In a game that was worthy of the lineage of the Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders rivalry, the Raiders won 20-19 in a thriller at Invesco Field at Mile High to put a dent in Denver’s playoff hopes.
This was a rematch of a 23-3 drubbing in week three. The lead changed hands several times and former number one pick JaMarcus Russell came off the bench to engineer the final game winning drive. The passions ran high as there were a couple of almost fights and big hits. It was everything that fans have come to expect when these two teams take the field.
Early on, it looked like it was going to be a repeat of the first meeting between the two; with the Broncos driving for two early scores and the Raiders offense unable to even convert a first down until the tail end of the first quarter. However, the worm turned in the second quarter when the Raiders took control of the game. The Raiders scored 13 unanswered points in the second quarter, with the Broncos only able to run ten offensive plays for no damage.
The second half started with the Broncos driving ten plays and the Raiders and hitting a 52 yard field goal. The Raiders gave the ball back when Darren McFadden fumbled at midfield. The Broncos capitalized by driving down for their first touchdown to regain the lead.
Charlie Frye would go out with a concussion and be replaced by JaMarcus Russell and the teams exchanged the ball a few times before Denver would strike again. Kyle Orton hit Brandon Stokley for a 62 yard pass play that gave them the ball first and goal at the Raiders’ 2 yard line with a chance to put the game away. The Raiders defense held and forced the Broncos to settle for a field goal.
Both teams exchanged three and outs, and the Raiders started their final drive at their own 39 with 3:29 left in the game. JaMarcus Russell was under center. The drive started out looking like a repeat of Russell’s performance against the Washington Redskins with him fumbling the ball during a sack. This time, he was fortunate that the ball was recovered by one of his offensive linemen. The second play was incomplete. Then a pass interference call against Denver gave the Raiders 32 yards and set the them up near mid field. Russell was drilled at one point, knocking the wind out of him, and forcing the recently signed JP Losman to come in for one play. Russell re-entered the game and converted a 4th and 10 by hitting Tony Stewart for 11 yards. Russell would ultimately hit Chaz Schilens for the winning touchdown.
This performance will likely save Tom Cable’s job. The Raiders as a team have a history of going into the tank late in seasons like this, but they keep fighting. They are 3-3 since their midseason bye week.
Tom Cable said that if Bruce Gradkowski is good to go, he will be the starter against the Browns on Sunday. If healthy, Charlie Frye will be the starter if Gradkowski can’t go. He reiterated that either one of them would give the team the better chance to win.