It could’ve been a lot worse than it was.
The Oakland Raiders ended the first quarter of yesterday’s game against the Denver Broncos in a similar spot to their domination by the Washington Redskins last Sunday night. Their offense couldn’t get anything started, and their defense was letting up big plays left and right.
One of their units recovered. The other didn’t, and nearly lost its best player long-term in the process.
The Broncos came out victorious, besting the Raiders 16-10 at Mile High Stadium. It was largely a battle between the two defenses, with the scoring units not doing much after the first quarter. The Raiders offense was especially limited by an elite Broncos defense.
Derek Carr put up similar numbers to last week’s game, going 10 for 18 and 143 yards through the air. Denver’s secondary and pass rush was in top form throughout the contest. He did manage to find Johnny Holton on a 64-yard touchdown bomb in the second quarter, though.
However, Carr did not finish the game. He took an awkward hit from Adam Gotsis on a third-quarter sack, injuring his back in the process. Preliminary reports have stated that Carr suffered a spot of back spasms; he will likely be able to suit up next Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens.
EJ Manuel took over the rest of the way, putting up a decent statline of 11/17 and 106 yards. He actually completed his first eight passes, and the next three were all dropped, including two in the end zone by Jared Cook. Manuel’s final two passes on the would-be gaming winning drive were not pretty, however. He nearly tossed an interception to Chris Harris Jr. on the first and actually threw one to Justin Simmons on the next play, which ended the game.
Holton’s lone catch led the Raiders in receiving yards. Seth Roberts and Cordarrelle Patterson were able to produce okay numbers underneath, finishing with 49 and 33 yards on 4 and 6 catches, respectively. With Michael Crabtree out with a chest injury, the Broncos were able to effectively take Amari Cooper out of the game, mostly with top-notch coverage from Bradley Roby. Cooper had just 9 yards on 2 catches.
The Broncos also happen to have the best run defense in the league, which showed. Marshawn Lynch put up a paltry 12 yards on 9 carries. Von Miller was actually held in check for the most part, though he did get a sack.
As previously mentioned, the Raiders defense did not get off to a good start. They were trounced by big plays from Bennie Fowler and A.J. Derby on the first drive, with the latter scoring a TD on an outstanding one-handed catch. The Broncos also got a Brandon McManus field goal on the following drive to close out the first quarter.
After that, however, the Raiders stiffened up defensively, allowing just two more McManus field goals. Trevor Siemian got most of his stats in the first half. He finished with 179 yards and the TD to Derby on 16 for 26 passing.
Derby led the team with 4 catches for 75 yards and the TD. Outside of that, the rest of the Broncos receivers were fairly quiet. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas had just 4 catches for 27 yards and a catch for 11 yards, respectively, a result of excellent coverage from T.J. Carrie and Sean Smith, who had to essentially man the cornerback corps by themselves with Gareon Conley out and David Amerson leaving early with a concussion.
C.J. Anderson had 95 yards on 20 carries, though 40 of those came on one long run that set up McManus’ second field goal. Jamaal Charles looked effective in limited action, rushing 5 times for 33 yards, though he briefly left the game to attend to a cut on his knee.
Jack Del Rio made some strange coaching decisions during the game. He eschewed a long field goal attempt from Giorgio Tavecchio in favor of going for it on 4th and short with Lynch, who was bottled up. Had Tavecchio made that kick, the Raiders could’ve been going for a field goal on their final drive instead of a TD.
They also had no timeouts on said drive, since the Raiders spent them all beforehand. Del Rio also had Marquette King try a fake punt late in the third, which failed. King got flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty for throwing the ball at a Broncos defender, giving Denver great field position, though they came away with no points after McManus doinked a kick off the left upright.
The Raiders sit at 2-2. They will host Baltimore next Sunday late. The Broncos, now 3-1, will take their bye week.