For the second straight week, JaMarcus Russell and the rest of his teammates on the offensive side of the ball struggled to execute even the simplest of plays. That poor execution would lead to a second divisional loss to the Denver Broncos, 23-3.
After gaining only 166 total net yards in a victory over the Chiefs the week before, the Raiders were not able to stretch 137 total net yards into a second straight victory. The Raiders netted only 47 yards passing and 95 yards rushing, and held the ball for only 23:45 of the game.
Russell, who had been criticized all week for his 35.2% completion rating and his 46.6 QB rating, completed 12 of 21 (57.1%) for 61 yards and two interceptions.
On the Raiders’ second possession of the game, he threw an interception to former Raider Renaldo Hill from his own end zone. The pass was intended for fellow first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey, while he was double covered. The interception was returned to the Oakland 23, and six plays later, Kyle Orton connected with Brandon Marshall for the Broncos’ first score of the game.The interception came after the Raiders’ defense had just held off Denver with an inspired goal line stand. The Broncos, faced with a fourth and goal from the one, sent former Raider LaMont Jordan up the middle. Much like the results Jordan had when he was a Raider, the play was stopped at the half-yard mark, where the Raiders took over possession.
The first interception has to go on me being backed up. I called the play. I thought we could get them in a single-high safety and they bailed out to a two and Darrius fell down on that. The bottom line is probably not a great play call on me
– Tom Cable on the first interception
On the Raiders’ next possession, Russell attempted another long pass to Heyward-Bey in heavy traffic. Once again, the ball was intercepted–this time by Andre’ Goodman. Goodman returned the pick to the Raiders’ 34-yard line. After the interception, rookies Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy had to be separated on the sidelines, but minutes later the two were talking over the play in an attempt to rectify their mistakes.
The Oakland Raiders are a big play team, and I think [Russell] was afraid to take those shots after we picked him off a couple of times early.
– Josh McDaniels on Raiders turnovers
This time, the defense didn’t allow a touchdown, but the four yards that the Broncos gained was enough to get a 48 yard field goal from Matt Prater–putting the Broncos up 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
To start the second quarter, the Raiders’ offense showed signs of life. After starting their drive at their own 14, Russell led the Raiders on a 12 play, 56 yard drive that lasted for 8:23 and resulted in a 48 yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal. The drive left 6:37 to go in the half with the Raiders down by only seven points.
As has been the Raiders’ M.O. over the last several years, a good offensive series was followed up by a poor defensive series. The Raiders’ defense allowed Orton and the Broncos to march from their own 21 down to the Raiders’ three and a first down. The defense tightened up once again, but the damage was done. Prater kicked a 21 yard field goal to put the Broncos up by 10 with a little over a minute to go in the half.
The Broncos opened the second half with a eight play, 80 yard touchdown drive, culminating in a Knowshon Moreno seven yard scamper around the left end. The touchdown made the score 20-3, a deficit the hapless Raiders would not be able to erase.
With a little more than six minutes to go in the third quarter, Correll Buckhalter appeared to opened the door with the Raiders down 20-3. Buckhalter fumbled at the Broncos own 16 yard line where Raiders’ safety Mike Mitchell recovered.
Instead of breathing new life into the Raiders’ offense, it placed a stamp on their futility. Two plays into the series, former first-round pick Darren McFadden fumbled the ball at the Broncos’ six, after gaining six yards. The fumble was McFadden’s third of the afternoon and the first that the Broncos recovered, but it was also the last carry the second-year back would get on the day.
It’s a huge concern. Take care of the football. We talk about it all the time, ball security. What’d we have, three turnovers? Three fumbles, we lost only one but it was a big one.
– Tom Cable on McFadden’s fumbles
With the Broncos’ recovery, they drove the final nail in Oakland’s coffin. Orton led the Broncos on a 16 play, 88 yard drive that ended at the Raiders’ six and set up another Prater field goal–this time a 24 yard make.
During the game, Russell was booed mercilessly by Raider Nation. The booing started late in the first quarter and continued throughout the game. On several occasions, the crowd chanted, “Russell sucks!” By the end of the game, a handful of the 45,602 who attended the game were still present and booing loudly anytime that Russell took the field.
Nothing gets better than 3-0, but we also know that we are very humble and we have got to understand that it’s a long way to go and a lot of things to improve on, a lot of good football teams to play, but we are happy to be 3-0. Certainly not satisfied with the way we played in any one game. We got a group of guys here that got to go back to work this week and work hard and try to get better.
– Josh McDaniels on being 3-0
With the victory, Denver takes a commanding position in the AFC West with a 3-0 (1-0) record, while the Raiders begin their toughest stretch of the season at 1-2 (1-2). Next week, Oakland will travel to Houston to take on the high-scoring Texans.
Obviously, you have to take you hat off to Denver. I thought they came in here and really managed and handled the football game right from the beginning. We were not able to stop them from running the football. I though we would have a chance to run it early in the game but we could never get on track throwing the football. Obviously the turnovers were huge issues. I think they scored a number of points off them. But I thought effort wise, OK. We were just not very sharp on either side of the ball, third down was an issue on both sides of the football. We got outplayed. That’s the bottom line here.
– Tom Cable after the game