The Broncos scored both of their first two drives, though the Raiders managed to hold them short to force a field goal and limit the damage. The first Broncos drive ended at the 23-yard-line with a solid open field tackle by Ben Heeney. The second drive was stopped at the 17-yard-line with Charles Woodson nearly intercepting a Brock Osweiler pass over the middle.
The Raiders first possession nearly ended in disaster. Von Miller came free around the right side of the offensive line to strip sack Derek Carr which was recovered by the Raiders to set up a punt.
Derek Carr began the game wildly off target. He was 1-5 on his first three drives. He had another incompletion that said high intended for Seth Roberts and nearly intercepted but a Broncos illegal contact penalty gave the Raiders an automatic first down. His only completion went for four yards and his final drop back resulted in a 14-yard sack by Derek Wolfe. Von Miller also got pressure up the middle.
Late in the second quarter, the Broncos went on their longest drive of the day, reaching the 4-yard-line. Two tackles for loss and an incompletion later, and there were lining up for another field goal to take a 9-0 lead.
Another three-and-out by the Raiders gave the Broncos the ball back with 3:36 left in the first half. This time they drove to the Raiders 2-yard-line and AGAIN were stopped and had to settle for a field goal. The key play was a pass defended by David Amerson at the goal line. And incompletion on third down forced the field goal.
Derek Carr went 2 of 8 in the first half for a total of 7 yards and the ground game posted 5 yards. With the yards lost to sacks, the Raiders official first half yards were an NFL record negative 12 yards.
Then came the second half.
So, after getting less than nothing in the first half, the Raiders drove for a touchdown on their opening drive of the second half. Yeah, that happened. Carr went for his tight ends to pick up most of the yards. Starting with a 29-yard completion to Mychal Rivera and a 25-yard connection with Clive Walford. And it was finished off with an 11-yard hook-up with (of course) Seth Roberts. And suddenly it was a one score game at 12-7.
On the Broncos next possession, Khalil Mack would get his tenth sack of the season, becoming the first Raiders pass rusher to reach double digit sacks since Derrick Burgess (11.0) in 2006. Six of those sacks have come in the past five games.
The next Broncos possession featured another big defensive play by the Raiders. Ben Heeney laid the hit on Demaryius Thomas after the catch, forcing the fumble. Charles Woodson picked it up and the Raiders were in business at the Denver 41-yard-line.
That was Charles Woodson's third fumble recovery in two weeks.
The Raiders couldn't capitalize on the turnover, however. Derek Carr was sacked for the third time and the loss of 12 took the Raiders out of field goal range.
Following a perfect coffin corner punt by Marquette King that pinned the Broncos at the 2-yard-line, Khalil Mack came flying in around the left side of the defensive line to strip sack Osweiler in his own end zone. The Broncos recovered for the safety to bring the game to 12-9 with the Broncos kicking back to the Raiders.
The Raiders offense couldn't take advantage, but the special teams picked up the slack again. Broncos return man Emmanuel Sanders couldn't' handle the King punt and long snapper Jon Condo recovered the muff to give the Raiders the ball at the 11-yard-line. A few plays later in third and 15, Mychal Rivera broke wide open in the end zone and Carr hit him for the touchdown.
An extra point would put the Raiders up by four points, but on the muffed punt recovery, Condo would hurt his arm, forcing the Raiders to go for two points. The attempt was unsuccessful and the Raiders took a 15-12 lead. Cond would return later and appear to be fine on his snaps.
Now behind just three points, the Broncos drove into field goal range. But kicker Brandon McManus would miss the 49-yard attempt off the left upright.
Stops by both teams, had the Broncos lining up for a punt. Jeremy Ross took the punt, made a nifty move inside and took the return up the left sideline to the Denver 47. The Raiders moved the ball into field goal range, but the 43-yard attempt was missed by Sebastian Janikowski and the lead remained 15-12.
The ensuing Broncos drive featured another Khalil Mack sack -- his fourth of the game. That's pretty good. In fact, that was his sack total the entirety of last season.
After another short possession by the Raiders, Marquette King placed another punt inside the ten and the Broncos would have 2:35 to drive for a field goal to try and tie it.
And you'll never believe what happened. Khalil Mack got his sack number five of the game. Five sacks. The Broncos offense couldn't get into scoring range to turn the ball over on downs and the Raiders walk away with the improbable win.
The Broncos fall out of the top playoff seed in the AFC at 10-3. The Raiders improve to 6-7 and actually keep their slim playoff hopes alive.