Las Vegas Raiders defeat Denver Broncos in thrilling 2023 season opener

It wasn't always pretty, but the Las Vegas Raiders have officially started their season with a win.

Las Vegas Raiders, Jakobi Meyers, Wide Receiver #16
Las Vegas Raiders, Jakobi Meyers, Wide Receiver #16 / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages

The Las Vegas Raiders have officially started their season with a win after going on the road to defeat the Denver Broncos. It was an exciting, physical, and brutal war of attrition between the two AFC West rivals all afternoon on Sunday. From the first snap, new Broncos head coach, Sean Payton, attempted to set the tone.

Fortunately, Denver's special team unit touched the ball illegally before it went 10 yards, resulting in the Raiders' football. Instead of Russell Wilson and company striking first, the Silver and Black's new quarterback helped the Raiders jump out to a 7-0 lead on an impressive opening drive.

From that point forward, the Raiders defense was on the spotlight for most of the day.

The Raiders defense bent, but did not break.

Before this game started, the big question was how the Denver Broncos offense would look with former Super Bowl champion and offensive-minded head coach Sean Payton calling the shots. With numerous different formations and packages, the Raiders could hold Russell Wilson to an average of 5.5 yards per attempt.

Additionally, they contained him in the pocket to only scramble on one occasion for one yard. Moreover, the run defense held the rushing attack led by Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine to under 100 total yards on the ground. There were plenty of moments when the Silver and Black's defense looked outclassed.

However, Maxx Crosby was a madman on the field and had one sack, two quarterback hits, and 5 tackles on the day.

For a unit that seemed disorganized at times and was on the field for roughly 33 minutes - they managed not to allow a touchdown in the second half. This enabled Jimmy Garoppolo and company to stay within striking distance when it mattered most.

The Raiders pulled it out in the end despite a sloppy perfomance.

As mentioned above, the Las Vegas Raiders didn't have their best day, with 10 penalties, plenty of missed tackles, and quite a few breakdowns in coverage assignments on defense. However, they fought til the end and got the result everyone wanted on opening week - a victory. Thanks to two touchdown duo of starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and receiver Jakobi Meyers - the Raiders sit on top of the AFC West alone.

Overall, it's a solid starting point for a team with numerous new pieces before they face the Super Bowl hopefuls in the Josh Allen-led Buffalo Bills next Sunday. It extends their win streak against their AFC West rival to seven consecutive games now.