Being an East coast Bronco fan, I had to stay up pretty late last night to watch the end of the game. In some ways, I'm glad I did because I got to witness the events that have lead to so much wailing and gnashing of teeth already. Coffee is my friend. Since we have already started the death spiral that is QB talk, I am going to focus on the other Broncos who played last night. There was some good, but a lot of bad.
Once the rains hit, it appeared to me that the Raiders weren't slipping on the wet field and the Broncos were. Did the Broncos forget to switch to longer cleats? Did anyone else notice this?
1 blocked punt, 2 lost fumbles, 1 interception, 10 penalties - and we still had a chance to win.
The Battle in the Trenches
The DL actually did not play as badly as the rushing yards against would indicate. Bunkley and Vickerson were generally stalemating or pushing back the Raiders OL on running plays. McBean and Unrein were not. Losing Doom for a good portion of the game actually hurt in this respect because he played well against in the run in the preseason. Unfortunately some missed tackles at the point of attack really inflated the total rushing yards against the Broncos. On that long DMF run immediately after the fumble TO, Mays overruns the play and misses badly on the cutback allowing DMF to get to the second level untouched where he made two more Broncos defenders miss. On the final drive by the Raiders where all we needed was to stop the run, McBean whiffs badly on an arm tackle allowing Bush to get his first good run of the night. Bush was really kept in check until that final drive. Miller had a couple of plays where his lack of NFL experience showed in terms of overrunning plays or missing tackles at the point of attack.
Our OL vs their DL. First the good - at least two of the sacks that Orton took where his fault for holding on to the ball too long - the second sack from Seymour and one from the first half. The pass blocking was actually quite good (despite the 5 sacks) given the fact that the Raiders KNEW we weren't going to run the ball any more. There were two holding penalties that were either called on the wrong guy or just horrible calls by the officials. Now the bad - our OL was generating absolutely no push last night. Moreno had 8 carries, McGahee 4. On exactly two of those plays our RB did not have to make someone miss behind the LOS. This was very reminiscent of last year. McCoy abandoned the run because of the lack of push from the OL, but also because McClain was playing the way that we had hoped Mays would play. With the 4 D lineman occupying all 5 OL, McClain was shooting gaps and blowing up running plays.
Missed tackles For the most part the Raiders were not missing tackles (or our guys were not making them miss). On the other the Broncos were missing tackles. I specifically remember missed tackles by Goodman, Mays, McBean, Miller, Bunkley and Vickerson last night. I'm sure that if I were to watch the film, there would be others.
The D actually did fairly well at getting 3rd down stops, holding the Raiders to 5-14. The 3rd and 13 draw play sticks in my craw, but other than that we were much better at getting 3rd down stops than in 2010. We got fours three and outs from the D. Surprisingly the Broncos O have zero 3 and outs (although we had a "1 and fumble" and a "3 and fumble") last night.
Dropped passes There were two very notable ones, Royal's and McGahee's, but I recall some others.
Luck the metaphysical thing, not the kid from Stanford. Matt Prater, the most accurate kicker in NFL history from 50+ (at least before last night) inexplicably hits a knuckleball from 56 giving the Raiders good field position which they turned into an 11 play drive to get a short FG. The FG almost looked like it got hit from a massive blast of wind knocking it way off-course to the right. Blame it on the wet field, the wind, short cleats, or karma/luck - it was a bad break for the Broncos. Converserly, the Raiders get and interception where the receiver and the passer were not on the same page with 17 seconds left in the half, then get into position for a 63 yd FG by virtue of a facemack penalty (not McBean on this facemask penalty). Was there some luck involved? of course. Our QB inexplicably drops the ball and it's recovered by the Raiders. Their QB fumbles and they recover. More bad luck for us.
I thought I would get my two cents in. There was some improvements (42 point improvement relative to last year), but a loss is still a loss. The Broncos failed to establish true homefield advantage, although the crowd helped much more last night than at any point in 2010. The Broncos lost at home in front of a national audience to our most hated rival while being dominated on both lines. The story line is pretty much the same as 2010 - didn't stop the run, didn't convert in the red zone, couldn't run the ball and get physically pushed around for the most part. Any silver lining that exists from this loss is that much harder to see because of the previous two sentences and the uncertainty surrounding the injured players from last night (this morning for me).