Raiders look crisp without Antonio Brown in Week 1, have their way in victory over Broncos

 cbssports.com  09/10/2019 13:29:00   Patrik Walker

No Antonio Brown? No problem.

You could also take that literally, considering all the 31-year-old brought to the Oakland Raiders in his short stay was problem after problem before things escalated to a premature divorce. The team gave up a third- and fifth-round pick in March to alleviate the Pittsburgh Steelers of the All-Pro's antics, but found themselves in over their head as they tried to navigate through helmet grievances and frostbitten feet that led to Brown missing the majority of training camp. With those issues finally behind them, the Raiders looked forward to having Brown back on the field and participating like any other player on the roster, but they discovered -- yet again -- that he isn't like any other player on the roster.

Following an altercation with general manager Mike Mayock that allegedly included Brown using a racial slur, which led to a 48-hour whirlwind of events, the volatile wide receiver demanded his release via social media and was subsequently granted it only two days before the Raiders were to host the Denver Broncos; with Brown immediately heading east to join the New England Patriots.

With Brown jettisoned, many questioned what quarterback Derek Carr and Co. would look like sans the No. 1 receiver, but it turns out that -- at least for Week 1 -- you can't miss what you never had.

Carr came out of the gates firing against the Broncos, and never looked back. Without a true star wideout to key in on, he split the majority of his targets between wide receiver Tyrell Williams and tight end Darren Waller, and to stupendous results. Williams led the team with 105 yards and a touchdown while looking back to the same form that led him to a 1,000-yard season with the Chargers in 2016, and Waller added 70 yards of his own to the effort -- reeling in seven of his eight targets on the evening. Mix in three catches by Ryan Grant and two by rookie fifth-round pick Hunter Renfrow, and the Raiders didn't need the problematic Brown in Week 1 to down the Broncos with a 24-16 final score.

Carr finished with 259 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions on 22-of-26 passing, and Josh Jacobs added 85 rushing yards on 23 attempts to keep a usually stout Denver pass rush -- led by Von Miller and Bradley Chubb -- on bricks for most of the contest. A quarterback-hungry defense left just as starved as when they arrived, landing no sacks or QB hits whatsoever against Carr, and he had his way with his merry band of NFL outcasts and young, hungry talent.

As profane chants regarding Antonio Brown rained down from the rafters on a successful night for the Raiders, they can now move forward feeling confident in their decision to send him packing. How Brown's absence plays out in the long run is anyone's guess but, at least for one night, his services were not needed.

In the end, business was definitely booming in Oakland on Monday Night Football, and everyone wore the correct helmet.

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