“It’s the biggest story in sports right now, and that’s what we talk about,” Carr said. “You turn the TV on, that’s what’s on. Personally, I have to keep my mind as focused as I can.”
They tried to focus on football throughout the day — Mayock said he discussed adding a new player with positional coaches, as he normally does. But Mayock said he and Dwayne Joseph, the Raiders’ director of pro personnel, ended up talking at length about the Gruden news. Mayock, who is white, said he wanted to understand Joseph’s perspective as a Black man.
“I just said: ‘D.J., I can’t put myself in your shoes. Help me,’” he said.
By Sunday, the changeover, though, appeared seamless from the outside. The offense scored on its first two drives, including a 48-yard strike from Carr to receiver Henry Ruggs III. It was the Raiders’ first touchdown in a first quarter this season.
Olson, who took over play-calling duties from Gruden, diversified the play-calling with a hurry-up offense. Carr finished with 341 yards and two touchdowns, completing nearly 67 percent of his passes without an interception. Running backs Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake scored rushing touchdowns. (Drake also caught a touchdown pass.)
At times, Denver looked like the team with a new staff. Coach Vic Fangio threw two challenge flags — an out-of-bounds touchdown catch by Noah Fant and a 40-yard catch by Ruggs — on plays that were upheld. Teddy Bridgewater, the journeyman quarterback, misfired on deep shots to receiver Courtland Sutton and finished with 334 yards and three touchdowns, despite being sacked him five times.
“There’s always crazy things going on, especially with the Raiders, but these guys that we have in this building are resilient,” said defensive end Maxx Crosby, who posted three sacks. “Everybody is talking about: ‘Oh, what are the Raiders going to do? Is the season over?’ We heard all of it.”
Bridgewater connected on a 14-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, making the score, 31-17. On the next drive, a holding penalty backed the Raiders up near their end zone, potentially allotting the Broncos prime field position. But Carr lofted a 51-yard pass to Bryan Edwards, a ball that he caught over his shoulder near the sideline. It allowed Las Vegas to kick a 30-yard field goal, widening the gap to 34-17.