Up next for the Oakland Raiders was a home game under the lights against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were coming off a 27-19 win over the San Diego Chargers and the Raiders were coming off a 30-24 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked the game off and return man Kepri Bibbs returned the kick to the 14. Quarterback Trevor Siemian attempted three passes in a row and all of them fell incomplete. Punter Riley Dixon punted and return man Jalen Richard returned it ten yards to Oakland 48-yard line.
Quarterback Derek Carr and the Raider offense took the field and got things off to a good start with a five-yard run by running back Latavius Murray. That was followed by an 11-yard pass to Richard. On second and nine, Carr found wide receiver Amari Cooper on the right side for a gain of 21 and the Raiders were marching toward the end zone. From the 14, Carr looked for tight end Clive Walford in the end zone. But the pass was knocked away by linebacker Brandon Marshall. Murray ran up the middle for eight yards on second down. On third and two, Carr tossed a short pass to Seth Roberts. He caught it, but slipped and fell short of the first down marker. Carr wanted to go for it, but head coach Jack Del Rio decided it was better to try a field goal. From 24 yards out, Janikowski split the uprights and the Raiders led 3-0 with 10:21 to go in the first quarter.
The Broncos ran three plays and lost three yards in the process. Dixon punted again and the Raiders took over at their 42. A couple of carries by Murray and a pass to Roberts put the Raiders at the Denver 36. Two plays later, Carr found Andre Holmes on the left side and he made a nice one-handed catch for a gain of 16 yards. But they would have to settle for a field goal attempt once again as Von Miller sacked Carr on third and four from the six-yard line. The 29-yard attempt was good and the Raiders led 6-0 with 4:52 to go in the first quarter. I was glad they were winning. But it would have been better if they would have scored touchdowns on those drives. 14-0 is much better than 6-0.
On their next possession, the Broncos gained seven yards. That is a significant improvement, but you need ten yards to obtain a first down. Dixon punted again and the Raiders took over at their 43-yard line. Completions to Holmes and Cooper put them in Denver territory. Carries by running back DeAndre Washington and Murray put them in the red zone. A ten-yard pass to Roberts and two carries by Murray moved the ball to the one-yard line. From the one, Murray capped off the drive as he ran up the left side and stretched the ball over the goal line. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 13-0 with 1:19 to go in the first quarter.
Both teams punted on their next possessions. With 11:45 remaining in the first half, the Broncos got the ball back at their 16-yard line. Siemian got the drive off to a good start with an eight-yard pass to running back Devontae Booker. Two plays later, Demaryius Thomas caught a pass over the middle for a gain of 23 yards and the Broncos finally had a first down. Sound the trumpets! Carries by Booker and Bibbs kept the Broncos moving toward the end zone. On first down from the 36, Siemian went deep for the end zone and Jordan Norwood hauled in the pass for a touchdown. McManus made the point after and the Raiders led 13-7 with 8:16 to go in the first half.
The Raiders would move the ball well on their next possession but Janikowski missed a 48-yard field goal attempt. That gave the Broncos decent field position with a chance to take the lead. But the Raider defense forced another three and out. From the 25, the Raiders continued to move the ball on the ground. A seven-yard gain by Richard and a 42-yard run up the right side by Murray put the Raiders at the Denver 24. On third and ten, Carr went deep for Cooper. The pass was incomplete, but the Broncos were flagged for pass interference. On first and goal from the one, Carr tossed a short pass to Murray and he took it in for a touchdown. But that score would be nullified as left tackle Donald Penn was flagged for being an illegal man down-field. They were at the one! How the hell can that be? Whatever. That bizarre penalty moved them back five yards and Carr looked for Roberts in the end zone. That pass was incomplete. But there was some more laundry on the field. Once again, the Broncos were flagged for pass interference. That moved the ball to the one-yard line again. From there, Murray took it into the end zone. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 20-7 with 1:20 remaining in the first half.
The Broncos quickly went to work and passes to Bibbs and Thomas got them into Oakland territory. On third and three from the 49, Siemian looked for Jordan Taylor. It was incomplete but cornerback T.J. Carrie was flagged for defensive holding. That put the ball at the 44. From there, Siemian found Thomas again for a gain of seven yards. That meant McManus would have a chance to make a long field goal before halftime. His 55-yard attempt was good and at halftime, the Raiders led 20-10. I kept thinking back to the two drives early in the game where the Raiders couldn’t get the ball into the end zone. The missed field goal also crossed my mind. In theory, the score could have been 31-10.
Neither team did much with the ball in the third quarter until the Broncos got the ball back at their one-yard line with 4:34 to go in the third quarter. Two plays gained two yards and on third and eight from the three, Siemian launched a bomb up the left sideline for Thomas. He was unable to catch the pass, but another flag was thrown. This time it was pass interference on cornerback D.J. Hayden. He’s usually good for at least one of those penalties a game. But this was huge. The Broncos would have been punting from their end zone. Instead, they had a first down at their 30. But Khalil Mack knocked them back nine yards as he sacked Siemian on first down. The Broncos bounced back with passes to tight end Virgil Green and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The pass to Green moved the ball to the Oakland 30-yard line. But their running game still couldn’t get going and an intentional grounding penalty didn’t help either. The drive stalled at the 26 and McManus came on for a 44-yard attempt. It was good and the Raiders led 20-13 with 14:56 to go in the game.
I was starting to feel very uneasy as the fourth quarter began. The lead was only seven and I knew the Broncos were very capable of tying this game up if the Raiders couldn’t put some more points on the board. From the 25, Carr found wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a gain of 13 yards. Carries by Murray and Washington gained 12 yards and they were at midfield. From the 50, Carr fired a bullet to Walford for a gain of 15 yards. He threw that pass so hard that the ball literally stuck to Walford. From the 35, Washington ran for four yards and Cooper caught another pass for seven yards. But a holding penalty on Penn moved them back ten yards. On third and 17 from the 31, Carr hooked up with Crabtree over the middle for a gain of 14. That meant it was up to Janikowski to give his team a ten-point lead. His 35-yard attempt was good and the Raiders were up 23-13 with 8:19 remaining.
The Broncos took over at their 25 and on second and eight from the 27, Siemian found Norwood across the middle for a gain of 20 yards. Two plays later, our old friend Mack got to Siemian again for another sack. The ball was jarred loose and Mack recovered it at the 39-yard line. That gave the Raiders the ball at the Denver 39 and they had a great chance to increase their lead. From the 39, Carr threw to the right side for no one in particular and the pass was picked off by safety T.J. Ward. Or was it? Replay showed the ball hit the ground and the Raiders got another chance. On third and seven from the 36, Carr went deep for wide receiver Johnny Holton. The pass was incomplete. But guess what happened? Another flag was thrown and the Broncos were flagged for pass interference again. That penalty put the ball at the five-yard line. From the five, Carr looked for Crabtree and the Broncos were flagged again. This time it was defensive holding. I bet the Bronco fans were going out of their minds with all those penalties being called on their team. Welcome to my world. Another pass interference penalty was called on the next play. Finally, Murray dove over the top for a touchdown. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 30-13 with 6:09 remaining.
The Broncos started their next drive at the 25 and I knew the Raiders were going to start playing soft. Enter the dreaded prevent defense. Sanders caught a pass for 11 yards on first down. A false start penalty moved them back five yards. On first and 15 from the 31, Siemian tossed a short pass to Bibbs. What I saw after he caught that pass was some of the worst tackling ever. As Bibbs weaved his way up-field, defender after defender dove and missed him. He cut across the middle and headed up the right sideline. Still on his feet, he turned on the speed and dove into the end zone. To me, that looked more like a drill you would see in training camp. It looked like the Raider defense had been replaced by 11 tackling dummies. That’s a fitting description because they were tackling like dummies on that play. Overall, the defense played very well in this game But that was painful to watch. McManus made the point after and the Raiders led 30-20 with 5:13 remaining.
It was time for the Raiders to use the ground game and eat up the remaining minutes. They started at the 19 and Murray got things off to a nice start with a 13-yard run. The next two plays gained two yards and the Broncos called a timeout. On third and eight from the 34, Carr found Cooper all alone on the left sideline for a gain of nine yards and a first down at the 43. A holding call moved them back ten yards. That was followed by a couple of carries by Richard that went nowhere. King punted and the Broncos got the ball back at their 28-yard line with 2:15 to go and no timeouts. On fourth and ten from the 28, Siemian looked for Norwood across the middle and the pass was intercepted by safety Reggie Nelson. That sealed the deal and the Raiders came away with a 30-20 win. That win improved them to 7-2 and they were back in first place in the AFC West. The loss dropped the Broncos to 6-3.
For the Broncos Trevor Siemian completed 18 of 37 for 283 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders tied for the lead in receptions with five apiece. Kapri Bibbs led the team in receiving yards with 69. To put it simply, the Broncos had nowhere to run. Devontae Booker led the team in rushing with 22 yards on ten carries. As a team, the Broncos rushed for just 33 yards on 12 carries. Defensively, defensive backs T.J. Ward, Bradley Roby and Darian Stewart tied for the lead in solo tackles with eight apiece.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 20 of 31 for 184 yards. Amari Cooper led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 56. The ground game was running on all cylinders. Latavius Murray led the way with 114 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns. As a team, the Raiders rushed for 218 yards on 43 carries. The Raiders also won the time of possession battle as they held on to the ball for 41:28. Also, they had “only” eight penalties for 72 yards. The Broncos were flagged 12 times for 104 yards. Defensively, linebacker Malcolm Smith led the team in solo tackles with eight. Khalil Mack also had a solid game with two sacks, two tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Up next for the Raiders is a much needed bye week. That will give them time to heal up and get healthy. After that, it’s a trip down to Mexico to take on the Houston Texans. Defensive end Mario Edwards should be back and hopefully linebacker Aldon Smith will be reinstated. They would really be welcome additions to the defense. Until then, take it easy.
The Raider Guy