The Las Vegas Raiders seemingly would have trouble beating any team in the National Football League right now, but it might give them confidence ahead of Sunday’s game at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver knowing that they defeated their AFC West rival Denver Broncos earlier this season.
In fact, the Raiders’ 32-23 victory at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was their fifth consecutive victory over the Broncos and seventh in the last eight games the teams have played.
Josh Jacobs rushed for a career-high 144 yards on 28 carries and scored on runs of 10 and seven yards, and Daniel Carlson kicked field goals of 26, 39, 22, and 30 yards as the Raiders won for the first time this season after losing their first three games.
Defensive end Maxx Crosby also played a key role for the Silver and Black, as he had two sacks of quarterback Russell Wilson, two tackles for losses, and two quarterback hits as the Raiders avoided going 0-4 for the first time since 2014.
“I loved our effort, I loved our attitude,” first-year Coach Josh McDaniels told reporters after his first victory with Las Vegas. “I loved our toughness and our competitive attitude the finish the game.”
Those qualities seem to be missing recently, as the Raiders (2-7) are on another three-game losing streak as they head to the Mile High City, while the Broncos (3-6) have problems of their own with five losses in their last six games starting in Las Vegas, after opening the season with two victories in their first three games.
It doesn’t seem like much, but if the Raiders can find a way to win, they will pull out of sole possession of the AFC West cellar and into a tie for third with Denver.
The Raiders and Broncos have been playing at least twice a year since 1960, when they were charter members of the American Football League, and with their latest surge the Silver and Black lead the series, 70-54-2.
Some of the greatest games in the series came when Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, who led the Broncos to victories in Super Bowls XXII and XXIII, and played in Denver from 1983-98, with the Raiders holding a 15-13 victory in games against Elway.
As has been noted before here on Raider Maven, long-time members of Raider Nation believe Elway should have been wearing Silver and Black for all those seasons because Managing General Partner Al Davis had arranged a trade with the Baltimore Colts for the No. 1 overall pick of the 1983 NFL Draft.
However, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle blocked the deal, saying it would offset the balance of power in the NFL. Of course, Rozelle never got along with Davis, who was his rival commissioner with the AFL during the Pro Football War during the 1970s.
Many people believe that’s why Rozelle wouldn’t let Davis and the Raiders have Elway, who everyone knew was destined to be one of the all-time greats. So the Colts made a deal for Elway with the Broncos.
“We almost had Elway, but Pete Rozelle voided the trade,” said former Raiders personnel executive Ron Wolf, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “We had the trade set up with Baltimore, but Pete wouldn’t let it happen.”
The only time the Raiders played the Broncos in the post-season with Elway at quarterback came in a 1993 AFC Wild Card Game at Memorial Stadium in Los Angeles, where Jeff Hostetler threw three touchdown passes and Napoleon McCallum ran for three scores to offset three TD passes by Elway in a 42-24 victory for the Silver and Black.
The Raiders lost to the Buffalo Bills, 29-23, in an AFC Divisional playoff game the next week.
Taking into consideration games like that, one of the lingering questions of Raider Nation is how many Super Bowls the Raiders might have won if not for Rozelle and if they had Elway at quarterback.
The Raiders' game is on Sunday in Denver and kicks off at 4:05 p.m. EST/1:05 p.m. PST. You can see that game on FOX.
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