No Brown, no worries as Raiders beat Broncos
The Oakland Raiders and their fans wanted an answer to the big question entering Monday's game against the Denver Broncos: How will the team do without Antonio Brown?
Oakland received their answer and shut out the Broncos in the first half before posting a 24-16 win in their NFL opener.
The fans? Well, they certainly had something to say about the past week that ended with Brown's eventual release just two days before the game.
By the end of the matchup, Brown's name was being used less and less while quarterback Derek Carr settled in with his new offense.
The Broncos also started the season with new personnel. Denver came to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with a new head coach, new co-ordinators and a new starting quarterback. But their debut did not go as smoothly.
Here are three takeaways from the Raiders' win over the Broncos.
Raiders offense seemingly just fine
Yes, it is only Week 1. Yes, the Raiders still have a lot of work to do. But with all the spotlight on Oakland over the last week, the team came out strong against their long-time AFC West rivals.
Carr orchestrated the win with almost an entirely new offense. There are new starters at tight end and fullback, a new receiving corps, a reconstructed offensive line led by tackle Trent Brown, who joined the Raiders this offseason, and a rookie running back in Josh Jacobs.
The Raiders showed off a balanced attack throughout the game. Carr connected with Tyrell Williams for a quick eight-yard score.
Then, he handed the ball off to Jacobs near the goal line. He would carry the ball into the end zone one more time.
Carr finished 22-of-26 passing for 259 yards and the touchdown. Williams, who came to the Raiders by way of the Los Angeles Chargers in the offseason, led Oakland with 105 yards and the score on six catches. Jacobs impressed in his debut with 23 carries for 85 yards and his two touchdowns.
Flacco came up short on Broncos debut
It is all about the new for these two teams and the Broncos had a new face under centre.
Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco was tasked with stringing together all the moving parts, including another veteran in his first year with the team, head coach Vic Fangio.
But it was not the start either were hoping for. Nothing ever really got going in the new Flacco era, minus a few impressive completions you would expect from a 12-year QB.
The Broncos barely used a now healthy Emmanuel Sanders, who showed his explosiveness late in the game by helping Denver get into the end zone for their only touchdown of the night.
Flacco ultimately finished with 268 yards and one touchdown on 21-of-31 passing. Instead of Sanders, it was Courtland Sutton who led Denver's receivers. He finished with 120 yards on seven receptions.
Raiders defense delivered
With a name like Von Miller, one would expect Denver's defensive unit to steal the show. However, that was not the case on Monday. It was the Raiders' defense that had an impressive outing.
After holding the Broncos to zero points in the first half, the Raiders minimised Denver's scoring opportunities.
When Denver did get into the red zone, they succumbed to Oakland's pressure, which tallied three sacks, until the Broncos eventually scored their late TD.
For one game at least, the Raiders made a big improvement from last season.