When the Denver Broncos took the field against the Oakland Raiders, there didn’t seem much to play for. It would be the first meaningless game in nearly six years. However, with news breaking that Gary Kubiak was likely coaching his final game of his career there seemed to be a little more to play for than just draft position or pride.
Trevor Siemian and the Broncos opened up with an eight-play 84 yard drive that resulted in a touchdown run from Devontae Booker. They only had one third down attempt that was converted by a face-mask penalty.
Broncos 7, Raiders 0.
The Raiders came out intent on running the ball down the Broncos throat. It was a good idea considering that was how they won their first matchup. The problem is, the Broncos defense gets better than second time around and not much was happening on the ground early for Oakland.
Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree got into on that first Raiders drive too, which was kind of funny.
Not to be denied a shot at breaking records for three and outs this season, the Broncos followed up with one on their second drive. Not that it mattered, the Broncos defense was on its A-game in the first quarter. Forcing punts on both Raiders possessions.
The teams split the quarter in time of possession, but the Broncos outgained the Raiders 83-39 in the quarter.
The Broncos next drive was boosted by a 64-yard scamper from Justin Forsett into the Raiders red zone area. However, a third down pass to Thomas was well short of the sticks and the Broncos had to settle for a field goal.
Broncos 10, Raiders 0.
The Raiders continued to try to run the ball down the throat of the Broncos defense, but without much success with 6 carries for 17 yards midway through the second quarter.
It seems with every scoring drive in this game, the Broncos offense comes out and puts out the typical stinker of a series we’ve been used to seeing all season long.
Meanwhile, the Broncos defense almost let the Raiders cross midfield for the first time in this game late in the second quarter, but a face mask penalty and a blown up screen pass by Sylvester Williams setup a third and 29 for the Raiders that would turn into a fourth and 29.
I love seeing Raiders offenses faced with 4th and 29’s.
Siemian and the Broncos offense got the ball rolling on the next drive after a nice pass over the middle to Jordan Taylor just before the two-minute warning to put them into field goal range.
After a holding penalty, Siemian needed to pick up 18 yards on third down. He did it with a short pass to Booker who took it 43 yards and a touchdown.
Broncos 17, Raiders 0.
Connor Cook got his first game action of the year as McGloin was knocked out on the previous Raiders series by the Broncos defense. They would go three and out.
Siemian finished the half 12/17 for 150 yards and that touchdown to Booker.
Kubiak predictably decided to stay with the hot hand in Siemian in the second half, pulling the rug out from under an excited Paxton Lynch in this meaningless game.
It was a good decision as Siemian is clearly playing lights out after four weeks of frustrating production from the quarterback position that bounced this team from playoff contention.
On their first drive of the second half, Siemian threw the Broncos down the field and into the red zone. On a third and five from the eleven yard line, Siemian had his pass to Cody Latimer defended. However, the Raiders were called for pass interference and the Broncos got the ball at the one yard line.
Siemian hit Virgil Green on second down who was wide open in the back of the end zone to put the Broncos up by 24.
Broncos 24, Raiders 0.
The Broncos defense is enjoying the goose egg in this game and immediately forced another three and out from the Raiders offense on their next possession.
Oakland's possessions today:— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) January 1, 2017
A scary situation for Zaire Anderson on the next drive who was injured making a head-first tackle. He could not make any thumbs up movement as he was carted off the field on a stretcher directly to an ambulance.
Zaire Anderson was on the ground for some time before being stretchered off. Here was the hit. pic.twitter.com/AtkXbgJjWU— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) January 1, 2017
Scary situation there.
With the Broncos defense thinking about their teammate, the Raiders made three quick strikes down the field ending in an Amari Cooper touchdown reception. However, the two point conversion failed.
Broncos 24, Raiders 6.
With the Raiders getting some momentum, the Broncos next drive was going to be huge. Siemian, instead, immediately throws it deep into triple coverage for an interception to set the Raiders up with good field position.
The Broncos defense woke up, however, and forced a three and out.
The Raiders opened up their first fourth quarter possession with a turnover on a forced fumble from Von Miller, giving the Broncos solid field position.
Siemian was able to gain eight yards to setup a 48-yard field goal attempt from Brandon McManus. He would miss it.
Twitter was afire with quarterback watches, but it became fairly clear that Kubiak had no intention bringing Lynch into the game with a lead to protect. Siemian was his guy and he is loyal to the very end.
If I'm Paxton Lynch I'm totally ok with what is very obviously happening.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) January 2, 2017
I'll start over with a coach that believes in me next year.
Meanwhile, the drama on the field was quite waning. Neither team was doing much in the fourth quarter until late. The Broncos defense stiffened on their side of the field when Justin Simmons snagged an interception and returned it 45 yards to basically ice the game for Denver.
Siemian finished the second half 5/10 for 56 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Final Score: Broncos 24, Raiders 6.