This week the Raiders played the Broncos extremely tough and had a strong chance to win the game at the end, but mistakes cost them the W. The Denver defense has made a lot of teams look bad (Baltimore, Detroit) but the Raiders offense looked fairly competent against them. Let's see how each unit looked in the game.
The thing people are going to take from this game is that Derek Carr threw a pick-six to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. While that did happen, it's not fair to lay all the blame at his feet. First of all, Carr strongly outplayed Peyton Manning in this contest. Manning was erratic and made some questionable decisions. Outside of that one interception, Carr was mostly on point.
Secondly, during that pick apparently the Blue Angels were doing a flyover of the stadium. Normally the Raiders have to play against the other team and the referees. It's unfair to expect them to play against the United States Navy as well.
Thirdly, the team should in no way have been in that position at that point in the game. The two missed field goals were what put them there, and Janikowski missing two in the same game is exceedingly rare.
With that being said, Carr absolutely CANNOT throw that pass at that point. The team was on the move and ready to put Denver on their heels. That mistake was a killer and one Carr will have to learn from. So far his decision making has been good this year, but miscues against a defense as good as Denver's will cost him every time.
Running Backs: C
When I grade the running backs, I have to include Marcel Reece because Latavius Murray bowed out of the game with injury and didn't really show what he could do. He came close to breaking a few long runs in the first half but was just tripped up. Marcel Reece on the other hand was an absolute stud and scored Oakland's only touchdown of the game. It's comforting to see that Bill Musgrave seems intent on exploiting the mismatches inherent in having Marcel Reece on the field.
Wide Receivers: B-
Derek Carr spread the ball around a lot this game, and only completed nine passes to wide receivers. Five went to Michael Crabtree and four to Amari Cooper. Crabtree was targeted nine times and gained 54 yards on his four catches. Amari Cooper, who has had a case of the dropsies this year at times, caught all four of his targets for 47 yards. Cooper was double covered all day by the Denver secondary, which led to him disappearing late in the game. The coaching staff will have to figure out a way to exploit this fact.
Tight Ends: B
Clive Walford finally showed up, having a huge catch on the Raiders' only touchdown drive. He proved to be a tough man to bring down and it took at least three Broncos to tackle him. Walford is just getting started and I am certain he will prove to be a major asset down the line.
Mychal Rivera also had a fairly good game, catching three passes on three targets for 33 yards. The tight ends did their job today, but had a difficult time blocking in the run game.
Offensive Line: C
One ought to have expected the Raider line to finally give up some sacks at some point. What one does not expect is for Austin Howard, who heretofore had been playing fairly well, to attempt to cut-block Von freaking Miller on a pass play early in the second half. Miller can probably jump higher than Howard is tall, and made Howard's cut block look like a toddler falling into the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. Miller got a strip sack and the Broncos promptly got three points, which proved to be costly. The line allowed four sacks on the day, which I believe was very nearly their season total to that point. They struggled in run blocking after Latavius Murray left, but were doing a decent job before that. They held Denver's ferocious line in check for much of the day, but when they got beat it looked really bad.
Offense Overall: B-
I didn't see any glaring coaching errors in this game. Both the offensive and defensive game plans were solid. The team played with their hair on fire and constant effort all day long. They made some mistakes, but that wasn't on the coaching staff. The team was prepared and should have won the game. It just didn't go their way today, but it's clear this team is ready to challenge the elite teams in the league sooner than later.