The Raiders (3-9) committed 11 penalties for 89 yards but the timing of those infractions were everything on a rainy day in Oakland.
Denver (7-5) scored three touchdowns but two of those drives were kept afloat on third and fourth down infractions. The Raiders most recent penalty flurry prompted Callahan to call his squad “the dumbest team in America.”
The Raiders much-maligned special teams made the game’s first big play midway through the first quarter. Tight end O.J. Santiago came free up the middle to block a Micah Knorr punt out of the end zone to give Oakland a 2-0 lead at the 7:49 mark of the first quarter.
Oakland widened the lead to 5-0 with 4:36 left in the opening period on a 46-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal. The key play in the drive was Rick Mirer’s 22-yard completion to wide receiver Tim Brown.
The Broncos took a 7-5 lead at the 11:00 mark of the second quarter. Jake Plummer rolled left on a play action fake and hit a wide-open Shannon Sharpe for a 4-yard touchdown. That scored capped a 13-play, 65-yard march. Oakland linebacker Eric Barton appeared to stop Plummer shy of a first down at the Oakland 24 but was flagged for a personal foul.
Oakland then went on top 8-7 at the 9:03 mark of the second period on a 48-yard Janikowski field goal. That scored was set up by Tyrone Wheatley’s 41-yard run.
The Broncos regained the lead at the 4:24 mark of the second quarter when Clinton Portis scored easily on a 1-yard run to put Denver in front 14-8. Oakland’s defense had forced the Broncos into a punting situation but Santiago jumped offsides on fourth-and-four. That scenario gave Denver a first down at the Raiders 49 yard-line.
The Broncos put the game out of reach with 3:15 left in the game when Portis scored on a 2-yard run up the middle. Portis added the two-point conversion to put Denver up 22-8. That drive was set up when Mirer connected with Jerry Porter for an apparent first down but he fumbled and Jimmy Spencer recovered at the Denver 32. Oakland cornerback Phillip Buchanon intercepted a Plummer pass at the Raider 2 to halt a Bronco drive earlier in the period.
Vince D’Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org