By Barbara Mason
They say things get very serious in the NFL after the Thanksgiving holiday; so guess what folks it’s the weekend after Turkey Day and the Oakland Raiders had better get very serious. They are teetering on the edge of a complete wash-out, that is, unless they can get past the Denver Broncos. That would only be the beginning but it would be the first step in a long road back. The first two games of the season seem a lifetime ago; a time when nothing but optimism reigned. How could things have gone so terribly wrong so quickly.
A real sleeper was underway as the Raiders faced their division rival Denver Broncos Sunday afternoon. The first quarter came to an end and neither team had scored although Denver was threatening thanks to a Derek Carr fumble deep in Raider territory. In fact had it not been for some major fisticuffs in the first quarter between Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib that resulted in ejection for both, the quarter could have gone down as one ho hum affair. Not only were Crabtree and Talib ejected, Gabe Jackson would join Crabtree in the locker room when he was shoved into an official during the fracas. It was one disappointing quarter for both teams. It would seem that Crabtree and Talib picked up where they left off last January. No love lost between those two!
As the second quarter got underway it looked as if the Broncos would score the first points of this game. Snapping the ball deep in Raiders territory the unimaginable happened as a Paxton Lynch pass into the end zone was deflected by Reggie Nelson falling into the hands of NaVorro Bowman. Oakland had the break of the game and now it would be up to the offense to cash in. The Raiders were back in business on their own 25 line yard. Oakland would put together a nice drive that resulted in a 9 yard Carr to Cooper pass into the end zone. It would be the Raiders not the Broncos that would put points up on the board, the first of the game, 7-0.
The second quarter was a costly one for the Raiders. when WR Amari Cooper was sandwiched by two Denver defenders. Cooper lay on the field motionless for a number of minutes but the good news was that the cart that came out to collect him was sent off the field. Coop was able to walk off the field after the hit under his own power. (It would be later disclosed that Cooper was under concussion protocol). The Broncos would be penalized for the vicious hit putting Oakland inside the five yard line. Lynch would cross the goal line for the Raiders giving his team a 14-0 lead with 2:49 left in the half. The score remained 14-0 at the half.
Oakland would start the third quarter with a couple of sacks on Denver’s Paxton Lynch making a total of 4 sacks so far in this game. The Raiders would go on to score their third touchdown when Carr would connect with Jalen Richard for a 21-0 lead. The Oakland defense and offense came to play Sunday despite the loss of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper showing real depth in their receiving core. The third quarter would come to an end with the Raiders still holding a 21-0 lead,
The shutout was not to be. Paxton Lynch would leave the game with an ankle injury replaced by Trevor Siemian who would lead Denver downfield finding Cody Latimer for 25 yards and a touchdown. Oakland would answer with a successful drive down to the Bronco 25 yard line. An attempted field goal by Giorgio Tavecchio would fail and the score would remain 21-7.
Denver would make things very interesting and a bit uncomfortable for Oakland when Siemian would find Bennie Fowler III for 22 yards and their second touchdown of the day now trailing 21-14. It was too little too late for the Broncos and Oakland would hold on for the win 21-14. Denver would simply run out of time, a good thing for Oakland since the Broncos really turned it on in the fourth quarter. It was an ugly opening quarter for Oakland and a less than stellar final quarter for the Silver and Black. Next week the Raiders take on the New York Giants in another very winnable game, looking at the opportunity of reaching the five hundred mark.
Look for more from Head Coach Jack Del Rio coming soon.