As far as the Oakland Raiders are concerned, you can take all your Week 1 hot takes and shove ’em. After hearing all week about how bad they were, how scared their quarterback was, how out-of-touch their coach was, the Raiders responded with an impressive performance in their last-second loss to the Denver Broncos.
Yes, it was a loss — which means some questions remain unanswered — but it was a loss laced with positives and improvements and signs of potential. With that said, here are my Monday Morning Observations:
Derek Carr sets record
I can’t imagine anyone was more excited about playing on a short week than Carr, who must have been sick of hearing about his poor performance against the Los Angeles Rams. With that as motivation, Carr put together the most efficient performance at the quarterback position in NFL history: completing 29/32 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown. It was the first time in history that a quarterback has attempted more than 30 passes and completed at least 90 percent of them. (You can catch his highlights here)
Raiders battle to survive
Of the 60 minutes the Raiders played on Sunday afternoon, they trailed for just eight seconds — unfortunately, they were the wrong eight seconds. And yet, when you consider the circumstances, it’s hard to have asked for much more from this group.
This game was played just six days after Oakland hosted the late Monday night game, it required travel to high altitude, and it happened to feature the highest temperature in Broncos history. When the Broncos got the ball back under two minutes, you could tell the Raiders defense was running on empty — and in the end, they came up one play short.
One catch in Week 1? How about 10 in Week 2? Cooper caught every ball thrown his way, finishing with 116 yards on the day — flashing more and more of what the Raiders will need from him in order to get this season back on track.
It wasn’t a complete game from the defense, but with a new scheme and new players everywhere, the arrow is pointing upwards when it comes to this unit. On five drives in the first half, the Broncos managed to run just 17 plays thanks to excellent tackling and disciplined defense. Unfortunately, the second half couldn’t have been more different. On four second-half drives, the Broncos ran 45 plays and scored all 20 of their points — not allowing the defense to get a single stop.
Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes
What Raiders fans will remember most about this game were the missed opportunities: Keith Smith’s drop on fourth and one, Jared Cook’s false start on the drive that could have killed the clock, Bruce Irvin’s penalty on what would have been fourth down (turning a field goal into a touchdown) and the blocked extra point among them. If any one of those plays goes the other way, the Raiders probably emerge victorious. Instead, they’re 0-2 and headed back out on the road.
All in all, this was a game the Raiders deserved to win — which is probably what makes it hurt the most. With that said, after Week 1’s debacle, it’s nice to walk away from a game with some hope that the season isn’t all lost. Jon Gruden and Paul Guenther proved they have the chops to get this thing going — and now they know they’ve got the quarterback to get them there. Playing in Denver under these circumstances put the Raiders at a disadvantage before things even started, and yet they still barely lost.
While the Raiders sit at 0-2 heading into Miami to face the 2-0 Dolphins, this was a game filled with far more positives than negatives. The season isn’t lost yet, but time is running out on excuses and talk about a hopeful future.