The Oakland Raiders keep their playoff chances alive for yet another week behind a 264 yard effort on the ground, as well as spoiling the debut of rookie quarterback Tim Tebow, as they defeat the Denver Broncos 39-23.
The Raiders started the game off on a high note with a 71-yard end around to wide receiver Jacoby Ford giving the Raiders an early 7-0 lead. Then just like that, the Raiders turn the ball over two times in a row, setting up two scores courtesy of Mr. Heisman Trophy.
The first was a QB Draw play for Tebow, in which he took it to the house for a 40-yard touchdown run. The second score came when Tebow found wide receiver Brandon Lloyd in the corner of the end zone for 33 yards. Lloyd was initially ruled out of bounds, but after the play was reviewed, it was overturned. This play reminded me of a scene straight out of a Madden game, in which you wanted to throw your controller on the ground and scream unpleasant curse words. On the replay, not only do you see the ball go through Stanford Routt’s hands, it then ricochets off of safety Michael Huff into the hands of Lloyd. I digress, as the Raiders were down early 14-7.
On their next drive the Raiders went with a heavy starch and carb diet of the running game. Running back Darren McFadden would start off the drive with some great runs, including a 36-yard scamper down to the two-yard line. For the game, Run DMC would rush for a 119 yards, as well as become the first Raider to go over a 1,000 yards rushing in a season since Justin Fargas (2007). Fellow running back Michael Bush would end the drive with a two yard touchdown run to tie the game up 14-14 after one quarter of play.
Tebow would lead the Broncos to another field goal, and would appear to have the Broncos in front going into halftime, but the Raiders were able to get one of those turnovers back right before the quarter came to an end. With Raiders’ punter Shane Lechler being injured late in the first half, kicker Sebastian Janikowski had to stand in and punt for the first time in his career. He got off a solid punt which was muffed by Syd’Quan Thompson, and recovered by Hiram Eugene. The end result of that was was a 49-yard field goal by Janikowski right before the half ended, as the Raiders drew even 17-17 going into halftime.
After receiving a tongue lashing at halftime by Coach Cable, the Raiders were waiting for the right time to create some separation. In the third quarter, Janikoswki would kick his 2nd and 3rd field goals of the game, as Denver would only kick one, giving the Raiders a 23-20 lead heading into the 4th quarter.
Early in the 4th, the Raiders got all the separation they needed, as quarterback Jason Campbell found fullback Marcel Reece wide open for a short pass in the flats. 73 yards later, Reece was in the end zone jumping into Raider Nation at the Black Hole, as the Raiders took a 30-20 lead at this point. For the game, Campbell threw for 238 yards and a touchdown.
The Raiders would tack on 9 more points of insurance. The first being a safety, which was caused by linebacker Quentin Groves, as he tackled Broncos running back Correll Buckhalter in the end zone. The other coming on another short Bush touchdown run, giving him two for the day. That run was set-up by a 4th down conversion from Campbell to tight end Zach Miller. Coach Cable initially wanted to kick a field goal, but wanted to put this game away for good, so he went for it, and that simply became the nail in the coffin. The Raiders defense, for the most part took care of a Broncos offense clearly on the down spiral, holding Tebow to only 138 yards passing, as well as only allowing a combined total of 106 rushing yards.
This game should serve as the table setter for the next two games. With Indianapolis coming to the Black Hole next week, and with playoff implications on the line for both teams, it should be an exciting ball game. Do the Raiders have what it takes to get a big win against a quality team? At this point, they have no choice. Let’s see what Cable & Co. can pull out of their hat come next Sunday. This should be interesting!
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Written by Arthur Kai