Bitter cold, bitter loss

The Broncos chances of making the playoffs took a dive to match the temperature in Sunday night's game as the Oakland Raiders beat Denver 25-24. The Broncos' defense was no match for Oakland quarterback Kerry Collins and a blocked field goal at the end sealed their fate as Denver fell a game behind the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West.

Winter blunderland - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Monday, November 29, 2004 - The Broncos' AFC West Division showdown in San Diego was ruined on a snowy Denver night. The Broncos collapsed late against Oakland as the Raiders scored two late touchdowns to beat the Broncos 25-24 on Sunday night at Invesco Field at Mile High. Oakland's Langston Walker blocked Jason Elam's 43-yard field-goal attempt with 31 seconds left to preserve the victory for Oakland.

Big Al manages one more Denver thrill - Denver Post - Jim Armstrong
Monday, November 29, 2004 - It's utterly lacking in charm, character and an upper deck that registers on the Richter scale with one tap of the foot, but give Invesco Field one thing: It isn't Mile High Stadium. Don't know about you, but I hated the old dump. The only day of the year I miss it is when the Raiders are in town. Back in the day, Al Davis would sit with the unwashed masses in the press box and let fly with four-letter word after four-letter word. And then they'd kick off and he'd really unload.

Denver Frauds feeling late heat - Denver Post - Mark Kiszla
Monday, November 29, 2004 - One fine day in February, when two other NFL teams are playing in the Super Bowl, the Broncos will look back on this loss in anger. Read between the lines of Denver's 25-24 loss to Oakland and the message is clear. The Broncos are frauds. Oh, they might still make the playoffs, but they aren't going anywhere. And should Denver lose in San Diego next weekend, the Broncos will have to go begging for so much as an invitation to the AFC postseason tournament. When it counted most, cornerback Champ Bailey was a $60 million waste. When Denver desperately needed a rally in the final minute, quarterback Jake Plummer could not deliver. When the Broncos had the Raiders on the ropes, coach Mike Shanahan allowed the team he hates the most play him for a fool.

Walls adds to injury dossier with another shoulder woe - Denver Post
Monday, November 29, 2004 - Lenny Walls said recently if he dislocated his right shoulder a third time this season, it probably would mean he'd be out for the season and need surgery. Initial indications are that Walls suffered a right shoulder dislocation in the second quarter Sunday night. He did not return. Walls said after the game the team asked him not to comment on his injury until more is known. He is expected to be examined further this morning.

Raiders' plan to go to Porter burns Broncos - Denver Post - Joseph Sanchez
Monday, November 29, 2004 - Going into the game, Oakland Raiders coach Norv Turner had two things in mind for his offense: Go to Jerry Porter and go deep. It mattered not that Porter would be going against Champ Bailey, the Broncos star cornerback. Nor did it matter that Porter and quarterback Kerry Collins had hooked up for only one touchdown pass in 10 previous games. The Raiders knew they had a cornerback's worst enemy on their side - a field of snow.

Defense melts down - Denver Post - Patrick Saunders
Monday, November 29, 2004 - On a late November night, with the snow swirling and a wind chill dipping to 5 degrees in the fourth quarter, "meltdown" might seem an odd phrase to describe what happened to the Broncos' defense Sunday night. But melt down is exactly what the defense did in a heart-wrenching 25-24 loss to the hated Oakland Raiders. "Busted coverages, that's what it was," Denver defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said. "They made big plays, so you have to give them credit. But we had busted coverages and that all comes back to the coach."

Double thump far from music to Elam's ears - Denver Post - Irv Moss
Monday, November 29, 2004 - The sound told Broncos kicker Jason Elam what he didn't want to see. "That double thump always is a bad sound," Elam said. "I didn't see it, but I could hear it. It's always a bad sound." The first thump Elam heard was his right foot slamming into the football on a 43-yard field goal attempt Sunday night with 31 seconds left against the Oakland Raiders at Invesco Field at Mile High. The second thump was the right hand of Oakland's Langston Walker blocking the kick that secured the Raiders' 25-24 victory.

Workers fight losing battle - Denver Post - Bill Williamson
Monday, November 29, 2004 - The attempt to deal with the snow at Invesco Field at Mile High began Friday night when a tarp was put over the field. At 5 a.m. Sunday, 250 workers began shoveling the field, and 10 snowplows were used on the field and in the parking lot. "Once it started falling, it was all hands on deck," said Mac Freeman, vice president of stadium operations. It snowed about 4 inches Sunday before the game and was expected to snow 1 to 3 more inches throughout the game. It was the first time snow fell at Invesco Field during a game since Nov. 24, 2002, when the Broncos lost to the Indianapolis Colts.

Broncos beaten by sleet of hand - Rocky Mountain News - Jeff Legwold
November 29, 2004 - In the end, it was the Oakland Raiders and a snowstorm that roared in from the high country and rained all over the Denver Broncos' playoff parade. In the first real battle of the elements this season, the Broncos lost their grip on the AFC West lead, leaving a pile of lost opportunities in their wake in a 25-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders at Invesco Field at Mile High. "That's the National Football League for you," said Broncos defensive tackle Ellis Johnson, who returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown. "There are no sisters of the poor. These are professional teams, everybody that you play every week, and you've got to come to play every week in order to win. We had every opportunity in the world to win this game, we just found a way not to win it." The loss dropped the Broncos to 7-4 and puts them behind the San Diego Chargers (8-3) in the West. The Chargers, who will host the Broncos on Sunday, took the division lead by virtue of a 34-31 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium earlier in the day.

Orange, white a bad combination - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
November 29, 2004 - As losses go, this was another orange crush. Playing in a tight Sunday night game for the second time in three seasons wearing their alternate jerseys, the Denver Broncos watched the bottom fall out in the closing seconds. Indianapolis did it last, Nov. 24, 2002, with late Mike Vanderjagt field goals through the snowflakes against an orange-clad Denver team. Oakland's Langston Walker followed it up this time in frigid conditions by clubbing down Jason Elam's potential winning 43-yard attempt in the final seconds, capping a game in which Denver (7-4) blew an 11-point, fourth-quarter advantage in a 25-24 loss.

Collins' arm made snow a no-show - Rocky Mountain News - Brad Byler
November 29, 2004 - In case you own a black-and-white television set, it was snowing at Invesco Field on Sunday night, when the Oakland Raiders played the Denver Broncos. But you hardly could tell the way Kerry Collins played. The Raiders quarterback delivered perhaps his best performance since coming to the Raiders in the off-season in guiding Oakland to a come-from-behind 25-24 victory.

Bailey no Champ in his matchup against Porter - Rocky Mountain News - Pat Rooney
November 29, 2004 - For the most part, the acquisition of Champ Bailey has been a resounding success for the Denver Broncos. Acquired in a controversial off-season trade with the Washington Redskins that shipped 1,500-yard rusher Clinton Portis out of Denver, Bailey has provided lockdown coverage on the opposition's best receivers on a weekly basis. Bailey also entered Sunday night's showdown with division rival Oakland with three interceptions in 10 games, equaling the team-leading total turned in by cornerback Kelly Herndon last season. But Bailey didn't have one of his more memorable games against the Raiders, twice getting beat by Oakland receiver Jerry Porter for touchdowns. Those plays, combined with a late touchdown catch by Porter, were key reasons why the Broncos stumbled to a 25-24 loss.

Wilson sidesteps his big play - Rocky Mountain News - Pat Rooney
November 29, 2004 - It was the type of game linebackers are supposed to love. Snow obliterating the yard lines and hash marks. Breath clouds pluming out of face masks. Running backs tiptoeing uncertainly on the slick surface. Broncos linebacker Al Wilson tried to serve notice early that Sunday night's divisional battle against the Oakland Raiders would be a defensive slugfest. But the match degenerated with the weather, as Oakland's big plays ruined what began as a solid defensive effort for the Broncos in a 25-24 loss.

'California boys' better at weathering Denver storm - Rocky Mountain News - Lee Rasizer
November 29, 2004 - Al Wilson wasn't about to use the frigid conditions as an excuse Sunday night, especially with the Raiders in town. "They're some California boys," Wilson barked into the microphone he was wearing as part of the national broadcast of the Denver-Oakland game. And this was Colorado weather, the kind many outside of the state associate with these parts full time during this time of year. But this actually was extreme when compared with the monthly average temperature in December: 46 high; 17 low. The game-time temperature of 18 degrees tied for the second-lowest on record for a Denver home game. Even rarer yet is the Broncos winning in such conditions.

Blunder in the blizzard - Daily Camera - Zak Brown
November 29, 2004 - San Diego never seemed like a nicer place for the Denver Broncos to be than at the end of Sunday night's game. Sure, there was a wind chill of five degrees and snow still falling in a game that lasted more than four hours at Invesco Field. But the biggest reason the Broncos are looking forward to San Diego is because it's where they'll have their next chance to redeem themselves. They let Sunday night's game and the lead of the AFC West Division slip away by losing 25-24 to the rival Oakland Raiders in a stunning collapse. The Broncos led by 11 points midway through the fourth quarter, only to allow the Raiders to score 12 unanswered points and block a last-minute field goal attempt that would have won the game.

Bronco kicking game not so special in clutch - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
November 29, 2004 - Bad snap, bad hold, but Jason Elam's 32-yard field goal in the second quarter was good. It gave Denver a 3-0 advantage on the scoreboard and an early execution advantage in the place-kicking matchup during Sunday night's game against Oakland on a blanket of snow at Invesco Field. Unfortunately for the Broncos, it was bad snap, bad hold and a blocked field goal by Langston Walker in the final seconds that sealed the Raiders' 25-24 victory over their AFC West rivals.

Thorburn: Weather no excuse for loss - Daily Camera - Ryan Thorburn
November 29, 2004 - For Gary Barnett and the Buffs, 7-4 is a great accomplishment and a wonderful story. Getting there at Nebraska's expense makes it even sweeter. For Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos, 7-4 is underachieving and a familiar story. Getting there after a stunning 25-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders makes it even more bitter. The bad news for the Broncos is Sunday night's loss at a snowy Invesco Field drops them a game behind the Chargers — who handled business at Kansas City earlier in the day — in the race for the AFC West. The good news is Shanahan's squad gets to play in San Diego six days from now. If Denver wins next week it will be tied for the division lead again with ownership of the tiebreaker over the Chargers, 23-13 losers here on a sunny September Sunday.

Droughns hits 100, but it's not enough - Daily Camera - Zak Brown
November 29, 2004 - The last time Reuben Droughns ran for more than 100 yards against the Oakland Raiders, he was the Cinderella story of the NFL. On Sunday night when he did it again, it was part of a nightmare game for the Broncos. Droughns ran for more than 100 yards for the sixth time in seven games as the starter, with 102 yards and a touchdown, but it didn't seem to matter this time as the Raiders were able to win 25-24.

Raiders win a wild one in Denver - San Francisco Chronicle - Nancy Gay
Monday, November 29, 2004 - The taunts, the disrespect, the loss of faith from an embittered silver and black fan base, etc. The Raiders had heard it all in a second consecutive losing season. But for three glorious quarters Sunday night in snowy, frigid Denver, the AFC West's worst team had the division's smug co-leaders in a bind, and behind on the scoreboard. A three-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, built on two pinpoint Kerry Collins TD passes to wide receiver Jerry Porter, seemed to secure momentum on the side of the once hapless visitors at Invesco Field. But this would be no walkover. Two Denver touchdowns in a dizzying one-minute span at the start of the fourth quarter -- a 3-yard Reuben Droughns scoring run followed by a tipped Collins' pass and a 33-yard interception return into the end zone by 288-pound defensive tackle Ellis Johnson -- put the Broncos solidly in front again. Only this time, the Raiders -- for the first time all season -- called upon their dormant talent and thawed their frozen hearts.

Broncos-Raiders Notebook: Snow Job in the Mile High City - - Andrew Mason
Sunday, November 28, 2004 - With the exception of the opposing team, the environment for the Broncos' Week 12 game represented a precise replication of a night from two years ago. The last time the Broncos wore their alternate orange jerseys, the Broncos faced the Colts on a snowy Sunday night for a game that was broadcast nationally by ESPN. Two years and four days later, ESPN's cameras were back, and so too was the snow to go along with the orange, for the Broncos' first snow game since. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the result was the same as it was for that game against the Indianapolis Colts -- a bitter defeat that climaxed on a kick into the snow. Where Mike Vanderjagt made his kick for the Colts, Jason Elam had his 43-yard attempt blocked by Oakland's Langston Walker, sealing the defeat. But the Broncos felt that the conditions didn't make a difference.

Unfinished Business - - James Merilatt
Sunday, November 28, 2004 - Is it the snow? Is it playing under the lights? Is it the orange jerseys? Whatever the reason, the Denver Broncos are continuing to provide national television audiences with great theatre, while coming up on the short end at the conclusion of the gridiron dramas. In a game that was eerily reminiscent of defeats suffered two years ago at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins, the Broncos lost a heartbreaker on Sunday night, falling 25-24 to the Oakland Raiders. It was a gut-wrenching defeat, one that drops Denver a game back of the San Diego Chargers in the chase for the AFC West. The result was painful for a number of reasons. Losing to their archrivals is always a bitter pill to swallow. Dropping a game at home to a 3-7 team and falling out of first place puts the Broncos in what nearly amounts to a "must-win" situation next week at San Diego. And battling freezing temperatures and driving snowstorm for three hours only to come up one point short is downright brutal.

Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders -
Sunday, November 28, 2004 - Before the start of Denver's Sunday night game against Oakland Head Coach Mike Shanahan declared the following players inactive: Chris Young, Cecil Sapp, Jeff Shoate, Jashon Sykes, Cornell Green, Darius Holland, Trevor Pryce and Luther Elliss. The game began with snow on the field and it fell throughout the game. The temperature at kickoff was 17 degrees and the wind chill made it feel like it was 7 degrees. The Raiders won the coin toss and received the opening kickoff.

Double Tap a Death Knell for Broncos - - Andrew Mason
Monday, November 29, 2004 - The dreaded double-click of an iron against a golf ball hit out of the rough doomed the since-forgotten T.C. Chen's chances to win the U.S. Open 19 years ago. The equally lamentable double-thump of a football against a foot and then an arm was the death knell for the Broncos' bid at a last-drive, last-minute comeback victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night, when Jason Elam's 43-yard field-goal attempt smacked straight off his foot into the arm of Oakland's Langston Walker with less than 30 seconds remaining. "I didn't see the block but I could hear it," Elam said. "That double-thump is always a bad sound."

Johnson's Jaunt Not Enough for Defense - - Andrew Mason
Monday, November 29, 2004 - As Ellis Johnson began his 32-yard, fourth-quarter ramble for the goal line, there was only one thought in his mind as he held the third interception of his career in his sizable hands. "Score," he said. That he did, and for a moment, he put the Broncos in front by 11 points. Johnson was in the perfect spot to grab the pass that fellow defensive tackle Monsanto Pope deflected, and after he worked his way out of a wave of potential tacklers, he scored easily. "That was really nice. Three interceptions, one touchdown," Johnson said. "I was like, 'Just get to the end zone. Get to the end zone.'" He did, but by night's end, the score was meaningless.

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