The Oakland Raiders kept their slim playoffs hopes alive on Sunday beating the Denver Broncos 39-23.
The Raiders got off to a good start in their first series of the game when Jacoby Ford ran for a 71-yard touchdown to give them a 7-0 lead. Tim Tebow, making his first career start, responded with a 40-yard run right through the Oakland defense. Tebow looked impressive as the former Heisman winner from Florida dodged defenders and broke tackles. Two minutes later, after the Broncos recovered a fumble, Tebow found Brandon Lloyd for a 33-yard touchdown that gave the Broncos a 14-7 lead. The play was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but Denver challenged the call and after review, it was reversed.
The Raiders responded quickly on their next possession, as they marched 69 yards down the field to tie the game at 14-14, on a Michael Bush 1-yard touchdown run.
The two teams then exchanged field goals and entered halftime at 17-17.
The Raiders committed 3 turnovers in the first half and head coach, Tom Cable, was none too pleased. He laid into his team, who needs to win out in order to have any chance of making their first postseason appearance since 2002.
The third quarter was rather anti-climactic as the two teams exchanged field goals. The Broncos, Lance Ball, dropped a 24-yard pass in the end zone, which forced Denver to kick the field goal. Then the Raiders took the lead, 23-20, on Sebastian Janikowski’s 47-yeard field goal with 5:03 left in the third quarter. Oakland never looked back as they entered the fourth quarter with a 3-point lead.
Jason Campbell, who completed 15 of 26 attempts, ended with 238 yards passing. His only touchdown pass was to Marcel Reece, who caught the ball and ran 73 yards to give the Raiders a 30-20 lead. Denver responded with a 45-yard field goal to pull within seven points.
On the very next series, Shane Lechler pinned the Broncos on their own 6-yard line with a fantastic punt. Two plays later, the Raiders defense stepped up and tackled Correll Buckhalter in the end zone for a safety to put them ahead 32-23.
Oakland then proceeded 52 yards on 8 plays, highlighted by a 21-yard gain on a short pass to Darren McFadden. Michael Bush then scored on his second 1-yard rushing touchdown of the game, to give the Raiders a 39-23 win. McFadden scampered for 119 yards rushing to top the 100-yard mark for the 6th time this season.
Oakland (7-7) now trails Kansas City (9-5) by 2 games, and will need to win both games for any chance at making the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the San Diego Chargers (8-6) seem to have the easier road as their remaining schedule is against a pair of 3-game winners, Cincinnati and Denver. The Kansas City Chiefs play the Tennessee Titans next week at home, where the Chiefs are undefeated this year. The Raiders final game of the regular season is against Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. But before that happens, the Raiders must find a way to beat Indianapolis next week and hope for some help from Cincinnati and Tennessee.
It’s going to be a tough road the rest of the way for the Raiders but they are still alive, and as long as there is still a chance, they will keep fighting.
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Written by Mike Cid