The Denver Broncos lost the opening coin toss and the Las Vegas Raiders elected to defer possession to the second half giving Drew Lock and the Broncos offense the ball to start the game.
After opening up with a short three yard gain by Melvin Gordon, Drew Lock found Courtland Sutton on a first-read throw for six to setup a third and one that Lock converted on a quarterback sneak.
Getting Lock into a rhythm in the short game, he again went to his first read to Sutton for another four yards on first down. Those short plays drew the defense in which led to a fantastic throw outside to Sutton deep who was unable to keep his feet in bounds. The ball placement was solid from Lock on the throw, but Sutton just missed getting his second foot in.
Lock with a nice toss to Sutton, who can't stay inbounds. pic.twitter.com/kN6azUNmsY— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 26, 2021
Two plays later on third and long, Lock threw it well short of the sticks to end the Broncos first drive in a predictable punt. All but three opening drives this season for the Broncos have ended in a punt. An outstanding punt by Sam Martin, however, pinned the Raiders at their own four yard line for their first possession.
The Raiders first drive looked like it could end early after a timely holding call, but the complete lack of a pass rush by the Broncos on a third and three left a wide receiver open over the middle for a 15 yard gain and a first down out to their own 26-yard line.
That led to a finger tip diving catch by Hunter Renfrow to get the Raiders out near midfield before they would again face another third down and, this time, four. Malik Reed got pressure on Derek Carr to force an incomplete pass and a punt.
Gordon was stuffed on first down, then Javonte Williams caught a ball and powered his way through two tacklers for a seven yard gain. A roughing the passer penalty on Drew Lock gave Denver another 15 yards and a first down.
The drive looked like it was about to stall when Lock badly overthrew Albert Okwuegbunam, but on third and long Jerry Jeudy was held so badly that his jersey was nearly torn off to draw the defensive pass interference that put Denver across midfield.
December 26, 2021
Lock was sacked on first down by Mason Crosby. Lock had plenty of time to throw and did not feel the pressure collapsing to his left. A short run by Williams on second down setup another third and long. A predictable screen pass that netted two yards led to another Broncos punt.
The first quarter ended with the Raiders just driving across midfield.