The Denver Broncos lost in a road contest against AFC West divisional rival Las Vegas Raiders 32-23 after offensive miscues, injuries, and lack of execution impacted Denver in the second half. How did the Broncos falter in a tale of two halves?

Denver Broncos showcase promise in first half vs. Raiders

The Broncos offense has to find a way to move forward more often than they are moving backward.

On Denver’s first offensive drive of the game, the Raiders capitalized by tackling Javonte Williams for a four-yard loss to force them to face a 2nd and 14.

Two plays later, the Raiders brought cornerback Nate Hobbs with a nickel blitz off the left side, sacking Russell Wilson and forcing Denver to punt it away on their first possession.

Denver’s defense, however, would respond in a big way as D.J. Jones got home on Derek Carr for a sack for an eight-yard loss. On the very next play, Montrell Washington cut inside on a punt return, returning it 30 yards and deep into Raiders territory.

Wilson’s second offensive drive opened things up with him finding tight end Eric Saubert up the seam for a 25-yard catch, putting the Broncos offense in red zone territory.

One question many wondered going into the game was, “Would the Broncos red zone woes continue?”

Courtland Sutton took things into his own hands as Wilson connected with him in the back of the end zone to give Denver a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter.

The Raiders next offensive drive featured them marching downfield, chunking away on an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a Josh Jacobs rushing touchdown to give Las Vegas a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Wilson and the Broncos offense got a chance to respond after the Raiders failed to recover a surprise onside kick, giving Denver the ball past mid-field.

On 3rd and 6, Wilson connected with Jerry Jeudy for a 32-yard catch down the right sideline to put the Broncos offense in the red zone for the second time of the afternoon.

After Jeudy’s catch, a penalty on the Broncos offense backed them up five yards. Denver went backwards after the Raiders sniffed out a screen pass for Javonte Williams. Las Vegas’ defense protected the sticks short, forcing the Broncos to face a 3rd and 16.

Wilson scrambled and found Sutton for a nine-yard gain forcing a 4th and 8, prompting Brandon McManus to kick a 27-yard field goal, knotting the score up at 10-10.

Denver’s defense came up big on the ensuing drive, forcing the Raiders to punt to Washington once again who razzled his way up the middle for a 19-yard return to midfield. That once again provided the Broncos offense with strong field position.

Facing a 3rd and 9, Wilson scrambled for an eight-yard gain, falling just one-yard shy of the first down marker. Nathaniel Hackett opted to go for it, handing it to Williams who barreled past the marker for a first down.

Negative plays were critical once again. On the very next play, Melvin Gordon lost the football landing in the hands of Raiders cornerback Amik Robertson who returned it 68 yards for a touchdown.

How did Denver respond?

On the ensuing drive, Williams resumed ball-carrier duties, ripping off consecutive runs of nine yards and 13 yards to bring the Broncos offense close to mid-field.

Big play needed? Call Kendall Hinton. Wilson found the undrafted gem for a 35-yard gain. On the next play, Wilson dialed up a 20-yard strike to Jerry Jeudy for a touchdown, unfortunately, Maxx Crosby blocked McManus’ PAT attempt keeping the score tied at 16-16.

Denver’s defense struggled with surrendering chunk plays on the two-minute drive which allowed the Raiders to kick a field goal to take a 19-16 lead going into halftime.

Broncos second half offense struggles, Denver loses Javonte Williams to injury

On the Broncos first play from scrimmage in the second half, Williams went down with a knee injury and had to be helped off the field. He was shortly carted off to the locker room. Mike Boone came in immediately, springing together a 13-yard run to give Denver a first down.

Three plays later, Maxx Crosby came through clean on the inside on a stunt, sacking Russell Wilson for a seven-yard loss, forcing Denver to punt.

Denver’s defense faced the stiff test of trying to slow down a Raiders offense that moved the ball for 182 yards against them in the first half.

Carr and the Raiders offense picked up an initial first down on their ensuing drive, but would punt after Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero sent K’Waun Williams on a nickel blitz, bringing down Carr for a seven-yard loss.

Once again, a Montrell Washington 16-yard return gave the Broncos offense great field position at mid-field. Unfortunately, Denver’s offense went backward on a crucial third-down play after Crosby came screaming off the right side freely for a sack on Russell Wilson for a nine-yard loss.

Going forward, the Broncos offense needs to look at their options on the right side of their offensive line, an area opposing defenses seem to be targeting with pressure often.

Momentum or the loss of it is a real thing in the NFL. On the Raiders ensuing drive, the Broncos defense was gashed by Josh Jacobs who scampered off a 42-yard run, followed by a 13-yard catch to the Denver one-yard line by Darren Waller. Luckily, the Broncos defense held up firm, forcing the Raiders to kick a 22-yard field goal to extend their lead to 22-16.

The Raiders 10-play, 77-yard drive took nearly five minutes off the clock, applying pressure to the Broncos offense to have to answer.

On second down, a holding call on left tackle Garett Bolles backed the Broncos offense up to 2nd and 20. Wilson attempted a downfield shot to Kendall Hinton, but it fell incomplete, forcing Denver to face a 3rd and 20, but the Raiders defense played deep to keep everything in front of them, forcing Denver to throw short. Another punt.

Denver’s offense would get the ball back to start the fourth quarter on their own one-yard line after A.J. Cole’s 62-yard punt pinned Denver back deep. The Raiders defense pinned their ears back and flustered the Broncos, forcing another punt.

The Raiders would march downfield on their next possession before settling for a field goal, extending their lead to 25-16 with 9:50 left in the fourth quarter.

Momentum-wise, the Broncos offense faced their biggest drive of the game. Facing a 3rd and 10, Russell Wilson scrambled for a 13-yard gain to give Denver a first down. However, back to back holding calls pushed Denver backward once again forcing Denver to face a 1st and 30.

The Raiders were then called for a penalty, bringing it to 1st and 25. On the very next play, Russell Wilson found Courtland Sutton across the field for an 18-yard pickup. Needing a big play, Wilson uncorked a 55-yard pass to KJ Hamler who got behind the Raiders secondary, putting the Broncos in business. Wilson capped off the drive by calling his own number and running it in from three yards out to cut the Raiders lead to 25-23.

Now, the pressure rested on the Broncos defense as “Let’s Go Broncos” chants echoed throughout Allegiant Stadium. Could they get a stop?

Facing a 3rd and 6, the Broncos protected with good pass coverage, but Carr scrambled outside the pocket for a first down to keep their drive going. Randy Gregory went down on the same play with what appeared to be a right leg injury.

Denver couldn’t get off the field or get a stop as the Raiders continued to milk the clock with first downs by Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs keeping their drive alive. The clock ticked under three minutes. Three playes later, Jacobs capped off the drive with a seven-yard rushing touchdown, signifying a dagger to the Broncos hopes of winning.

With the loss, the Broncos drop to 2-2 on the season and face a short turnaround on Thursday Night when the Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1) come to town.

How will the injuries to Javonte Williams, Randy Gregory, and P.J. Locke impact Denver this week?

Stay tuned at Mile High Sports for coverage leading up to Thursday’s kickoff.

Broncos Postgame Quotes

The feeling of disappointment was present in the Broncos locker room following Sunday’s road loss, but players also expressed frustration over missed opportunities and self-inflicted mistakes. Through that frustration, a common theme of eagerness to bounce back was equally present inside of the locker room.

Through four games, the Broncos offense has shown promising things amidst struggling to find consistency. Team captain Courtland Sutton acknowledged that the offense has to get out of their own way.

“Those are those setbacks,” Sutton said regarding offensive miscues. “We control them. As we’ve seen time and time again, our offense can roll and move the ball, whenever we set ourselves back it hinders us and winds up coming back to bite us in the butt.”

Facing a short turnaround to prepare for the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday Night Football, Sutton said it will be crucial for him and his teammates to learn from Sunday’s game and flush it out of their system prior to Thursday.

“We go in, watch this film, learn from the mistakes,” Sutton said. “There’s a lot of good and bad on the film from this game, we can’t just put it to bed and completely put it away. We’ve got to go in, learn from it and walk right into Indy.”

Sutton also noted that it’s on them to fix the issues that have been hindering them.

“It’s on us to go in, as the coaches would say not be sensitive about the things we need to fix, go in there to get those things corrected because we can’t keep coming back and us having the same conversation of ‘we’re right there, we’re right there.’ Eventually, it’s going to be too late if we continue to have those ‘right there’s. It’s on us to go in there and be pros about it, and move forward so that we can have the best week of mental prep and as much physical prep as we can going into Thursday.”

Broncos offensive guard Dalton Risner is eager for how he and his teammates have too regroup from Sunday’s performance against the Raiders.

“Because we love these guys,” Risner said in the locker room post-game. “We love this team. We love the staff, it isn’t hard to regroup. We’ve got all the confidence in the world for each other, it isn’t hard to regroup one bit. I’m glad we’ve got a game in three days, four days, that’s the best right? You get to get this taste out of your mouth and go back and get another win and get back on the plus side of the win column this season. We love each other too much, we love this staff too much, and we love this organization too much. We put too much blood, sweat, and tears into this to struggle with regrouping after a loss like that.”

It was a rough afternoon for running back Melvin Gordon who had one fumble on the afternoon that led to a touchdown for the Raiders defense.

Gordon, emotional at the podium, faced the media.

“My job is to go out there and make plays, hold onto the ball, and help put this team in the best position to win,” Gordon said after the game. “I didn’t do that today.”

Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson came out after the game and expressed support for Gordon.

“There’s going to be some mistakes along the way,” Wilson said. “The best ones, they respond. And I believe in Melvin Gordon responding and I know he’s going to.”

As for the Broncos offense, how do they get back on track with such a short turnaround this week?

“I think that we’re right there,” Wilson said in his post-game press conference. “I think we did some really special things tonight, we picked up the tempo, we made some great plays. I think we battled, we did some really great things. How do you get the guys back into it, how could you not? What a great opportunity to respond, that’s what championship-type teams do. We’ve got to respond, we’ve got to battle, we’ve got to overcome obstacles. We’ve got to be battle tested and have to be able to respond in a great way.”

Denver’s offense will look to respond on Thursday amidst the uncertainty on the status of Javonte Williams’ injury.

Denver Broncos news and notes

Broncos rookie Special Teams standout

Rookie wide receiver Montrell Washington helped the Broncos orchestrate a scoring drive midway through the first quarter. His 30-yard return sparked the Broncos offense. Washington sparked the offense once again in the second quarter with a 19-yard return. In the second half, Washington’s 16-yard return in the third quarter brought Denver to mid-field.

Risner and Jones active

Prior to kickoff, two players on the Broncos injury report who were listed as questionable played on Sunday. Dalton Risner (ankle) and D.J. Jones (concussion protocol) both played in Denver’s loss.

Gameday inactives

The Broncos Week 4 inactives list were as follows on Sunday.
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Jalen Virgil was inactive for the fourth consecutive week
Wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (hamstring) missed due to injury.
Cornerback Darius Phillips (hamstring) missed due to injury.
Outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper (hamstring) missed due to injury.
Offensive tackle Billy Turner (knee) missed due to injury.
Offensive guard Quinn Meinerz (hamstring) missed due to injury.
Rookie defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike was inactive for the fourth consecutive week.

Broncos injury report vs. Raiders

Safety P.J. Locke (concussion) was injured on the opening kickoff and was evaluated for a concussion. He did not return to Sunday’s game.

Running back Javonte Williams (knee) was carted off during Sunday’s loss and was immediately ruled out of play. He was seen post-game in the locker room on crutches.

Outside linebacker Randy Gregory (knee) was injured late in the fourth quarter and was carted back to the locker room and did not return.

Outside linebacker and key special teams ace Aaron Patrick (head) did not return after sustaining a concussion in Sunday’s loss.

Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett stated in his post-game press conference that both Williams and Gregory will undergo MRI’s on Monday to find out the full extent of their injuries.