of his best since he broke his leg against the Colts in 2016. The Raiders will need more of this over the coming weeks.