The takeaway from this game? There can be no forgiving a performance like the one the Denver Broncos put on at Mile High Stadium. Mike Shanahan deserved better. We deserved better.
It was alumni week. The greatest coach in franchise history was being honored. It was a game against the most hated rival in team history. What happened? The Broncos imploded.
When Ian St. Clair and I recorded the post game recap we were both heated. There is no greater sin in Broncos Country than losing to the Raiders. It wasn’t like the game was out of hand right away. The Broncos answered the Raiders TD drive on the first drive of the game.
Breaking their 24 game streak of not scoring a TD on their first offensive drive of the game, Denver drove down and scored. Tim Patrick caught a pass from Teddy Bridgewater, and scampered into the end zone for a 23-yard score to tie the game at 7-7. It was the last time the Broncos seemed like they were in the game.
The defense held the Raiders to a field goal on their next possession. Then Bridgewater threw his first INT of the game. It lead to a missed FG by Las Vegas, and a glimmer of hope. The glimmer disappeared 3 plays and a punt later.
The Broncos and Raiders exchanged punts for the next 5 possessions. Las Vegas got the ball with 1:01 left in the half. It took 5 plays and 31 seconds for them to score. Derek Carr hit Waller for 33 yards, which set up a 31 yard TD pass to Kenyan Drake. The two teams entered the locker room at half time with the Raiders up 17-7.
Denver would get the ball to start the second half. A TD would have been a big momentum builder. Instead, 3 plays and a punt put the ball back in the Raiders possession. They needed just 4 plays to score their 3rd TD of the game, and put the game well out of reach.
The Broncos answered with a FG, which was not enough. After the defense forced a 3 and out, Bridgewater fumbled. The Raiders capitalized, scoring a TD to make it 31-10. If the game wasn’t officially over, it was close enough.
The next drive for the Broncos was capped with a Courtland Sutton TD. Vegas answered with a FG, and then Noah Fant scored a TD. It was too little, too late for Denver. The final, 34-24, looked a lot closer than the game felt.
The game was marked by turnovers, and poor play calling. Fangio made panicky challenges on obvious calls, costing precious timeouts, and valuable challenges for later in the game. The players seemed disinterested, and at times, outmatched.
Fant committed multiple drive killing penalties. Sutton had bad drops. The O-line and D-line were manhandled by their Vegas counterparts. Teddy looked shook. Finding positives in the Broncos loss to the Raiders is difficult.
I guess, at least Brandon McManus was perfect on the day.