Broncos offense struggles again in loss to previously winless Raiders

For the first time this season, they broke 20 points.

But there wasn't much else positive to take from a beleaguered Denver Broncos offense in a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. This time, the Denver defense came up short as well as the Raiders ran roughshod in a 32-23 win.

The win was the first of the season for the Raiders, keeping their dim season-long hopes alive after the only 0-3 start in the NFL. The Broncos, meanwhile, fell to 2-2 after a 2-1 start prompted alarm around the offense rather than celebration of the winning record.

The Broncos showed some promise in the first half as a pair of Russell Willson touchdown passes doubled his season total. But the Broncos picked up a single first down on the opening drive of the second half and followed up with three consecutive three-and-outs as the Raiders took control of the game.

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks to his bench after an incomplete pass against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
This is not the start that Russell Wilson and the Broncos envisioned. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Wilson added a late rushing touchdown to keep the pressure on. But the Raiders responded with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive to ice the game with 2:02 remaining on a Josh Jacobs touchdown run.

When it was done, a Raiders team that averaged 80 rushing yards per game in its 0-3 start ran for 212 yards on the Denver defense. Jacobs did the bulk of the damage with 144 yards and two scores on the ground. Las Vegas controlled the ball and the clock with 25 first downs against Denver's 12 while posting a 34:52-25:08 edge in time of possession. It outgained Denver 385 yards to 299.

After two subar outings, All-Pro receiver Davante Adams posted his second 100-yard effort in a Raiders uniform with 101 yards on nine catches. Derek Carr's passing game generated just 188 yards in the air, but that's all the Raiders needed alongside a punishing run game and a defense the scored a first-half touchdown off a Melvin Gordon fumble.

Broncos lose key players on both sides of ball

Making matters worse for Denver, the Broncos lost running back Javonte Williams to a second-half knee injury. Prior to the injury, the promising second-year running back appeared in line for more carries after backfield mate Gordon fumbled for the fourth time in four games. Now the Broncos await Williams' long-term prognosis while deciding how to manage a suddenly fumble-prone Gordon.

Third-string running back Mike Boone filled in during the second half. He dropped a wide open fourth-down pass from Wilson that hit him in the hands, ending Denver's day with the ball and summing up the state of the Broncos offense.

Making matters worse, Denver also lost a key defender when pass rusher and high-priced offseason acquisition Randy Gregory exited with a knee injury. The long-term status of both injured players wasn't immediately clear. Williams was on crutches after the game, and both are scheduled for MRIs on Monday.

The bright side for Denver is that Wilson had his best game in a Broncos uniform, completing 17-of-25 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers. He added 29 yards and the score on the ground while flashing the playmaking ability that prompted Denver to trade for him and sign him to a long-term contract extension. But it wasn't enough to beat a Raiders team that entered Sunday without a win.