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Broncos Melt under the Coliseum Lights, Lose 30-20 to Rival Oakland Raiders

The Raiders tested the Broncos' manhood to the tune of over 200 rushing yards.

Foreword: If you're reading this, I admire you for having an even enough temper not to leave a fist-sized hole in the television and storm off to bed. Because the Lord knows if I didn't have to write this recap, that may have been my evening.

The Denver Broncos lacked the eye of the tiger on this night. There's really no way around it. You could see fairly easily in pre-game warm ups that Trevor Siemian looked pensive, uneasy as he tossed a tight spiral back to his partner.

Derek Carr, on the other hand, looked steely-eyed, resolved with a raucous home crowd behind him. He was loose as he led his team onto the field underneath the bright lights of Sunday Night Football, a stage the Oakland Raiders hadn't enjoyed in a decade.

The opening of the game reflected that prologue, as the offense went three-and-out in the blink of an eye. That, combined with a lackluster punt from Riley Dixon set up the Raiders offense with a very short field. That was the story for most of the first quarter. Carr peppered in passes to Amari Cooper, a tipped-but-caught pass to Jalen Richard, and a third-down conversion to Andre Holmes. The defense was truly bending, but they didn't break, at least yet. Field goals of 24 and 29 yards by Sebastian Janikowski bogged down Denver as the ineffective offense repeated three-and-outs.

Eventually, the pressure on the defense was such that the levee broke and the Raiders rode Latavius Murray into the end zone for the first of his three touchdowns.

Staring a blowout on national television right in the face, Siemian and the rest of the offense bucked up and moved the ball down the field with a 23-yard jump ball to Demaryius Thomas. Some life.

Then, in a staple of the perhaps-outdated Kubiak offense, Siemian booted right, and with a defender in his face, tossed a beautiful 36-yard touchdown to a backpedaling Jordan Norwood. Norwood may have saved his spot on the offense between that touchdown and a 21-yard reception later in the game.

The offense was afforded another chance to get back into the thick of things when, down 13-7, Janikowsi pushed a 48-yard field goal to the right. Alas, a third-down throw went through the arms of Thomas and nothing came of the opportunity.

While this was all going down, Oakland shifted their plans on offense. Del Rio diagnosed the weakness on the Broncos front and tacked a sixth offensive lineman onto the end of the line and started pounding Murray, Richard, and DeAndre Washington right into the heart of the defense. Jared Crick had no response, the linebackers were slow to react, and the Raiders kept ripping off chunks of yards on the ground.

In the second quarter alone, Oakland busted out with a 28-yard sprint from a speedy Richard and another 42-yard dash by Murray on third-and-one when he bounced the carry to the right and found himself all alone outside the hashes. Little discipline, little contain, and little success plugging holes in the run game.

The second run sprung Oakland down into the redzone, where, again, the Raiders simply pushed up against the Denver defensive line and let Murray crash in from a yard out. A demoralizing effort.

Denver made something happen at the end of the first half when Siemian got in a small groove and hit Virgil Green for 11, Thomas for 13, and just couldn't connect on a deep shot to Emmanuel Sanders on a play in which you almost expect 10 to make the circus catch. Brandon McManus shrugged off an icing attempt and drilled consecutive 55-yard tries to make it 20-10 at half.

And then: repeat. The second half was a mess. The problems the Broncos had on defense were exacerbated almost tenfold as the Raiders barely needed to throw the football with their lightning run game, and the Broncos were getting killed in the field position battle. 

The coaching staff neglected to challenge a faulty punt cover by the Raiders, which set the offense up at, yes, their own two. Somehow, someway, Siemian worked them out of trouble with a 27-yard pass interference call and a 30-yard completion to Green enabled McManus to drill a kick from 44 yards away.

Didn't matter. Oakland responded with another Janikowski field goal. The Broncos couldn't muster up the fight in them to come back.

A bad, perhaps controversial sequence buried Denver. Siemian lost a fumble and after the referees reversed their call and awarded Oakland the recovery. Things avalanched horrendously when the T.J. Ward dove for an apparent pick, but trapped the ball upon further examination.

Two defensive pass interference calls and a defensive holding later, and Murray blasted in for his third one-yard touchdown of the night. This series tested the sanity of all orange onlookers. A nightmarish onslaught of yellow flags ended Denver's hopes.

One last thing on the way down. Kapri Bibbs exhibited an outstanding effort and took a simple screen pass 69 yards for his first NFL touchdown, hurdling Max Garcia and cutting on dimes on the way to the end zone. C.J. Anderson's career was kick-started on an incredible touchdown in the Black Hole, as well. Let's hope Denver gets another special back in Bibbs.

The Broncos were finally put out of their misery when Reggie Nelson picked off an overthrow by Siemian on fourth down with two minutes to go. Curtains.

Denver, for the first time in recent memory, has conceded control of the AFC West. Giving up 288 yards on the ground and only running for 33 will do that. Lots has to change, and we'll explore that this week in detail.

I'll leave you with this; tonight's game was Oakland's Super Bowl. Denver's Super Bowl is the Super Bowl. There's still seven weeks to go. 

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Will Keys is an Editor for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.

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