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The Las Vegas Raiders were determined not to let Jon Gruden’s undoing lead to their own downfall.
They delivered an emphatic 34-24 victory in Denver for longtime special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, their interim head coach, snapping a two-game skid and propelling them into a first-place tie with the Chargers atop the AFC West.
“In this business there’s always crazy things going on, especially with the Raiders,” said defensive end Maxx Crosby, who was in on all five sacks of Teddy Bridgewater.
“There’s no mistake about it. Ever since I got here there’s always things going on. These guys we have in this building are resilient, from the coaching staff to the players to the trainers, everybody has a positive outlook on this organization,” Crosby said.
The outside chatter was loud and clear, too, he said.
“Everyone’s talking, ‘What are the Raiders going to do? Is the season over?’ We’ve heard all of it,” Crosby said. “For us to have a great week of practice and go out there and play good football, it’s a testament to all these guys in the locker room.”
Gruden apologized last weekend for racist comments he made about union chief DeMaurice Smith, and the Raiders were flat in a home loss to Chicago. But by Monday night, Gruden had tendered his resignation after it was revealed his old emails also disparaged gays, women and others in the NFL, including Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“Sometimes when you get punched in the gut it’s hard to bounce back, but we were able to do it,” said Derek Carr, who picked apart the Broncos’ beleaguered secondary with seven passes of at least 25 yards on his way to a 341-yard masterpiece that included a 48-yard TD toss to Henry Ruggs III.
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson was masterful in his first play-calling duties for Las Vegas since Carr’s rookie season in 2014.
“I thought it was great,” Carr said. “He had a great flow to the game, the communication and tone in the helmet, there are so many little things that matter to quarterbacks. He was giving the plays to me so early so I had time at the line of scrimmage to go fast or push the tempo or trick them.
“For everything he had to deal with this week and then being thrust into calling plays for the first time in a while, I thought he crushed it. He was awesome.”
The Raiders began the post-Gruden era with Ruggs’ long touchdown catch that ended an 11-game streak without a score on their opening drive and they never let up.
Carr scoffed at the notion the Raiders would fold without Gruden, who was in the fourth year of a 10-year, $100 million contract when it all unraveled for him a week ago.
“I’m still here as a leader,” Carr said, rattling off the veteran teammates that were right there with him: Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, Darren Waller, Josh Jacobs, Alec Ingold.
“I’m going to stop naming guys before I forget,” he concluded. “We still have our room of guys, our leaders. More now than ever, we needed to step up and be a voice. It’s fair to think that way, with everything going on.
“There will be a time to deal with the emotions of all that, but now is not the time,” Carr added. “If anything, it brought us closer.”
The Raiders (4-2) moved into a first-place tie in the AFC West with the Chargers, who were blown out by Baltimore, and are one game ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs and the reeling Broncos, losers of three straight after starting out 3-0 like the Raiders.
This victory was special “I think more for the organization as a whole, Carr suggested. “For us in the locker room, I know it sounds funny, but we compartmentalize things. We have a job to do. If anything, it heightened our intensity, heightened our focus. It brought us closer.
“But the win is a win. For the organization, it feels different for some people, but for me, you guys know me by now, I felt a certain way, but I had a job to do. Everyone felt that way, so when we won, it was, ‘Yes! Let’s go!’ But for the front office and other people in the organization, it was special, I’m sure.”
PONTOON BEACH, Ill. – Someone hit the jackpot at Casey’s General Store in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. The Illinois Lottery reports that a player matched all five numbers Sunday night. The winning “Lucky Day Lotto” ticket is worth $800,000.
Jackpots in the Lucky Day Lotto game start at $100,00 and increase in size until someone matches all five numbers. The game costs one dollar to play and the chances of hitting the jackpot are around one in 1,221,759. This makes it one of the best odds of any Illinois Lottery draw game.
ST. LOUIS – Five people were treated following a fire at an apartment building on the 5800 block of Selber Court in north St. Louis.
Our partners at the Post-Dispatch report a mother tossed her 3-year-old daughter from a second-story window to a neighbor on the ground at the Hillvale apartments.
The fire department says one of those patients includes a child. Three people were taken to the hospital.
The paper also says the fire started in a vacant, boarded-up unit. The Bomb and Arson squad was called to the scene as well.
Firefighters can be seen on the roof trying to knock out the flames. There is also smoke pouring out of the roof.
Bommarito Automotive SkyFOX is over the scene. Authorities appeared to be walking with at least one resident who made it out of the burning building.
The Red Cross is helping 3 residents.
By DON BABWIN
CHICAGO (AP) — Jussie Smollett staged a racist and homophobic assault and told police he was the victim after the television studio where he worked didn’t take hate mail he had received seriously, a prosecutor said during opening statements in the ex-“Empire” actor’s trial Monday.
Smollett has maintained he was the victim in the January 2019 attack in downtown Chicago. But special prosecutor Dan Webb said the actor recruited two brothers he worked with to help him carry out the fake attack. He then reported it to Chicago police, who classified it as a hate crime and spent 3,000 hours on the investigation.
“When he reported the fake hate crime that was a real crime,” Webb said.
Two brothers say Smollett paid them $3,500 to pose as his attackers on a frigid night in January 2019.
Webb was named as special prosecutor in the case after Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office dropped the original charges filed against Smollett. A new indictment was returned in 2020.
Smollett, who arrived at the courthouse in Chicago Monday with his mother and other family members, is accused of lying to police about the alleged attack and has been charged with felony disorderly conduct. The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said it is likely that if Smollett is convicted he would be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service.
Twelve jurors plus three alternate jurors were sworn in late Monday in a trial Judge James Linn said he expects to take about one week. During jury selection, Linn asked potential jurors if they have been the victim of a hate crime, if they have watched “Empire” or TMZ, a program and website about celebrities, or if they belong to any civil rights or pro-police organizations. Cameras are not allowed inside the courtroom and the proceedings are not being livestreamed, unlike in other recent high-profile trials.
Whether Smollett, who is Black and gay, will testify remains an open question. But the siblings, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, will take the witness stand where they are expected to repeat what they have told police officers and prosecutors: that they carried out the attack at Smollett’s behest.
Jurors also may see surveillance video from more than four dozen cameras that police reviewed to trace the brothers’ movements before and after the reported attack, as well as a video showing the brothers purchasing a red hat, ski masks and gloves from a beauty supply shop hours earlier.
Smollett’s attorneys have not spelled out how they will confront that evidence. Lead attorney Nenye Uche declined to comment ahead of this week’s proceedings. But there are clues as to how they might during the trial.
Buried in nearly 500 pages of Chicago Police Department reports is a statement from an area resident who says she saw a white man with “reddish brown hair” who appeared to be waiting for someone that night. She told a detective that when the man turned away from her, she “could see hanging out from underneath his jacket what appeared to be a rope.”
Her comments could back up Smollett’s contention that his attackers draped a makeshift noose around his neck. Further, if she testified that the man was white, it would support Smollett’s statements — widely ridiculed because the brothers, who come from Nigeria, are Black — that he saw pale or white skin around the eyes of one of his masked attackers.
Given there is so much evidence, including the brothers’ own statements, that they participated in the attack, it is unlikely that Smollett’s attorneys will try to prove they did not take part. That could lead the defense to contend that Smollett was the victim of a very real attack at the hands of the brothers, perhaps with the help of others, who now are only implicating the actor so they won’t be charged.
The $3,500 check could be key, although Smollett says he wrote it to pay one of the brothers to work as his personal trainer.
“I would assume the defense is going to zero in on that,” said Joe Lopez, a prominent defense attorney not involved with the case.
What they will almost certainly do is attack the brothers’ credibility, reminding jurors that they are not facing the same charges as Smollett, despite admitting they took part in the staged attack.
“Everything Smollett is responsible for, they are responsible for,” said David Erickson, a former state appellate judge who teaches at Chicago Kent College of Law and is not involved in the case.
Finally, Smollett’s career could take center stage. Prosecutors could make the same point that then-Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson made when he announced Smollett’s arrest in 2019: that Smollett thought the attack would win him more fame and a pay raise.
But Lopez said the defense attorneys might ask the jury the same question he asked himself.
“How would that help him with anything?” he asked. “He’s already a star.”
Associated Press reporter Sara Burnett contributed to this report.
Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.
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