The Raiders continue to stay in the playoff hunt in the AFC West as no team seems to want to win it.
Andy Reid and his Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Buffalo Bills during the morning games, keeping Jack Del Rio and the Oakland Raiders a fighting chance. Little did we know that the Raiders would take a “fighting chance” quite literal.
It didn’t take long for the sparks between Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib to reignite. On just the Raiders second possession of the game, Crabtree blocked Talib to the ground out of bounds, causing Talib to retaliate and teammates from both sides to join in on the fight. Both players were ejected from the game, joined by Raiders left guard Gabe Jackson, who made contact with an official.
The Denver Broncos started sophomore Paxton Lynch for the first time this season, and it looked like he would get the Broncos on the board first after a fumble by Derek Carr. Lynch from Sacramento-native Devontae Booker on wheel route but was tackled on the one-yard line.
Just two plays later, the Raiders defense would get their first interception of the season when linebacker NaVorro Bowman came up with the ball while laying on his back into the end zone after it was tipped by safety Reggie Nelson.
Carr took advantage of the defense’s first interception of the season, going 80 yards in just eight plays for the first points of the game. Wide receiver Amari Cooper beat the cornerback off the line to get open and haul in the touchdown, putting the Raiders up 7-0.
That would be all the action Cooper would get after the Raiders would lose him for the remainder of the game on the next drive. Carr led his receiver a little too far and Cooper was hit hard by safety Darian Stewart, who was called for a penalty. Cooper was knocked out cold and would not get up for minutes, until he waved off the cart that came out and walked off with the help of the trainers. He would later be ruled out with a concussion.
With both Crabtree and Cooper out for the rest of the game, offensive coordinator Todd Downing would have just Cordarrelle Patterson, Seth Roberts and Johnny Holton left at wide receiver. Knowing this, Downing went to veteran running back Marshawn Lynch who rushed it in from the one-yard line to put the Raiders up 14-0 at the half.
The Raiders defense put together one of their best games after Del Rio fired Ken Norton, Jr. and promoted John Pagano as the team’s new defensive play-caller. The Raiders entered the game with just 15 sacks, but added another five on the day. Both Bruce Irvin and Denico Autry had two each while Khalil Mack added one of his own.
Oakland’s third score of the day would be set up by Carr’s first deep ball of the day when he found Holton for a 47-yard pass down the left side. Jalen Richard would line up in the slot and haul in a touchdown reception on the next play to make it 21-0.
Pagano’s defense was looking for the shutout when it knocked Lynch out of the game with an ankle injury, forcing the Raiders to turn to Trevor Siemian. Lynch finished just 8-for-13 for 40 yards, while Siemian came in and looked like an improvement.
The third-year quarterback started the fourth quarter with a 10-play drive that went 93 yards and ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Cody Latimer to end the Raiders shutout.
Looking to run the clock out and put the game out of reach, Carr found Lynch for a big 25-yard screen pass that put the Raiders in scoring position. A couple of penalties would stall the drive, and Giorgio Tavecchio would miss the 35-yard field goal try to still put the game within reach for the Broncos.
Pagano’s defense had a chance to ice the game themselves when safety Karl Joseph leaped up for a pass by Siemian but had the interception go right through his hands and into Latimer’s hands for a first down. Just two plays later, wide receiver Bennie Fowler beat the defense down the middle of the field for the 22-yard touchdown to make it 21-14 with just 2:39 remaining in the game.
Needing a first down to finish the game off, Downing ran the ball two-straight times to force a 3rd and 8 with 2:24 left. The Broncos brought the blitz and Carr threw the ball off his back foot to Patterson, who hauled in the catch and broke tackles to scamper 55 yards down the field and bring the two-minute warning.
Carr would take a knee three times from there, giving the Raiders a 5-6 record and just one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs.