The Oakland Raiders got their first win of the 2012 season last week versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it was a thriller. A 34×31 come-from-behind victory that made the Raider Nation even more excited about today’s game. The Raiders traveled to Denver to face the division rivals Broncos in what’s always a very important game to both sides.
Raiders’ players that did not suit up for the game: QB Terrelle Pryor (“C.D.” – Coaches’ Decision), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion/neck strain), TE Richard Gordon (hamstring), OT Khalif Barnes (groin), G Lucas Nix (C.D.), DE Andre Carter (C.D.) and CB Shawntae Spencer (ankle). Notable inactives for the Broncos: RB Knowshon Moreno (C.D.), G Chris Kuper (forearm) and LB Joe Mays (suspension).
Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense took the field first. A reception by WR Brandon Stokley on 3rd down got Denver to midfield. Pat Lee almost intercepted Manning after a Desmond Bryant hurry. On a 3rd&7 at the Raiders 36 yard line, Manning connected with Jacob Tamme but Rolando McClain tackled him one yard shy of the first down. The Broncos went for it on 4th down, and quickly found Tamme once again over Tyvon Branch. Manning then found TE Joel Dreessen over the middle for a 22-yard TD. Raiders 0 x 7 Broncos. The Raiders offense didn’t waste any time moving the chains also. Darren McFadden got the team’s first first down with a 10 yard run. Carson Palmer found Marcel Reece wide open and the FB ran all the way to the Broncos 39 yard line. But on a 3rd&5 at the 21, Willie Smith couldn’t block OLB Elvin Dummervil and his rush on Palmer forced the throw to go incomplete. Sebastian Janikowski made the 38 yard field goal to put Oakland on the board. Raiders 3 x 7 Broncos.
The raider defense continued to let the Broncos march down the field on their second series. A 1st&20 situation due to 2 penalties (false start, illegal formation) got erased after WR Demaryius Thomas made a 24 yard reception to the Raiders 38 yard line. An end around run got them to the redzone, and a RB Willis McGahee rush up the middle, to a 1st&goal. But then Richard Seymour made his presence felt: first, slightly tipping the ball which made it hard for WR Eric Decker to catch it in the endzone; then, he batted down a pass at the line to force a FG, converted by kicker Matt Prater. At the end of the first quarter, it’s Raiders 3 x 10 Broncos. The Raiders second drive also started well, but ended up with a stall. Palmer found Myers in a screen play to the Raiders 44 yard line. Another Reece reception got the Raiders to the Denver 41 yard line, followed by a Cooper Carlisle holding penalty. Palmer almost found Moore in the endzone but it was a slight overthrow. On 3rd down, Palmer felt the heat early and didn’t have time to make a pass. Shane Lechler put the Broncos at their 7 yard line.
On a 3rd&5 at their 28 yard line, it looked like Thomas was going to go all the way to the endzone on a screen pass, but as Tyvon Branch closed on him deep on the field, Thomas fumbled the ball trying to switch hands. Lamarr Houston was there to recover the ball and put the raider offense at their own 4 yard line. After a McFadden rush for minus 3 yards, Palmer bought time inside the endzone and found Moore for a little breathing room. On the ensuing 3rd down, Mike Goodson, catching a short pass to the left, looked to be dead in the water, but the RB reversed his way and, counting with a Palmer block, almost made an incredible play but he ended up being inches shy of the first down. Lechler once again punted the ball and put the Broncos at their 33 yard line. They ended up with a 3rd&5 at the Raiders 40 yard line and rookie Jack Crawford stopped the run attempt 1 yard shy of the first down. Prater’s FG attempt was actually a trick play and the kicker’s pass attempt went for a deep incompletion.
The raider offense hit the field with a little over 3 minutes left in the half. On a 3rd&1 at their own 45 yard line, Palmer, under heavy pressure, threw to McFadden, and Run DMC made a great one-handed catch and also was able to put 2 feet inbounds for a first down. After the 2 minute warning, Palmer found Moore deep over the tight coverage by CB Tracy Porter, and the WR went down at Denver’s 13 yard line. 2 short McFadden runs later, it was 3rd&3 with 29 seconds left and it went for an incompletion trying to connect with David Ausberry. Janikowski made the short FG. At halftime, it’s Raiders 6 x 10 Broncos.
The Raiders opened the second half on offense but they went for a 3 and out after Dennis Allen decided not to challenge a Denarius Moore catch, ruled shy of the first down line, but it looked like the receiver was able to cross the imaginary line before going out of bounds. After the punt, Denver started their drive at their 21 yard line and they continued to move with relative ease over the raider defense. A short catch turned out to be a big gain due to bad angling by the defense, getting the Broncos to the raider 25 yard line. And another short catch went for a big gain when Decker got another Broncos touchdown. Raiders 6 x 17 Broncos.
The Raiders went 3&out again after Palmer should’ve been intercepted but the defender dropped the ball. The ensuing punt was blocked and that got the Broncos to start on the Raiders 17 yard line. A McGahee run got them inside the five. Another one got them inside the endzone. Raiders 6 x 24 Broncos with 7:30 left in the 3rd quarter. The Raiders went for a 3rd consecutive 3&out after 3 short runs by McFadden. The Broncon started the drive at their 37 yard line. The raider defense once again had no answer to the short catches which led to big gains, also being a liabilty against the run. The drive ended with another touchdown, a reception over the middle on a 3rd&10 situation. Raiders 6 x 31 Broncos.
To follow that, another 3&out by the Raiders, the fourth straight, after Palmer saw himself in a 3rd&16 situation due to a delay of game penalty and couldn’t connect with Rod Streater, as the ball hit the ground before the receiver came up with the possession. And it was same old, same old for the defense, as the Broncos once again were able to move chains with no struggles. On a 3rd&10 at the 26 Raiders yard line, the defense forced an incompletion, which led to a FG. Raiders 6 x 34 Broncos. The Raiders got their first first down of the second half with 12:44 to go in the fourth quarter, as Palmer found Moore for a medium gain. But 3 plays later and 7 negative yards later, Lechler had to punt again.
The Broncos ensuing drive consisted on gaining yard through the ground, which got them to midfield and a 3rd&6 situation, converted through the air with a Thomas reception over Matt Giordano. On a 3rd&10, a stuffed run by Philip Wheeler brought Prater to the field and the 53 yard attempt split the uprights. Raiders 6 x 37 Broncos with 3:43 left in the game. On a 3rd&10, Palmer hit Ausberry for 9 yards and on the ensuing 4th down, the QB found rookie Juron Criner for a first down, the first reception of his career. He then got a second one for another first down. A sack led to a 4th&18 situation with 27 seconds left, which was caught by Derek Hagan for a short gain. Final score: Raiders 6 x 37 Denver.
Carson Palmer finished the game with 19 completions (56 completion percentage) for 202 yards. Darren McFadden ran for 34 yards (2.6 YPC). Denarius Moore led the receivers with 4 receptions for 71 yards, and Marcel Reece led in receptions with 5 for 54 yards. Philip Wheeler and Tyvon Branch led the defense with 9 total tackles each.
The Raiders will now have a bye week and will return to action on October 14th to face the Falcons in Atlanta.