In first game after Jon Gruden's resignation, focused Raiders blow out Broncos

·3 min read

It was easy to believe that the Las Vegas Raiders would be distracted and deflated on Sunday after their head coach had to resign in shame this week. 

Instead, the Raiders looked angry and focused, and as good as they've looked all season. 

Jon Gruden resigned on Monday night after old emails with racist, anti-gay and misogynistic comments were leaked. Maybe the Raiders didn't need the coach that Raiders owner Mark Davis gave that 10-year, $100 million contract to. 

The Raiders were fantastic Sunday, giving interim coach Rich Bisaccia his first win as an NFL head coach. They soundly beat the Denver Broncos 34-24, outplaying them in just about every way. The win wasn't in ideal conditions certainly, but it had to feel good for longtime special teams coach Bisaccia. 

It had to feel pretty good for the Raiders as a whole. 

Kenyan Drake scores a touchdown during the Raiders' win over the Broncos. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Kenyan Drake scores a touchdown during the Raiders' win over the Broncos. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Raiders start fast in Denver

The Raiders came out ready. They scored their first touchdown on an opening drive in 12 games. An offensive coach like Gruden shouldn't have gone that long without scripting a game-opening touchdown drive. 

The Raiders did give up a touchdown on the Broncos' first drive, but tightened after that. The next touchdown the Broncos scored came with 11:16 left in the game, after the Raiders had built a 31-10 lead. The Broncos' final touchdown came in the final two minutes, with the outcome already decided. 

The Raiders hit many big plays on a Broncos defense that was expected to be one of the best in football. Henry Ruggs III, a first-round draft pick last season, continues to mature into a big-play threat. His 48-yard touchdown got the scoring going and a nice 40-yard catch set up a Josh Jacobs touchdown in the second half. Derek Carr played a fantastic game, as he'd done the first three weeks when the Raiders started 3-0. Carr finished with 341 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Raiders had a great start to the season but hadn't had a complete performance like Sunday. If you thought the Raiders would miss their disgraced coach, you were wrong. 

Raiders were focused in first post-Jon Gruden game

It won't be easy for the Raiders to maintain this energy the rest of the season. But Sunday was a good start. 

It's very unusual for a team to have its head coach depart during the season without it being for a terrible record. This was an unusual circumstance and it wouldn't have been surprising if the Raiders came out flat after a week in which the focus could have been on anything but football. 

It says something that the Raiders were sharper on Sunday than they had been for most of Gruden's second stint as their coach. A lot of credit should go to Bisaccia, who was able to get the Raiders to block out the noise and play a great game. Bisaccia has been a football coach since 1983, first in college and then the NFL. He'd never been a head coach before Sunday. At age 61, he got his chance and got his first win. Regardless of the situation, that's a pretty cool story. 

We'll see where the Raiders' season goes from here. But they were just fine without Gruden on Sunday. 

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