If you just started watching the Raiders last week, you would think you were watching the offense from the abysmal 2006 season. It was only by the grace of a fine defensive performance that the Raiders were able to stay in this game right up to the end.
The offense got nothing going on offense in the first quarter. They had just 22 yards of offense, didn’t have a single first down, let alone a third down conversion. And the Broncos were up 10-0.
Early on the Raiders defense wasn’t great either. After a stout first series which included a sack by Mario Edwards Jr, they allowed the Broncos to drive for a touchdown on their second drive. That drive ended with two long passes to tight end AJ Derby, the first for 29 yards and the last on a 22-yard touchdown in which Derby made an impressive one-handed grab for the score.
That was the only touchdown the Broncos would get, though they were able to drive for four more field goal attempts, missing the final attempt.
It was midway through the second quarter before the Raiders got their first first down. It came on their first series on a 13-yard connection with Jared Cook. Then got another first down on the next play on a 15-yard catch by Seth Roberts.
Their hopes would end, though, without a score. On third and 6 at the Denver 36, they picked up 5 yards. Jack Del Rio opted to go for it on fourth and one and Marshawn Lynch was stuffed for no gain causing a turnover on down.
The next series, the Raiders would continue to show signs of life, by getting their first third down conversion since week 2. They had gone 0-15 after going 0-11 in Washington and starting this game 0-4. Then Jalen Richard caught a short screen pass and took it for 20 yards.
The next play, Johnny Holton went deep and Carr launched it and it dropped right into his arms for a 64-yard touchdown to bring it to 10-7 at the half.
Little did anyone know at the time, but that third down conversion would be one of just two the Raiders converted on the day, finishing 2-12, which means they have gone 2 of 23 on third down the past two weeks.
A 40-yard run by CJ Anderson in the third quarter would put the Broncos in field goal range again. Even with Khalil Mack getting a sack, they were still able to get in range for a 36-yarder to bring the score to 13-7.
A short time later, right tackle Menelik Watson would leave hurt. Donald Stephenson would enter the game and Khalil Mack would get around him for his second sack of the day. But the Broncos drive had started in scoring range after a long punt return, so the sack merely ensured they didn’t score a touchdown.
The very next play, Derek Carr was sacked. Adam Gotsis was the second man to hit Carr and on his way down and Gotsis’s knee struck Carr in the back, knocking him out of the game.
That drive would end in a very strange fake punt attempt at the Raiders own 33-yard-line. It failed miserably with Marquette King getting stopped for a loss of three. Then King made matters worse by getting up and throwing the ball at the defender and getting flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
After the stop and the penalty, the Broncos took over at the Oakland 15. Once again the defense held, and this time Brandon McManus would miss the chip shot 29-yard attempt that would have put the Broncos up 12 to start the 4th. Jack Del Rio got very lucky his gamble didn’t cost them and the score remained 16-7.
EJ Manuel would come in for Carr and take over the rest of the way and played rather well. Certainly compared to what the offense was doing before. Manuel drove the Raiders for a field goal to make it a one score game at 16-10.
From there, with just over five minutes remaining, the defense held and the Raiders got the ball back down six points at their own 42-yard-line. Manuel completed passes to Olawale and Seth Roberts. A pass right where it needed to be for Jared Cook went through Cook’s hands with the safety bearing down. Cook catches that and the Raiders take the lead with under two minutes.
Another pass to Olawale for 9 yards set up third and one and Olawale got the first down on a 2-yard run at the 36-yard-line at the two minute warning.
Coming back from it, Manuel would throw incomplete, then throw for Amari Cooper who had already had another drop in this game to lead the league with 7 in four games. The pass floated a bit short, but Cooper would have a 50/50 shot at it and lost that shot to a leaping Justin Simmons to end it.
The production the Raiders desperately needed from Marshawn Lynch never materialized. He ran 9 times for 12 yards (1.3 yards per carry), giving him just 30 yards on 15 carries over the past two weeks (2.0 yards per carry).
Michael Crabtree was out with a chest injury and Amari Cooper is playing the worst football of his career. He caught 2 passes for 8 yards on 9 targets in this game and the jump ball he couldn’t win. The Raiders needed production on the ground and just didn’t get any, finishing with 24 net yards on the ground.
The Raiders fall to 2-2, the first time they have been .500 since week two of 2016. They are in sole possession of third in the division above only the still winless Chargers.