“I think a lot of it has to do with just the mentality of how we’re playing our coverage,” said Raiders’ head coach Tom Cable when discussing why the Raiders’ secondary had only two interceptions after playing in six games. On the first play from scrimmage for the Denver Broncos, Raiders corner Chris Johnson jumped a route and intercepted a Kyle Orton pass intended for Jabar Gaffney, then took it 30 yards the other way to put the Raiders on top 14-0 just after 4:24 of play.
In recent years the Raiders (3-4, 2-0 AFC West) would allow their opponent entry back into the game, but Cable’s Raiders kept scoring until they had broken a franchise record and come away from Mile High with a 59-14 victory over their longtime AFL rival Denver Broncos (2-5, 0-1 AFC West). The last time the Raiders scored 50+ points was September 29, 2002, when they tied the old franchise record in a 52-25 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Oakland.
“Obviously, it’s a heck of a win,” said Cable during his post game press conference. “It’s a great job by our football team and our coaching staff to get this team prepared and then to go out and execute a play. The players were fantastic in all three phases.”
The Raiders began the game on offense at their own 20 after the kickoff was downed for a touchback. Jason Campbell, coming off last week’s worst game by an Oakland quarterback in 35 years, took the field for the Raiders — despite being hobbled all week with a knee injury. Methodically, Campbell led the Raiders’ offense on a nine-play drive that resulted in a 43-yard touchdown pass to Zach Miller on a misdirection play. On the drive, Campbell even dispelled any doubt of his health while scrambling for a 15-yard first down.
During the week, it appeared that Campbell would be on the sidelines watching teammate Kyle Boller taking the snaps, but by Friday he was certain he’d be in the starting lineup. “Wednesday was a day where you just didn’t know – with the swelling and everything was still there,” said Campbell of his sore knee. “Friday it was really feeling good – just a couple nags here and there but nothing that would keep me from playing.”
On the touchdown play, Miller lined up on the right side of the line. While the entire offense moved towards the right as if they were running a power-right run, Miller went left. A fake hand-off by Campbell to Darren McFadden later, and Miller was sitting all alone near the left sideline 20 yards down field.
Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels attributed the big play to a mistake on defense. “We had played a lot of man-to-man coverage and most of the time we had somebody specific lined up and ready to go on Zach Miller and we didn’t account for him – they had a good play-action pass.”
After Johnson’s pick six, the Raiders led 14-0, but Denver’s second play on offense didn’t fare much better. Denver attempted an end around to the right side of the line to receiver Demaryius Thomas, but Stanford Routt got to him after a yard and forced a fumble. Rookie defensive end Lamarr Houston picked up the fumble and lumbered into the Broncos’ end zone, but Thomas had been ruled down by contact — the review showed a fumble, so Cable threw the flag to overturn the play. Since the play had been called dead, the Raiders were given the ball at the Denver 21.
It took the Raiders just three plays, with two to Darren McFadden — a 16-yard pass and a four-yard run — and the Raiders went up 21-0. McFadden’s short run went off the left side of the line where there wasn’t a Bronco nearby to stop him. The third-year back had what may have been his finest game as a pro, rushing for 165 yards (16 for 165, 10.3 ypc, 3 TD’s) and adding 31 yards (2 rcpts, 1 TD) on the day and accounting for four Raiders touchdowns.
The four touchdowns tied McFadden with Art Powell (’63), Marcus Allen (’84), and Harvey Williams (’97) for most TD’s and points scored in a game by an Oakland Raider. His three rushing touchdowns tied him with eight others for most in a game as well, leading the runner to hand out compliments after the game. “The O-line did a great job of opening holes out there, receivers were picking up the DB’s so that we could get the long runs in and the tight ends were doing a great job. It was just a great day for our offense.”
The Raiders didn’t take their foot off the pedal. Later in the first quarter, they would get a Sebastian Janikowski 31-yard field goal to get to 24-0, and tie the team’s all-time record for most points in a quarter. The Raiders followed that up with 14 points in the second and 21 points in the third, before easing up on the hapless Broncos and inserting third-string quarterback Boller in for handing off to Rock Cartwright.
The Raiders come back to Oakland for two more rivalry games before they take get their bye week. This coming Sunday, former divisional rival Seattle will come to town followed by all-time rival Kansas City. The Chiefs, after winning on Sunday, improved to 4-2 on the season with a 42-20 victory over Jacksonville. When they visit the Raiders, they will be the only other AFC West team undefeated in the division at 1-0.
- WR Darrius Heyward-Bey missed the game due to illness.
- WR Louis Murphy left the game after re-injuring his left shoulder a freak play where he hit one of the Raiders on a pass play with his arm straight up.
- OG Robert Gallery strained his calf, RB Michael Bennett (coming back from a hamstring injury) strained a hamstring (which hamstring wasn’t revealed), CB Chris Johnson and DE Matt Shaughnessy left the game with concussions, and (LB) Kamerion Wimbley strained his groin.
- OT/OC Jared Veldheer may have won the job at left tackle over Mario Henderson, but you might not see him play there for a couple of weeks. OC Samson Satele left the game in the second half with a concussion, forcing Cable to move Veldheer back to center and Henderson at left tackle. Henderson seems to fallen so far out of favor with Cable that TE Zach Miller also played left tackle on several plays. With the way concussions are being handled in the NFL, Satele will have to pass a battery of tests before being allowed back on the field.
- OT Langston Walker left the field after being shaken up, so Khalif Barnes came in to cover for him. Barnes, who joined the Raiders as a left tackle in 2009, would also be available to play the position in place of Veldheer while the rookie lineman covers at center.
- The Raiders rushed for 328 yards in the win — just 28 yards shy from the team record of 356 set 11-30-87 at Seattle. That was the famous Bo Jackson Monday night game where Bo ran over ‘The Boz’ on his way to 221 yards and a Raider single-game rushing record at the time.
- The Raiders now lead the all-time regular season series against the Broncos 57-41-2. The 45-point victory is not the largest margin of victory by the Oakland over Denver. The Raiders handed the Broncos a 51-0 drubbing at Oakland on 9-10-67.