It kinda seems like a lifetime ago the Raiders played that Sunday night game. But I checked the calendar and remarkably this is just a day late. Apologies for the delay, there was this little ‘election’ thing going on yesterday. Hopefully looking back on the Raiders’ dominant win over the hated Broncos can act as a sufficient distraction to all that.
This was a beatdown pretty much from start to finish on both sides of the ball. The Raiders defense locked down and the running game had its best game of the season. They also won the turnover battle 2-0. That was a recipe for the Raiders to lead wire-to-wire and to dominate time of possession the likes of which they hadn’t seen since the early 90s and win 30-20.
The win broke the tie between the two teams atop the AFC West. The Raiders (7-2) now have sole possession of the division lead, with the Broncos (6-3) dropping to third behind the Chiefs (6-2).
Due to the dominance in time of possession, the defense was on the field for just over 18 minutes. In that time, Mack made his presence felt. The Raiders defense forced four straight three-and-outs. In those 12 plays, Mack had a pass tipped at the line for an incompletion.
Just as he had in their last meeting with the Broncos, Mack came on in the second half. Holding onto a 20-10 lead, the Broncos began a drive late in the third. On that drive, Mack had a run stuff for two yards, his first sack for a 9-yard loss, and assisted in the tackle to end the drive on a short catch. The Broncos settled for a field goal to pull to a 20-13 deficit.
The next series lasted four plays. It ended when Mack got around the right tackle and swatted ball out of Trevor Siemian’s hand for the strip sack. Mack then fell on the ball for the recovery. The trifecta. The Raiders took possession at the Denver 39-yard-line and drove for the late touchdown that would prove to be the difference.
Just for good measure, with the Broncos last gasp attempt to score on 4th and 10, Mack got pressure on Siemian again, forcing an off target throw that was picked off by Reggie Nelson to officially seal the win. His day earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week
Speaking of weekly awards, Murray is up for FedEx Ground Player of the Week for his performance in this game.
From the very start, the Raiders set out to establish the run. Murray got the call on the first play and went for five yards. Later, with the Raiders lined up at the Denver 14-yard-line, he ran for 8 yards to the 6. They didn’t stick with the run on third and short and failed to pick it up, settling for a field goal to get on the board first.
Late in the quarter, the Raiders went on their first touchdown drive. Not surprisingly, Murray played a large role in that drive, with three runs for 15 yards. With the team in scoring position at the 9-yard-line, Murray bounced out left, put a stiff arm on a defender and ran to the one-yard-line. Two plays later, he dove over the line for the touchdown to finish it off and give the Raiders a 13-0 lead early in the second.
Late in the half, Murray broke off his biggest run. He ran up the gut, saw a seam to the right and shot through it for 42 yards to set the Raiders up at the 25-yard-line. A pass interference penalty put the Raiders at the one-yard-line. First Murray caught a pass in the flat for a TD, but it was called back by Donald Penn being illegally downfield. So, the Raiders stopped trying to be cute and just had him go up the gut for the touchdown.
Midway through the 4th quarter, the Raiders got the ball off of Mack’s strip sack. A near interception was followed by another Broncos pass interference in the end zone that put the Raiders at the one-yard-line again. And again, they handed it to Murray who dived across the line for the touchdown and a 30-13 lead. That would be enough to win it.
In total, Murray ran for 114 yards on 20 carries (5.7 ypc) with three touchdowns. He added a catch for 13 yards.
Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson
I wouldn’t be giving proper credit for the running success in this game without mentioning these two road graders.
The big block on that 42-yard run by Murray was handed out by Hudson. It was Osemele on the block to finish off that drive with the one-yard Murray touchdown. Both had key blocks on a 5-yard run by Murray to begin the third quarter with Osemele paving the way on three more runs of 5, 6, and 4 yards.
All the linemen contributed in some way to the Raiders gaining 218 yards on the ground and the running backs averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Osemele and Hudson were particularly outstanding.
Six catches for 56 yards is ok numbers. But if you counted the pass interference penalties on Broncos defensive backs who he had burnt or shook, that number would be much higher.
His first catch was a short comebacker caught inside and then spun outside to get away from the corner and pick up 21 yards. It was the biggest play on the Raiders first drive to set up a short field goal.
The next drive, he ran a savage route on a shallow cross inside and then reversing field back outside that had Bradley Roby grab him to keep from being completely wrecked. Coop still caught it for 11 yards and the holding penalty was declined in favor of the first down off the catch. Again, it was the longest play on the drive, but this time the Raiders finished it off with a touchdown.
Late in the second quarter, Coop got behind Roby and again Roby had to grab him, this time to prevent a touchdown. The pass interference penalty put the Raiders at the one-yard-line and they scored a couple plays later.
Cooper’s final catch was important as it came on the Raiders’ final drive as they were hoping to retain possession to drain clock. It went for 9 yards on third and 8 to give them a new set of downs when they needed it and the Broncos got the ball back with 2:20 left, down two scores.
Marquette King, Andre Holmes
Not a pair you usually see together. But it will make sense in a minute. First, their individual work. On the Raiders’ second drive, in third and 7, Andre Holmes made an impressive one-handed grab on a throw that was behind him to pick up 16 yards. It set up the field goal to help the Raiders pull out to a 6-0 lead. He added an 11-yard catch to begin the next drive which ultimately led to a touchdown.
The Raiders didn’t punt until the second quarter. At which point King showed that he’s a weapon too. He got off a 51-yard punt. A holding penalty tacked on started the Broncos at their own 16-yard-line. That was the Raiders’ only punt in the first half.
Come the third quarter, these two worked together to really make life difficult for the Broncos. King’s first punt went 37 yards and landed right in Andre Holmes’s arms at the 2-yard-line. A three-and-out was to follow which set up a 40-yard punt by King which again landed at the two, with Holmes’s downing it this time. A penalty put the Broncos backed up against their own goal line at the one.
After both of those fine punts, King did dances that instantly made him a viral sensation, making fans around the league aware the Raiders have a very good, and very exciting punter. Maybe even Pro Bowl worthy. While Holmes continues to prove that his value to this team is about more than just his work as a receiver.
With Stacy McGee not playing, Latham led all defensive tackles in 26 snaps (48%). The undrafted rookie had a great impact on the game which was important because McGee had been the Raiders best interior lineman before he was lost to injury.
His first tackle was a run stuff for a loss of two. On a drive at the end of the third quarter, with the Raiders holding a 20-10 lead, Latham made sure the damage was limited. He had a tip at the line that was negated by a holding penalty on Cory James. The next play he put pressure on Siemian who threw it where he had no receivers and was called for intentional grounding. That’s a loss of down and a loss of ten which is as good as a sack. Two plays later, the drive ended on third and the Broncos settled for a field goal.
Latham got pressure again on Siemian on the Broncos’ final drive attempt to force an incompletion that was nearly intercepted. Two plays later, Siemian was intercepted and the game was over.
Someone had to pick up the rest of the yards the Raiders put up on the ground Sunday. Most of those were Richard who ran the ball 8 times for 62 yards. His first play was as a return man, bringing a punt back ten yards to get the Raiders’ day started at midfield. He had an 11-yard return on the next punt to again put the Raiders’ offense at the midfield. Both times they drove for a field goal.
On offense, he started by catching a ball for 11 yards despite it being defended. He kept his concentration to pull in the pass anyway.
His next touch was his biggest, bursting up the middle for 28 yards to put the Raiders in scoring position midway through the second quarter. Unfortunately, Sebastian Janikowski missed the 48-yard field goal and the score remained 13-7. A 7-yard run to begin the next drive would set up third and short on a drive that led to a touchdown late in the second quarter.
The Raiders gave him the ball three times on their final drive to drain clock. He picked up 18 yards on those three carries to finish off a solid day for the undrafted rookie scat back including 72 yards of offense and 129 all-purpose yards.
I gotta hand it to him. The Raiders game plan to beat the Broncos on offense was perfect in its simplicity. They ran it down their throats with two running plays in the second half. Musgrave and offensive line coach Mike Tice knew the scheme Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was calling and beat it. There was one time when the offensive linemen were livid and it was when they went away from it and nearly gave up an interception. Thankfully that play didn’t hurt the team so it didn’t put a damper on an otherwise very solid gameplan.
Denico Autry – Got the start with Stacy McGee out. Two of his three tackles were run stuffs on the Broncos’ four game opening three-and-outs. Also added one of his signature tipped passes for an incompletion.