DENVER – Derek Carr sliced up the Denver defense for 341 yards and two touchdowns, Maxx Crosby made three sacks and the Las Vegas Raiders started the post-Jon Gruden era with a 34-24 thrashing of the bewildered Broncos on Sunday.
The Raiders (4-2) gave longtime special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia a win in his debut as interim head coach and offensive coordinator Greg Olson was masterful in his first play-calling duties for Las Vegas since Carr's rookie season in 2014.
“The best part for me was to get on the grass,” Bisaccia said. “The worst part for me was figuring out the headset. Once you get on the field and the game goes, a lot of our responsibilities were the same. There was really good dialogue" with his coordinators."
“Oh, there’s a button on there and I have to press it if I want to talk,” Bisaccia explained. “Back in the day when I wore a headset set we didn’t have all those buttons.”
The Raiders began by ending an 11-game streak without a score on their opening drive. They never let up, burning the Broncos' beleaguered secondary that couldn't keep up with Carr and his targets.
“Simply put we got our butts whooped,” Broncos safety Justin Simmons said after Denver allowed seven pass plays of at least 25 yards. “I know there’s going to be questions about the secondary. We’ve got to play better. I’ve got to play better and I’m going to get this figured out."
Nor could Denver's deficient offense keep pace. Teddy Bridgewater threw a season-high three interceptions and lost a fumble, negating his 334 yards passing and three TDs.
The Broncos (3-3) lost their third consecutive game, but the other defeats came at the hands of Ravens and Steelers and their veteran head coaches John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin.
This one had to sting coach Vic Fangio, whose Broncos have a short week before a Thursday night game at Cleveland with the possibility they'll fall below .500 just 25 days after starting 3-0.
Von Miller embraced the quick turnaround. Beat him, he said, and he wants another crack at it, whether that's in a card game, a video game or a football game.
“I want another shot at it super quick, so there's no better time to do it," Miller said. “We've got 96 hours to get it done. I like it like this. I want to get the taste out of our mouths as fast as possible. I want to play right now and it's a perfect situation to be in.”
The Broncos’ humiliation came on a day they inducted former coach Mike Shanahan into their Ring of Fame and honored Steve Atwater’s long-awaited entrance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Raiders appeared to have a season on the brink after Gruden resigned Monday night when it was revealed emails he sent before being hired in 2018 contained racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments directed at several people in the NFL.
But the Raiders didn't seem one bit bothered by the chaos as they moved into a tie atop the AFC West with the Chargers, who were throttled 34-6 by Baltimore.
Crosby was in on five sacks, one of which came just before halftime, right after the Raiders took a 17-7 lead on Carr's 31-yard touchdown toss to running back Kenyon Drake. Linebacker Alexander Johnson never turned his head as Drake hauled in the pass and tiptoed down the Raiders sideline, capping a five-play 82-yard drive that took just 31 seconds.
Drake's 18-yard touchdown run made it 24-7 in the third quarter, essentially ending any doubt Bisaccia's head coaching debut after spending two decades as a special teams coordinator would be a success.
Las Vegas opened the scoring on a 48-yard pass from Carr to Henry Ruggs III, who sped past cornerback Ronald Darby, playing for the first time since pulling a hamstring in the opener. The Raiders failed to score on their first possession in the previous 11 games for the longest active drought in the NFL.
The Broncos had gone even longer without scoring a TD on their first possession, the last one coming on Dec. 8, 2019, against Houston. They ended their 24-game streak when Bridgewater found Tim Patrick on a 23-yard pass to tie it.
Daniel Carlson's 50-yard field goal put Las Vegas up 10-7, but he hit the right upright on a 43-yarder as the Raiders failed to capitalize on cornerback Brandon Facyson's interception at midfield.
The Raiders didn't fritter away linebacker Denzel Perryman's recovery of Bridgewater's fumble in the second half. They cashed in on Josh Jacobs' 3-yard touchdown jaunt after Ruggs hauled in a 40-yard pass at the Denver 4 with Darby flailing at the floater.
The Broncos challenged the catch but lost — just as they were denied their challenge when they argued Noah Fant came down in the end zone with a 14-yard reception that would have pulled them within seven points in the third quarter.
Raiders LB Nick Kwiatkoski (foot) went out in the first half and S Roderic Teamer (shoulder) early in the fourth period. The Broncos announced at halftime that Johnson (chest) was out along with rookies linebackers Baron Browning (concussion) and Andre Mintze (hamstring). Johnson was replaced by Micah Kiser. Patrick slid on the tarp and into the Broncos bench in the fourth quarter and it appeared trainers were looking at his left leg.
Raiders: host the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday in advance of their bye.
Broncos: visit the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL