Khalif Barnes, Stefen Wisniewski, Austin Howard
From the very beginning this Raiders offense was dead in the water because of the pathetic blocking by their interior offensive line. It didn't matter if it was run blocking or pass blocking, they weren't getting it done. The moment when this game was lost can be directly attributed to when the offensive line began falling apart.
With 6:05 remaining in the second quarter, the Raiders offense took the field with a 10-6 lead, looking to add to it before halftime. On the first play, Khalif Barnes missed his block to give up a run stuff for a short gain. The Raiders were able to recover momentarily by picking up the first down a couple plays later. Then on the next third down, Derek Carr dropped back to pass, and Stefen Wisniewski gave up pressure and Carr's arm was hit as he threw and it was intercepted. The Broncos would take over and score a touchdown in two plays to take the lead for good.
On the Raiders first possession of the second half, it was Wisniewski and Barnes again. Wiz couldn't get any push on his man to give up a run stuff and on the next play Barnes lost his mind. First he gave up a pressure on Carr, then he turned around to watch as his quarterback was crushed. Carr saw Barnes, thinking he was an outlet and shoveled him the ball. Barnes -- an ineligible receiver -- inexplicably caught the ball and tried to run with it. He was smacked by the defender and fumbled it away at the Raiders' 18-yard line. The Raiders were flagged for illegal touching but the Broncos declined it in favor of getting the ball in scoring position. They would score a touchdown three plays later to take a 27-10 lead.
Then after the Broncos added another touchdown, Wiz and Barnes were at it again. Wiz gave up a hit on Carr on the first play, Barnes gave up a pressure in the backfield on a short run, and then Barnes gave up a sack. The sack was wiped away by an illegal hands to the face penalty on the Broncos but it was still a big hit in the middle of Carr's back which is never good. The fresh set of downs gave Wiz the chance to give up another hit on Carr as he threw. He would throw and interception on the next play. A couple series later, Austin Howard would end it when he gave up a pressure on third down to force an incompletion. Howard would also give up a run stuff on the final drive. As a result of the Raiders offensive line getting no push up the middle, the Raiders had just 30 yards rushing on 15 carries. Of the nine runs between the tackles, 7 were stopped for 3 yards or fewer, with four stopped for just a one yard gain.
Tony Sparano, Greg Olson, Derek Carr
While the issues with this offense seem to stem from the offensive line, they don't end there. That unit was rebuilt this off-season under the specifications set forth by Sparano and his guidance. I am fairly sure I have not seen a unit perform this poorly without a rash of injuries. While there are injuries on this line, Sparano and his staff gave up on them even when they were fully healthy. The problem is they just aren't very good.
The Raiders didn't run the ball on third down at all in this game. The same for last week against the Seahawks. They haven't went with the run on third down since the second quarter againt the Browns three weeks ago. Of course it makes sense why Sparano and Olson would not trust the line or the backs to pick up even a short first down, but that makes the offense incredibly predictable. They converted just 5 of 18 third downs in this one. But as bad as that stat is, it looks even worse when you analyze it.
Two of those third down conversion happened on the final drive which was just allowed to happen so the game could end. That brings the number down to three of 18 third down attempts -- a 7-yard catch on third and 6 (Butler), a 3-yard TD catch (Butler), and a 3-yard catch (Rivera) on third and one.
All three of the Raiders' turnovers in this game -- two interceptions and a fumble -- came on third down. Part of that is due to the predictability that the Raiders absolutely will not run the ball on third down. Part of it is due to the fact that only four times did they set up in third and less than five.
The Raiders had seven drives in the first half and four of them were stopped due to passes too short to pick up the first down. It's a problem that has plagued the Raiders the past couple seasons. Sometimes it's the playcall, sometimes it's the checkdown. Despite Olson's very suspect play calling, Sparano says he has complete confidence in him as the offensive coordinator and will not take over play calling any time soon.
The second half had 8 series for the Raiders. The first four of those ended with Derek Carr mistakes -- a shovel to an ineligible receiver who fumbled it, a wide pass incomplete, interception, and a low wobbler on the sideline. That last pass was his final play of the third quarter when the Broncos took out Manning and the two teams played out the clock. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
Woodson came into this game for the meeting of the man who was taken three spots ahead of him in the 1998 draft and is bound to take the stage with him in the Hall of Fame some day. The result was probably the worst game Woodson has had since he joined the Raiders, and possibly the worst of his career.
On the first two Broncos drives, Woodson gave up some yardaged but made up for it by being in on the stop both times to hold them to field goals. He would give up two first down catches on the next drive as well, but the Raiders held them to a punt. That was all just set up for the big fall.
That fall began with 3:00 minutes left in the first half when Manning threw a pass into the left flat to running back CJ Anderson who took it 51 yards for the score. Woodson had a shot at Anderson and missed the tackle. He wasn't alone, but he was among them. It got worse for Woodson.
In the third quarter with the Broncos alread up 27-10, they set up in 4th and 1 and Woodson misplayed it, letting tight end Julius Thomas get behind him who caught it and went for a 32-yard touchdown. Woodson would be victimized again on the following drive to give up the 15-yard catch for the touchdown and the 41-10 blowout. Woodson was playing out of his mind the first eight games. I guess he was due for a game like this.
After a two-game respite from the Busters, Burris makes his return. It can be exhausting to detail all the times he was dominated or out of position or missed a tackle because there are so many times. Just on the first drive alone, he was blocked for a 16-yard run, late to cover a runnng back out of the backfield to give up a 7-yard catch, and was plowed through for extra yardage to give up the first down on a run.
All that was bad, but none of it compared to the ridiculous excuse for a tackle attempt he made on CJ Anderson to give up the 51-yard score. Anderson was Burris' assignment and his play to make. There were others who missed tackles too but none of that would have happened had Burris made the stop like he was supposed to. Or even if he had slowed him down. Most of the team agreed that play was the beginning of the end. The Broncos would add another touchdown before the half thanks in part to Burris giving up runs of 17 and 12 yards.
Without going into all the mistakes he made the rest of the day, let's just say he didn't make another stop while the Broncos added three more touchdowns in the third quarter.
Early in this game, Brown was Peyton Manning's beating post. He just went at him over and over. He gave up a 12-yard catch, a 21-yard catch on third and 7 on their first drive for a field goal, an 11-yard catch and a 21-yard pass interference penalty to set up their second field goal, a 7-yard catch on third and 8 which set up their fourth touchdown, and a 6-yard first down catch on their final touchdown drive. In total, he gave up 80 yards of offense on four scoring drives with no passes defended or interceptions. He had 8 tackles in the game, but only three of those came in short yardage. The others were off of catches he gave up.
If he's on your fantasy team, you are thinking he had a great game. But this isn't fantasy. In real life, his 6 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown were merely a stat line. Three of his catches for 50 yards and a touchdown came on the team's final drive with the game already lost and the Broncos thinking about their postgame meal. While they were feasting on the Raiders over the first 55 minutes of the game, Rivera had three catches for 14 yards.
But it isn't Rivera's lack of production that lands him as a Buster. It's his horrendous blocking. The play just before that final drive ended because Rivera missed his block to give up a tackle on Darren McFadden short of the first down marker. On the drive just before that, he was easily pushed out of the way to give up a run stuff for one yard. Earlier in the game he was out to block but didn't actually block anyone to give up a run stuff on an outside run. Then early in the third quarter he was shucked to the ground to give up a tackle for loss on bubble screen. Yeah, we're gonna have to go ahead and ask you to block on Sunday, mmkay? That'd be great. Thanks a bunch, Mychal.
Ray Ray Armstrong
Most of his work is done on special teams. And that's where he was giving Bobby April fits. He started the second half by being called for unnecessary roughness after laying a late hit. It had the Raiders start at their own 10-yard line. They had a turnover and due to their poor field position, the Broncos got the ball inside the 20-yard line. Late in the fourth quarter on two consecutive special teams plays, he was called for illegal block in the back and then missed a tackle to give up a 21-yard return into Raiders territory.
With TJ Carrie out with an injury, Denarius took over punt return duties. And he was terrible. He had a fair catch at the 10-yard line, let a ball bounce that landed at the 22-yard line and was lucky it kept bouncing and made the endzone, then he had the Raiders final drive starting at the 2-yard line because of a block attempt that would make Mychal Rivera look like Gene Upshaw. He had one return in this game for four yards. He's also become a complete non-factor in the passing game. Outside of a 28-yard gift catch on the final drive, he had a end around run for one yard and one target for an incompletion.