The Oakland Raiders hung on to a victory over the 7 loss in row divisional rivals Denver Broncos, 21-14, in front of a hometown crowd of 53 thousand plus screaming fans at O.co stadium.
The game started off wet, with the rain coming down, not heavy, but steadily. Much of the usual pre-game warm-ups went by the side, as the field remained tarped off to keep it as dry as possible for the game for some time.
The game went wild about 2.5 minutes into the game. Each team had 3 and outs, neither team being able to generate any offense. At the start of their 2nd possession, Marshawn Lynch ran for 4 yards. During this play, Denver’s Chris Harris Jr. claimed that Oakland’s Michael Crabtree sucker punched him. I have to admit I saw Crabtree bring his arm back and give him a good shove, and it appeared his fist was closed, but it isn’t like Crabtree is an MMA fighter. It was a “rabbit punch” is anything, and without training couldn’t have packed much of a wallop. The next play, Lynch ran again, and this time Crabtree was lined up opposite Aqib Talib. In a previous game Talib ripped Crabtree’s chain off his neck. He did the same this play. This time, Crabtree would have none of it. At one time it roughly 8-10 Denver players against 2 Raiders players, but it didn’t take long for more Raiders players to get involved.
At the end of the skirmish, which went from the Denver sideline to the middle of the end zone, Crabtree lost his helmet, threw a punch at Talib, who had also threw a punch at Crabtree, and Gabe Jackson , without meaning to, ran into an official. Those players were all ejected, and all 3 drew flags. The Talib and Crabtree flags offset each other, but the Jackson one counted against us. We managed to convert on the ensuing 3 and 15 play, however, we stalled after that.
To be blunt, the entire 1st quarter was spent trading punts, and vying for field position, until the end of it. With 54 seconds left in the 1st, trying to run no huddle and playing from the shot gun, back up linebacker Shaquil Barrett got to Derek Carr and stripped the ball and fell on it. It was now Denver’s ball on Oakland’s 24 yard line.
Three plays later, there was a little more wildness. Paxton Lynch threw a pass to Devontae Booker against Nicholas Morrow, which was initially called a touch down. It wasn’t, as Booker’s knee was down at the yard line. After stopping a run play, Lynch rolled out on 3rd and goal. NaVorro Bowman tipped a pass intended for Virgil Green. Bowman fell. His tip was in turn tipped by Reggie Nelson. That tip ended up going right to Bowman on the ground. In the end zone. This was the 1st Raiders interception of the season. The irony is that it came from someone that wasn’t even on the team at the beginning of the season. No can say anything bad about 5 sacks, 2 by Bruce Irvin, 2 by Denico Autry, and 1 by Khalil Mack
With some assistance from a face mask call on Denver, even with a false start against them, the Raiders moved the ball 80 yards for the 1st score of the game with a Carr pass to Amari Cooper.
Our next drive cost us dearly. Keeping in mind that we already lost 2 starters due to ejections, we lost another stating receiver, but this time due to a targeted hit by Darian Stewart who lowered his shoulder and drove it into Cooper. “Targeted” is the word that Head Coach Jack Del Rio used in his post game presser. he did not have his arms extended. Cooper was a defenseless receiver. In my mind, this was done to try to hurt Cooper, who is now in concussion protocol, even though he walked off the field, rather than take a cart.
The Raiders second string receivers knew they had to man up. Carr had 82 yards passing at the end of the first half. The second half he threw for 171 yards, with 125 of those going to Johnny Holton and Cordarelle Patterson on only 5 plays. One of those passes to Holton went for 47 yards and crucial 1st down after that out us at the Denver 6 yard line, One play later we had a touchdown. The other absolutely crucial catch was a 54 yard catch and run by Cordarelle Patterson on a 3rd and 8 conversion. That was directly responsible for us being able to take victory formation to end the game.
The defense played very well for 3 quarters, but gave Denver hope as they scored 2 4th quarter touchdowns. Giorgio Tavecchio had a rare miscue on a field goal attempt that missed wide left. That field goal would have probably killed whatever hope Denver had. This would have been after they failed to recover an onside kick. Keith McGill II did the right thing by just falling on the ball.
Now while I wasn’t thrilled about Denver getting back into the game, they came back while it seemed we were in prevent mode, with Trevor Siemian behind center throwing from shot gun with judicial use of the no huddle. .That being said, John Pagano is known for soft defenses in the 4th quarter. He needs to stay aggressive. It was a pity that Karl Joseph missed his chance at an interception just as it started raining again. Not only did he miss the interception, the pass ended up being a reception on a drive that ended a score for them.
Enough was done to win this game against a top ranked defense without a starting guard and 2 starting receivers. Marquette King dropped punts inside of the 10 yard line a few times. We made 1st downs when it was crunch time. We stopped them enough. All 3 phases of the game contributed to this win.
After this wet and wild game, the raiders are in control of their destiny. They have some tough games coming, but it is in their hands.
Win, lose or tie, RAIDERS til I DIE!