Once again the Broncos settled for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. Once again they lost a game in which they needed to win because of it. The 2009 season has been a total Jeckle and Hyde year for the Broncos and this game showed what you see is not always what you get out of this team.
The Broncos started the game moving the ball well with a short passing game from quarterback Kyle Orton and strong running from rookie running back Knowshon Moreno. On their first drive the Broncos drove inside the 5-yard line but sputtered horribly and that led to a 23 yard Matt Prater field goal. The Raiders, who chose to start career back-up Charlie Frye at quarterback over their former #1 overall draft choice Jamarcus Russell, would then turn the ball over to the Broncos when Frye tossed a lame duck pass that fell right into the hands of Champ Bailey.
Orton would lead the Broncos to the Raiders 10-yard line when head coach Josh McDaniels, instead of looking for star receiver Brandon Marshall or 6’6 tight end Tony Scheffler, decided to call a trick play and throw to left tackle Ryan Clady in the flat which went for a loss of two-yards. The Broncos were also flagged on the play for illegal touching of the ball as Marshall lined up wrong making Clady an illegible receiver. The drive would stall as Orton was sacked on 3rd down and Prater would give the Broncos a 6-0 lead with a 43-yard field goal.
After trading possessions another Broncos drive would sputter at mid-field and the Raiders would receive their best field possession yet as Broncos punter Mitch Berger would shank a 7-yard punt. The Raiders would drive to the Broncos 23-yard line where running back Michael Bush took a handoff to the left side and went untouched to the end zone to give the Raiders a 7-6 lead. The Broncos offense would continue to sputter the rest of the first half and Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski would boot two more field goals to give the Raiders a 13-6 lead at the half.
The Broncos would start the second half moving the ball well and cut the deficit to 4 points on a 51-yard field goal from Prater. The Broncos then took advantage of the second Raiders turnover as running back Darren Mcfadden would lose a fumble which was recovered by Broncos defensive back Tony Carter. The Broncos would then drive 50 yards in 8 plays, capping it with a six-yard TD pass From Orton to Marshall which gave Denver a 16-13 lead. The Raiders responded with a drive that went all the way down to the Broncos 1-yard line helped by long runs by Bush and Mcfadden.
The Raiders bush was stopped for a 3-yard loss on 3rd and goal from the 1 yard line as time expired in the 3rd quarter. Raiders head coach Tom Cable decided to go for the TD on 4th and goal from the Broncos 3 yard line instead of kicking a chip shot field go to tie the game. The Raiders tried a misdirection toss to Mcfadden but was met by linebacker Mario Haggan and safety Brian Dawkins at the 1 yard line. With the Broncos taking over on their own 1-yard line they were unable to get a first down and were forced to punt.
On the ensuing Raiders possession QB Frye was leveled on a pass attempt and need to leave the game. Frye would not be able to return and ended the day 9/17 for 68 yards and 1 int. Coming in for Frye would be former starting QB Russell who coming into this game had a passer rating of 47.7 and is 7-18 as a starter. The Raiders would stall with Russell at the helm as his 3rd down pass attempt would fall short of the open Louis Murphy and the Raiders were forced to punt.
On the ensuing Broncos possession, Denver thought they would break the game open as Orton connected with receiver Brandon Stokley on a 63-yard catch and run over the middle which would also end up with a horse collar tackle penalty called on Raider DB Stanford Route taking the Broncos deep inside Raider territory to the 3-yard line. Yet again the Broncos would not be able to punch it in for a touchdown to make it a two possession game and were forced to settle for a 21-yard field goal increasing their lead to 19-13 with 3:29 left to play.
The Raiders would have one last shot with no timeouts remaining from their own 38-yard line. On the first play Russell would be stripped of the ball by defensive end Vonnie Holliday although the Raiders would recover the play resulted in a loss of 9 yards. On the next play Russell fired a pass downfield to Murphy that fell incomplete but a pass interference penalty was called on cornerback Andre Goodman, this would advance the Raiders to Denver’s 43-yard line. After two incomplete passes, Russell would take a hard hit and need to leave the game for a crucial third-and -10.
Recently signed QB J.P. Losman would enter the game and throw an incomplete pass intended for WR Chaz Schillens. Russell return to action for the crucial fourth- and -10 and connected with TE Tony Stewart for 11-yards to the Denver 32. Russell would complete two more passes to reach the Denver 5-yard line. After a false start penalty which moved the Raiders back the 10, Russell found Schillens on a slant pattern and broke free from the attempted tackle of rookie DB Alphonso Smith to score the game-tying touchdown.
After Janikowski booted the extra-point the Raiders would lead 20-19 with 35 seconds remaining. Orton would be sacked on the first play for Denver forcing them to use their last time-out. Orton would find Scheffler over the middle for 39-yards but time expired as Oakland, for the second straight year; defeat the Broncos in Denver late in December to severely hamper the Broncos playoff hopes.
Russell completed 5 of 11 passes for 47-yards and the TD pass to Schiilens to complete just his third ever 4th quarter comeback. The Raiders look to win their 6th game of the year next Sunday as they travel to Cleveland to play the Browns (3-11).
The Broncos try to hold on to the 6th seed for the playoffs with a slew of teams nipping at their heels as they will travel to Philadelphia to play the NFC East leading Eagles (10-4).
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