Film Session: 3 plays that Shaped the Raiders Win over Denver

Every team hopes to end the first week of the season with a 1-0 record and the Raiders were one of 16 teams successful in the endeavor. They bested the Denver Broncos in physical fashion in a game they dominated much more than the final score would indicate.

Oakland outclassed the Broncos on both sides of the line of scrimmage and held Denver’s vaunted pass rushers in check. The offensive line not only didn’t relinquish a sack, but quarterback Derek Carr wasn’t even hit once in the contest. A much maligned Raiders defense also managed to secure 3 sacks of their own, while a fourth sack was disallowed after a questionable illegal contact penalty.

It was nearly a perfect night for a team that wanted to put all of the media noise to bed and prove they are a group to be reckoned with this season. Let’s jump into the film and take a look at a few plays that helped decide the match up.

1) Carr’s third down aggression.

Derek Carr put on a masterful performance of running Jon Gruden’s offense. He displayed the level of accuracy fans have come to expect from him as he completed 22 of his 26 (84.6%) pass attempts. Those completions racked up 259 yards and a touchdown. This wasn’t a “dink and dunk” kind of night either as his 10 yards per completion can attest. In fact, it was Carr’s aggressive mindset that led to his longest completion of the night and really set the tone early in the second quarter.

Carr was looking at a third and 1 situation with 8:28 left in the first half. The offense had already converted on 3 of it’s 4 previous third down attempts with running back Josh Jacobs rushing for one of them. This was a pretty obvious running situation so Gruden naturally called a running play, but with the option to switch to a pass if they got a coverage they could exploit.

As Carr comes to the line he reads the defense is playing a Cover-0 meaning the field side cornerback has no help with wide receiver Tyrell Williams. Derek “kills” the run play and takes a shot down field with the 6’4″Williams. Tyrell gets inside of the CB’s leverage surprisingly easily, stacks the CB, and makes a nice over the shoulder grab for a 43 yard gain.

2) Benson Mayowa sacks Flacco 

All of the talk surrounding the defense this offseason seemed to involve the Raiders’ lackluster pass rush of a year ago. If Monday’s game was any indication, quarterbacks might actually fear the silver and black this year.

The defensive line was in the backfield for most of this contest with Denver quarterback Joe Flacco hitting the ground three times that counted. They also added another 5 hits on Flacco proving they are much improved from the unit that only managed 13 sacks all of last season. Raiders EDGE Benson Mayowa accrued 2 of those sacks himself with this one being particularly game altering.

Mayowa is going to faint a speed rush to the right tackle’s outside shoulder, then use a ‘counter swipe / rip’ to beat him back inside for the strip sack. What makes this play so important is it comes on 3rd and 12 with the Broncos securely in field goal range. The sack and subsequent fumble push the Broncos out of field goal range, costing Denver a chance at 3 points.

It was also a great play design by defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. He comes with a ‘Replacement Pressure’ that blitzes the slot corner but has the 3-technique drop into coverage. EDGE Clelin Ferrell recognizes and covers Flacco’s ‘hot receiver’ which forces him to hold the ball and gives Mayowa time to get home. It’s great to see the Raiders defense stepping up and altering games again.

3) Dropped TD 

To win games in the NFL sometimes teams have to just catch a lucky break. Something as simple as the direction a loose football bounces can be the difference between victory and defete. Well the Raiders really caught a break on this one.

It was 3rd and 5 with 3:53 left in the 3rd quarter and the Broncos had driven the ball to about the Raiders 8 yard line. Denver is going to run a double slant concept that will get the “F” receiver wide open in the endzone. Flacco delivers a perfect strike to the receivers numbers, only to have the ball bounce off his chest and fall incomplete.

Denver had to settle for another one of their 3 made field goals in this game. These last two plays account for 7 points that the Broncos left on the field in a game decided by just 8 points. While this play can be chalked up to luck, Denver was held to 1 of 4 (25%) in the redzone. Giving up yards isn’t the real determining factor of a quality of a defense anymore, as it’s more about keeping the other team out of the endzone. The Raiders won Monday’s game because they did a great job of doing so.

It’s only one game in a marathon of a season but it was a dominate showing for the Raiders. The offense was aggressive for most of the game and the defense was relentless. If the Raiders can continue to put up plays like these, fans will be celebrating plenty more in the weeks ahead.

Twitter: @ChrisReed_NFL

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