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Games like today challenge your fandom. They challenge mine as well. The Broncos got beat, no, blown out by a hated rival, an Oakland Raider team that is as low as low can be. On the surface the defense will get killed, and much of it is deserved. The injuries are starting to take their toll, and the Raiders made some plays. What we have learned in 2008 about this Broncos team is simple -- they simply aren't good enough on defense to make up for mistakes on offense.
We have talked all year about the team being built around Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and the offense. They need to make big plays and protect the football. When they have, the Broncos have won. When they haven't, well, you have games like today. The Broncos held the Raiders to a 3-and-out on their first possession and took the ball all the way down the field. What happens next has happened in other games this year. Games in Kansas City and against Jacksonville. The Broncos fumbled the football. Red Zone turnovers will kill you. A mis-direction play, the Broncos got a bit cute on a run call to Peyton Hillis and he and Cutler couldn't complete the QB/RB exchange.
Some might say that a play like that is ok because it leaves the Raiders in bad field position. It isn't a good thing. Turning the ball over in the red zone is never a good thing. It turned out to be a sign of things to come. There is plenty of blame to lay everywhere -- questionable play calling during most of the 2nd quarter, a special team's TD allowed, a close second to red zone turnovers in terms of being an absolute no-no, and of course, the Matt Prater misses. They were longer field goals, yes, but in a game like today's, when the game is close, each mistake you make is a confidence boost to the opponent.
The Broncos gave the Raiders all sorts of confidence today and the Raiders went out and won the football game, plain and simple.
It's too early to think about next week, and at this point, who really wants to. Again this year, the Broncos will have all off-season to live with what happened against Oakland, and a bitter taste it is. The Broncos need to regroup and think about what they want the rest of this year to be. The Chargers have the opportunity to gain a game tonight against the Colts, so much of what happens the rest of this year likely depends on that result.
Talk about the game here, and MHR Radio Post Game is coming up at 7:30.