There was some progress though. Or it would appear. This time they only blew a 12-point lead and managed to score once in the second half. So, the result was a crushing game-winning field goal instead of just getting routed as they did in the opener.
In this one, it was a few plays that eluded them. The result was a late drive by the Broncos to kick the game winning field goal.
Derek Carr, Amari Cooper
The opener was an out and out disaster for Carr. And part of that was getting the ball to Amari Cooper just once for nine yards. He turned it around in Denver and Coop was the top beneficiary of that, catching 10 passes on 10 targets for 116 yards.
Really Coop should have had a touchdown as well, but at the end of the first drive, Carr didn’t see him wide open in the back of the end zone and instead checked down to Marshawn Lynch for a 4-yard loss, resulting in the Raiders settling for a field goal to open the game.
A couple of three-and-out series in the first quarter plus missing an open Coop and it early on it was looking a lot like the opener, minus the opening drive touchdown. That all changed at the end of the first quarter.
On first down, Carr found Coop for a 14-yard reception. Next play he found him again for 7 yards. Three more completions and Carr had started the game 10 of 10 for 90 yards and the Raiders added another field goal to go up 6-0.
By half time, Carr was 18 of 19 for 158 yards and had driven the Raiders down field for a touchdown and a 12-0 lead. Though he had yet to convert a third down.
On the Raiders first drive of the third quarter, he wouldn’t even need third down. That’s because Amari Cooper would break wide open for a 30-yard completion followed by a 20-yard completion. Two plays later, Carr threw the best looking pass he had all season on a rope to Seth Roberts up the seam for the touchdown from 20 yards out.
After the Broncos scored for a second time in the third quarter to pull the score to 19-10, the Raiders started mounting another answer. It included the first third down conversion of the game on a 13-yard pass to Cooper. Then the second one on the same drive, again on a pass to Coop for four yards on third and two. A 7-yard completion to Coop would put the Raiders in third and 3. The Raiders ran the ball with Jalen Richard and couldn’t pick it up. In 4th and one from the 33-yard-line, it was decision time. Go back up 12 or try for more. They went for it and what should have been a first down was dropped by Keith Smith for a turnover on downs.
The Broncos drove for a touchdown to pull within two at 19-17. A couple completions wouldn’t be enough because the last one was gained only 3 yards on a hot read on third and 8. That gave the Broncos enough time to drive for the game winner.
Regardless of what else was going wrong on defense, most notably the utter lack of pass rush, Melvin was lights out. In the first half, he had more catches than anyone in his coverage. On third and six with the Broncos down 6-0 at the Oakland 18-yard-line, Case Keenum threw for Demaryius Thomas in the end zone. Melvin picked off the pass at the goal line, stopping the Broncos best chance to score.
The first play of the third quarter Melvin would give up his only catch in the game for 21 yards. In the fourth quarter alone, he had a QB hit on a blitz for an incompletion, tight coverage on an incompletion, and a pass defended.
Now, before you go looking at Marshawn’s 3.6 yards per carry, you must also understand that not all short runs are created equal. For instance, his touchdown which was from one-yard out. Or his hard-fought one-yard run on third and one to give the Raiders a fresh set of downs and eat more clock on their final drive. Those runs were huge. If you remove them, his yards per carry jumps to 3.9 yards per carry, but you don’t have a touchdown and a crucial first down.
Marshawn also had runs of 6 yards and 10 yards on the Raiders opening scoring drive, a long run called back by an unnecessary holding penalty from Seth Roberts on their second scoring drive, a 7-yard catch to set up his TD run off first and goal at the one, a 9-yard run to lead out their next touchdown drive, and an 8-yard run to lead out the following drive that ended on 4th and one.
Kolton Miller – If this were just about pass protection, he would probably be a Baller. But his run blocking was atrocious, leading to at least 3 run stuffs at the line alone – a couple of which Shaq Barrett made him look ridiculous. He also gave up pressure on third down on the Raiders second drive that led to a three-and-out. But he settled down and overall, against a tough pass rushing team, he deserves a lot of credit for not giving up a sack.
Arden Key – Another rookie with a laudible performance. He had a tackle for loss and a couple QB hits.