The Denver Broncos dropped to 3-7 in Sunday’s home overtime loss against the Las Vegas Raiders after several big plays made the difference in this game. Despite a change in offensive play-caller, the Broncos offense still only put up 16 points.

Broncos change playcaller, lose sixth straight to the Raiders

It was announced early Sunday morning that Broncos passing game coordinator and quarterback coach Klint Kubiak would take on playcalling responsibilities after Nathaniel Hackett handed it off to him early in the week.

How big of a difference can a change like this make for the NFL’s bottom-ranked offense? Russell Wilson’s first drive with Kubiak on the headset resulted in a touchdown that gave Denver an early 7-0 lead after Latavius Murray punched it in from one yard out. On that 7-play 92-yard drive, the Broncos’ offense utilized the quick passing game to get Wilson in rhythm, connecting on throws to Greg Dulcich, Courtland Sutton who also drew a pass interference call, and Kendall Hinton who snagged a 33-yard catch and run down to the half yard line.

After the Raiders missed a field-goal attempt early in the second quarter, Denver’s offense moved the ball past midfield after several plays with an uptempo approach. The offense stalled out after Courtland Sutton dropped a pass on 3rd and 9, but a Brandon McManus field goal gave Denver a 10-0 lead.

Last week against the Tennessee Titans, Denver took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter but faltered in the second half. Could the Broncos avoid letting the same thing happen this time around?

For Denver’s defense, they were tasked with trying to prohibit Raiders running back Josh Jacobs from having a repeat performance of their first matchup that saw him rush for over 140 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Early on, Jacobs continued his hot streak against the Broncos, finishing the first quarter with 42 yards rushing on eight carries. Jacobs’ early gashing of the Broncos forced Denver to focus on stopping the run, allowing Carr to carve apart the secondary across the middle of the field. Carr found Davante Adams over the top for a 31-yard score that trimmed Denver’s lead to just three points midway into the second quarter.

With the Broncos set to get the ball back after halftime, Wilson and company took over on a drive that saw Hinton step up with several big catch and runs. After being flagged for an illegal blindside block earlier in the drive, Courtland Sutton came up with a big catch on a back-shoulder throw that put Denver’s offense inside the red zone. Unfortunately, the Broncos had back-to-back plays that epitomized how this season has gone for them. Melvin Gordon lost the football on the three-yard line, which was luckily recovered by Quinn Meinerz. Maxx Crosby made that play and then blocked McManus’s ensuing field goal attempt to send both teams into halftime with Denver leading 10-7.

The quick passing emphasis benefitted Wilson and the Broncos in the first half. Wilson finished the first half of play going 13 of 15 passing for 147 yards and a passer rating of 107.5. With some of the injuries on the offensive line, the quick passing approach allowed Denver to settle in and negate pressure from the Las Vegas defense.

Despite the Broncos’ loss of wide receiver Jerry Jeudy last week, they found relief in Kendall Hinton who stepped into Jeudy’s role. His chemistry with Wilson was on display as the two connected for three catches in the first half for 57 yards, showcasing how reliable Hinton has been for the Denver offense.

The Broncos opened up the second half how they have nearly all season long, punting the ball away after going three and out and Russell Wilson being sacked under pressure. After the Raiders tied things up 10-10 after a Carlson field goal, Denver’s offense took the field once again, looking to shake off the previous drive. The result was more of the same with the drive ending in another punt that gave the Raiders the football on their own 33-yard line.

Denver’s defense would hold firm on the ensuing drive and the offense had decent field position after a Montrell Washington 18-yard punt return. The Broncos’ offense moved downfield after Wilson connected with Sutton for a 23-yard gain, but Denver was forced to settle for a 52-yard field goal attempt, elevating the Broncos to a 13-10 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.

With a lead in the fourth quarter, the Broncos defense was tasked with stopping Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, and Davante Adams who made up nearly all of Las Vegas production offensively on the day. The Broncos quickly forced the Raiders to go three and out, their first of the entire game. However, the momentum would be short-lived as a Raiders nickel defender sacked Wilson off the left side.

Carlson tied the game up at 13 apiece after booting in a 57-yard field goal, giving the Broncos offense the ball back with a chance to take the lead. Wilson connected with undrafted rookie receiver Brandon Johnson who hauled in his first catch, Sutton twice, and Gordon for a massive catch and run downfield that set up a McManus 48-yard field goal to give Denver a 16-13 lead with 3:30 left.

Denver’s defense was up again, this time playing with a lead and limited time remaining. The Broncos’ defense came up big on second and third down, forcing back-to-back incomplete passes including a huge pass breakup by rookie cornerback Damarri Mathis that forced Vegas to punt. Wilson and the Broncos offense took over with 3:04 remaining in the fourth quarter with a chance to put the game away.

Wilson couldn’t connect with Kendall Hinton on 3rd and 10, resulting in the Broncos punting it away, giving Carr and the Raiders offense the ball with 1:43 remaining and no timeouts. Denver’s defense would need to get a stop in order to hold on and secure the win.

Carr and the Raiders diced up the Broncos’ defense quickly with chunk plays of 21 yards and 43 yards that brought them quickly to Denver’s seven-yard line. Denver’s defense held firm, forcing Carlson to kick a field goal to tie things up at 16.


The Broncos defense would be on the field first after the Raiders won the toss and elected to receive the kickoff. Denver’s defense would allow a huge 33-yard catch and run by Raiders tight end Foster Moreau. On the very next play, Denver would lose the game as Davante Adams hauled in his second touchdown of the game with nobody near him.

Denver drops to 3-7 on the season as they now prepare to take on the Carolina Panthers on the road next week.

Denver Broncos news and notes vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Injured Broncos making progress.
Prior to Sunday’s game against the Raiders, Broncos wide receiver KJ Hamler (hamstring) and tight end Andrew Beck (hamstring) participated in an on-field workout with Strength and Conditioning coach Loren Landow. Both players appeared to move well. Earlier in the week, Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said that Hamler would miss the next several weeks as the team is cautious with his return. Beck’s timeline is still considered week-to-week.

Broncos injury report.
Defensive lineman Jonathan Harris (knee) went down in the first quarter and did not return. Running back Chase Edmonds suffered an ankle injury early in the first quarter of play and did not return.

Cody Roark is Mile High Sports lead reporter covering the Denver Broncos — Cody covers every practice, every home and away game plus community events related to the organization. He also co-hosts The Afternoon Drive with Aniello Piro on Mile High Sports Radio and is the host of the Locked On Broncos podcast. You can follow Cody on Twitter and Instagram @CodyRoarkNFL.