The Las Vegas Raiders had a big win to start their 2023 NFL season. They played against the Denver Broncos in Week 1 and won 17-16. This was an important win for the Raiders, and a lot of it had to do with their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. In this article, we'll take a closer look at how Garoppolo's performance helped the Raiders get their first win of the season.

Raiders' Win Over the Broncos

The Las Vegas Raiders have had a dominant record against the Denver Broncos in recent years, winning all of their games against them in the 2020, 2021, and 2022 seasons. In their first game of the 2023 season, the Raiders continued their winning streak against the Broncos, winning by one point at Empower Field at Mile High in Week 1. This win was significant because it marked the Raiders' seventh consecutive victory against the Broncos. The Broncos-Raiders rivalry is a long-standing one, with both teams competing in the AFC West division.

Even the arrival of new head coach Sean Payton couldn't spark a turnaround for Denver. Payton came back to coaching after a year-long break in the Fox broadcast booth with the primary goal of rejuvenating Russell Wilson's career following his challenging season. As such, Wilson performed noticeably better than he did in the previous year. In this game, he connected on 27 of 34 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions. However, in the second half, Wilson's passing game suffered. He only managed 52 yards through the air. This dip in performance coincided with tight end Greg Dulcich sustaining a knee injury and the Raiders intensifying their pass rush.

Now let us look at how quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo fared in his Raiders debut against the Broncos.

Crucial Role

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Jimmy Garoppolo played a crucial role in this game. This was his first game with the Raiders, and he showed why he's a valuable quarterback, especially in close games. With just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, he threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers. This gave the Raiders the lead. This also marked the 11th time in his NFL career that he led a game-winning drive.

The Broncos had taken the lead with a field goal, making it 16-10 with less than nine minutes to go. However, Garoppolo didn't let that discourage him or his team. The Raiders quickly moved down the field, covering 75 yards in just six plays in a little over two minutes. Garoppolo's touchdown pass to Meyers capped off this crucial scoring drive.

Coach Josh McDaniels also praised Garoppolo for his mental toughness and grit. These qualities are why the Raiders signed him to a three-year, $72.75 million contract in the offseason. If he continues to perform like this, it could be a wise investment for the team.

This game also added to Garoppolo's reputation for being clutch in the fourth quarter. He led his team to a 17-16 victory against a division rival and demonstrated his leadership qualities. His teammates respect him for his competitiveness and willingness to put his body on the line for the win.

Ups and Downs for Garoppolo

Of course, Garoppolo faced some challenges in the game as well. Early on, he took a hard hit while scrambling for a first down, which knocked him out for two plays. However, he quickly returned to the field after getting medical clearance and threw the game's first touchdown.

Despite the early success, the Raiders' offense struggled for a bit. They settled for a short field goal on their next drive, and Garoppolo made a significant mistake in the second half. He threw an interception in the end zone. This missed opportunity could have cost the Raiders the game.

Garoppolo acknowledged his mistake, calling it a “terrible, stupid decision.” He recognized the importance of taking the points when there's nothing available and praised his teammates for their belief in him.

Garoppolo, though, bounced back from this setback. He led a critical touchdown drive that included several long passes, and he finished it off with a six-yard touchdown pass to Meyers. On the final drive of the game, he sealed the victory with an eight-yard scramble on third-and-7. This ensured the Broncos didn't get another chance.

In total, Garoppolo completed 20 of 26 passes for 200 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He had a passer rating of 107.9. Keep in mind that he had just five games with 100+ passer ratings last season. It was an impressive debut for Garoppolo with the Raiders. Of course, it seemed like he had already developed good chemistry with his receivers, especially Jakobi Meyers and Davante Adams.

Looking Ahead

There is no doubt Garoppolo played a significant role in the Raiders' Week 1 win over the Broncos. While he faced some challenges and made a costly mistake, he showed his ability to come through in clutch moments and lead his team to victory. If Garoppolo can continue to perform at this level, the Raiders could become a formidable team in the AFC West this season. It's only one game, but there's reason for optimism in Las Vegas.