I do give Musgrave some credit for coming to the realization that throwing to the tight end was the way to move the ball on the Broncos. He didn't come to that realization until halftime, however, after the Raiders offense floundered against the Broncos stifling cornerback unit in the first half.
But even after the offense finally dug itself out of their historic negative 12-yard hole from the first half, there were still some head scratching moments to follow. The very next series for the Raiders, they lined up in third and 10 and attempted the most ill-fated wide receiver screen. Well, it was the most until the next time they did it later in the game.
The very next drive, the Raiders got the ball in great field position at the Denver 41-yard-line. In three plays, they were in third and one at the 32-yard-line - you know, field goal range? -- so of course Carr drops back to pass. They didn't even attempt a play action fake. Carr is sacked for a 12-yard-loss and the Raiders punt. A run on the play would have either picked up the first down or given the Raiders a manageable fourth down attempt. But nope, punt.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, following the safety that put the Raiders within three points at 12-9, they were again in third and very long (14). That's when they again attempted an inside wide receiver screen. And again, the Broncos were all over it as it fell incomplete. I guess we should be thankful neither of those hideous screen attempts resulted in pick sixes.
Opposing defenses have cracked the code on Musgrave's offense and he needs to try and find some tricks up his sleeves somewhere. I realize the Broncos have the toughest defense in the NFL. But even against them, one scoring drive isn't cutting it. The defense completely bailed out the offense in this game. Had they not held the Broncos offense out the end zone and held them scoreless in the second half, we would be telling a different story this week.
He was called for holding on the Broncos first scoring drive. Then he was again called for holding on their third scoring drive and also gave up a 6-yard catch. On the Broncos' final drive of the first half, he gave up a 17-yard catch on third and 15. It was lucky to be stopped at the 2-yard-line when Ben Heeney and TJ Carrie converged on Demaryius Thomas. Had they not been there, the Broncos would have had a 16-0 lead at half time. Considering the Raiders won 15-12, that 16 points may have been enough. It was the first time these two teams played.
Just as Jackson's season has gotten worse lately, his game Sunday seemed to get worse as the day went alone. The very first offensive play for the Raiders, Jackson missed his block to give up a run stuff for a one yard gain. The first run of the second quarter, Jackson gave up a stuff for no gain. The Raiders final offensive play (besides the kneel downs) was a run play on third and 18 in which Jackson gave up a tackle for a loss of 5 yards. Honestly, I can only recall one positive run in this game where Jackson had a block. He just doesn't look like himself these days.
Though his blocking wasn't great and the Broncos defense is stout, Murray wasn't doing himself any favors. Great running backs can often making something out of nothing or turn negative runs into positive ones. He didn't do that once in this game.
His first drive was an ugly one. He ran for one yard on his first carry. Then he was the target in the left flat on the next play and fell down. A few plays later, he missed his gap inside right tackle, opting instead for the hole inside right guard and was stopped for a short gain.
On the Raiders' first touchdown drive early in the third quarter, he wasn't of much assistance. He was tackled for a one-yard gain on first down. Then actually had his second longest run of the day on second down for six yards (his longest run went for 7 yards). A few plays later, he had room to bounce out left but went inside instead and was stopped for no gain.
On the Raiders' final two possessions, he had a run in which he didn't follow his blocker and was tackled for no gain, and a run in which he was out left and reversed field completely to the right side which of course drew an illegal block in the back penalty.
He finished with 27 yards on 16 carries (1.7 yards per carry). That's the worst yards per carry since he became the starter late last season.
He gave up one of the three sacks on Carr in this game. It came on third and one midway through the third quarter for a loss of 12 to take the Raiders out of field goal range. Then on the first play of the fourth quarter, in third and 9, he was called for a false start to put the Raiders in third and longer and they couldn't pick it up. I also didn't a single positive run in the game in which Penn was the blocker.
He had one field goal attempt in this game. With the Raiders up 15-12 midway through the fourth quarter, he lined up for a 43-yard attempt. The snap was a bit off line, but Marquette King pulled it down and placed it perfectly, laces out, and Janikowski missed it wide left.
He came into the game needing 80 yards to reach 1000 on the season. And he left needing 80 yards. No Raiders player ever has been targeted as many times (8) as Cooper was in this game and came away without a catch. Most were off target throws, with one being defended in tight coverage. He also was called for an illegal block on the Murray cutback run.