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Grading the Raiders’ win against the Broncos

OFFENSE: B-minus

The Raiders did well to keep possession —nearly 37 minutes of it — but things were a bit off at times. Dropped passes. Penalties. Not much rhythm over the first 30 minutes. But when you are again missing three starters on the offensive line and your lead back (Josh Jacobs) carries 21 times for 112 yards and two scores in a victory, passing marks have been earned all around. Derek Carr finished 16-of-25 for 154 yards on an afternoon he didn’t have to be great for Las Vegas to win. The Raiders have averaged nearly 200 yards rushing over the last two weeks, both AFC West wins. Carr completed passes to eight receivers, led by tight end Darren Waller (3-37, long of 24).

DEFENSE: A

Las Vegas had little trouble supporting a popular mantra: Don’t let a bad quarterback beat you. The Raiders intercepted Drew Lock four times — twice by Jeff Heath and the others by Carl Nassib and Nick Kwiatkoski— in limiting Denver to 313 yards. Nevin Lawson also caused and recovered a fumble at the Denver 7. One play later, the Raiders scored to make it 30-6. Sacks went to Maxx Crosby and Nicholas Morrow, while Las Vegas had seven quarterback hits on Lock and 10 passes defended. For the second time in as many weeks, Kwiatkoski led the Raiders in tackles with eight. Las Vegas played without starting linebacker Cory Littleton (COVID-19 list).

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

Strong stuff here. Denver’s best starting field possession was its 29. It began drives at its 3, 7, 2, and 7. Between punter AJ Cole (43.5 average on four attempts with a long of 61) and the Las Vegas cover units, the Broncos were seemingly pinned all afternoon. But a foolish blindside block penalty from Las Vegas safety Johnathan Abram erased what would have been a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown by Hunter Renfrow. In fact, a pair of penalties cost the Raiders nearly 90 yards in returns. Daniel Carlson — who made field-goal attempts of 24, 52 and 22 yards — was again money.

COACHING: B

Play was sloppy and undisciplined in parts against an inferior team. Not the sharpest of performances. But wins are precious and there’s no question Jon Gruden’s team was the best side. Offensive line coach Tom Cable still has the patchwork front performing at a high level. Huge day for defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and his crew. A big step up in competition awaits on Sunday Night Football when the Super Bowl champion Chiefs visits Allegiant Stadium for the first time. Las Vegas trails first-place Kansas City by two games in the AFC West.

— Ed Graney Review-Journal

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