Raiders at Broncos score: Defense powers Las Vegas past Denver in first game since Jon Gruden resignation

The Las Vegas Raiders got back on track in Week 6, as they defeated the Denver Broncos 34-24. Coming into this matchup, we weren't sure what Raiders team we were going to get. This team of course was weathering a storm that had nothing to do with football, as former head coach Jon Gruden resigned from his position on Monday after emails of him using insensitive and inappropriate language were leaked. The Raiders were either going to use this moment to come together, or drift apart. We saw them do the former on Sunday.

The Raiders acquired a 17-7 halftime lead and didn't look back. Derek Carr completed 18 of 27 passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns, Kenyan Drake scored two times and then Henry Ruggs III had a big day with 97 yards and a touchdown on three catches. It was the defense that won this one, however. 

Teddy Bridgewater left much to be desired on Sunday, although his offensive line did not give him much help. He completed 35 of 49 passes for 334 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also lost a fumble. The box score on Denver's side doesn't look too bad as they had two receivers in Noah Fant and Courtland Sutton who went for 90-plus yards, but this game felt out of their control for the majority of the afternoon. 

Don't look now, but the Raiders are tied atop the AFC West. So, what exactly went on in Denver in Week 6? Let's take a deeper look. 

Why the Raiders won

It would be accurate to say this was a good team win, but the defense made sure the Raiders came out victorious. They started off right, as they recorded eight quarterbacks hits and sacked Bridgewater three times in the opening half. The defense finished with five sacks and also forced four turnovers as well. The Vegas D limited Denver's chunk plays and leaned on its physicality through all four quarters. It was impressive how this unit didn't let up even with a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. While they haven't been perfect this season, that's been a takeaway through six games: Gus Bradley has this defense moving in the right direction.

Why the Broncos lost

Nothing went right for the Broncos on Sunday -- on either side of the ball. Bridgewater was overthrowing his receivers, the offensive line couldn't block and the defense couldn't stop Carr and Co. We don't have time to run through all of the bad, but let's quickly revisit a moment in the first half.

Down three points with just over two minutes left before halftime, the Broncos had a chance to take the lead or tie. Instead, Fant was called for holding and Courtland Sutton was called for offensive pass interference, and the Broncos were forced to punt after five plays, giving the Raiders possession with one minute left. Vegas then marched down the field -- 82 yards on five plays with no problem -- and extended the lead to 10 points with Drake's first touchdown. That was a big swing right before halftime.

The Broncos did score 14 points in the fourth quarter, but the game always felt out of reach. Even if they got close to pulling off the comeback, head coach Vic Fangio lost two challenges in the second half -- which took away two timeouts. Did we overestimate the Broncos after their easy start to the season? More than that, are they the worst team in the AFC West? 

Turning point

The Broncos went three-and-out on their first drive of the second half while the Raiders went four-and-in. Drake recorded his second touchdown of the game to push the lead to 17 points. It became clear the second half was going to look similar to the first. 

Play of the game

There was plenty of hype surrounding second-year wideout Bryan Edwards coming into this season, and while he's not a must-start in fantasy leagues just yet, he's made some big plays for the Raiders. He made another one on Sunday, as he pulled off a one-handed catch that went for 51 yards on third-and-five. 

Quotable

What's next

The Raiders return home next week, and will host Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Broncos on the other hand have a short week, and will travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns this Thursday night. 

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DEN -5, o45
DEN -5, O/U 45

Season Leaders

passing
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D. Carr4804 YD, 23 TDS, 14 INTS
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D. Carr4804 YD, 23 TDS, 14 INTS
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T. Bridgewater3052 YD, 18 TDS, 7 INTS
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T. Bridgewater3052 YD, 18 TDS, 7 INTS
rushing
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J. Jacobs217 ATT, 872 YD, 9 TDS
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J. Jacobs217 ATT, 872 YD, 9 TDS
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M. Gordon203 ATT, 918 YD, 8 TDS
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M. Gordon203 ATT, 918 YD, 8 TDS
receiving
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H. Renfrow103 REC, 1038 YD, 9 TDS
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H. Renfrow103 REC, 1038 YD, 9 TDS
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C. Sutton58 REC, 776 YD, 2 TDS
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C. Sutton58 REC, 776 YD, 2 TDS
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@Raiders via Twitter
October 17, 2021, 11:53 PM
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aaaaand there's pick number three for Bridgewater. Teddy Turnover today. 

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Broncos still technically alive after recovering the onside kick. Great execution there. Teddy cannot throw a pick, but also has to play fast. 10-point deficit with less than a minute. 

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@Broncos via Twitter
October 17, 2021, 11:26 PM
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I think that's the right call. Good catch by Hinton. 

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@Raiders via Twitter
October 17, 2021, 11:01 PM
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wow what a play. Looked like a catch but maybe it's an interception? All turnovers are reviewed, but this is big because it was initially ruled an INT on the field. 

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Two failed challenges in the second half now for Fangio. 

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