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Raiders point to key play where momentum shifted to blowout loss

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Thearon W. Henderson

It was midway through the second quarter Sunday between the Raiders and Broncos in Oakland. In a bit of a surprising situation, the Raiders had the lead over the Broncos 10-6 and it appeared have Peyton Manning rattled and under constant pressure. Then with exactly three minutes left in the first half, everything changed.

Rewind three minutes when the Raiders started their drive at their own 20-yard line. They had driven 20 yards downfield and converted a third and one along the way. Then on third and two, Carr attempted a pass to Mychal Rivera and it sailed to be picked off.

But that isn't the play where the Raiders believe it turned. At that point the Raiders defense had every reason to believe they would stop the Broncos and get the offense the ball back. And they nearly did. A short run of 2 yards on first down was followed by Khalil Mack getting pressure on Peyton Manning to force and incompletion. It set up 3rd and 8 for the Broncos.

That's when it happened.

Peyton Manning got to the line and he went to the well he had gone to several times already. He threw out left into the flat for running back CJ Anderson who broke a few tackles, went up the left sideline, cut back towards the middle, got a couple blocks downfield, and navigated his way 51 yards for the touchdown.

Just like that, the Raiders lost the lead and the momentum, and set off a domino effect of 35 unanswered points for the Broncos to lose 41-17.

Charles Woodson recounts the moment it started to unravel.

"We're up 10-6 and there was a third down situation where we could get the guy down," said Woodson. "Either get him down or get him out of bounds and all the sudden they're leading. And we get the ball back and there's another touchdown and it's 20-10. And it's like 'how the hell did that happen?'"

Justin Tuck, who had an interception early in the game that led to the Raiders' first touchdown, also saw that as the pivotal moment it all went wrong.

"We had a couple missed tackles there and it took the wind out of our sails a litle bit," said Tuck. "We also gotta figure out ways to finish games. One week we start slow and finish great and next week we start fast and finish crappy. . . Regardless of you are and who you play, the games are always about momentum. You can see it. You can see it when it happened and we gotta figure out ways to come back to that sideline, regroup and come back and keep the intensity that we had in that first quarter."

Suddenly the Raiders were not the same on either side of the ball. What began as a smothering pass rush, two turnover, and two scores, turned into a porous defense and a toothless offense unable to get a first down.

After the Broncos took the lead on that 51-yard play, the Raiders answered with a three and out. The Broncos came out and converted two-straight first downs and then a 32-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. That's the second play that Woodson spoke of that put the Broncos up 20-10 heading into halftime.

"Those are on us," Woodson continued. "That was our fault. They got a good team, one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game, but that was two plays. I look at those two plays. I know as a team we'll look at those two plays before half and say 'wow, how did that happen'."

The Broncos would come out for the second half and score three touchdowns in the third quarter alone and the game was over before the fourth quarter began.

The drives in the third quarter looked like this:

Raiders -- Turnover on a fumble
Broncos -- Touchdown
Raiders -- Three and out punt
Broncos -- Touchdown
Raiders -- Turnover on interception
Broncos -- Touchdown
Raiders -- Three and out punt

It was 41-10 at that point and Peyton Manning didn't play a snap in the fourth quarter.

This team is demoralized and they realize at this point that when they begin as they did in the first 25 minutes of this game, they can't afford to give up the lead like that and then play catch-up. Especially against a Peyton Manning led team.

Someday they might have the faith to regroup and get back on track. But without a single win on the season, they have no reason to believe they are capable of doing it this season.