Strap it on, grab a cold one and get ready to roll - here come the game notes. Be sure to refresh you browser for all the latest madness….
You gotta love the Raiders - despite how bad the franchise has been driven into the ground by owner Al Davis - they still come out fighting. Attacking the ground game Oakland moves into Broncos territory.
Broncos get flagged for roughing the kicker on fourth and three at the 47 and the drive continues. Raiders are mixing it up with short passes and an effective running game - a perfectly lethal combination against a weak Broncos defense.
Out of the shotgun Josh McKown hits Tim Dwight in the corner of the end zone and it's an early 7-0 lead in the Black Hole. Denver's defense looks shell shocked - first drive of the game and already they find themselves trying to crawl out of a hole.
Cutler and Co. take the field and proceed to stumble. Third down desparation and Cutler finds Brandon Marshall - beautiful spin move breaks it out for the first and Denver continues the drive. Running game is coming together - between Travis Henry and Selvin Young they're gaining ground and are now inside the Oakland twenty. Cutler to Marshall across the middle moves it to the seven. Denver grabs a time out with Young on the field injured - this could be bad - looks like it's a knee. Back to back on the ground with Henry and the Broncos tie it at 7-7 as the clock winds down in the first.
Broncos hold tight against the run and the Raiders get stuffed on the second drive of the game - Shane Lechler is set to punt from inside the Oakland twenty yard line. Sixty-three yard punt and Denver takes it inside the thirty.
Three and out in a drive that consumes less than a minute - Todd Sauerbrun boots it from the Denver 28.
The Black Hole welcomes the NFL top draft choice - Jamarcus Russell. Russell responds by llighting it up on his first career pass. Sixteen yard pickup to Joey Porter on the sideline. Another nice pickup with a quick toss to Justin Fargas - Fargas on the ground adds on another 19 yards and the Raiders move it to the Denver 32. Janikowski sets it up for a field goal - wide and short - drive stalls without a score.
Evidentially three and out is the best the Broncos have to offer this quarter. Another short drive and the Broncos fail to take advantage of excellent field position at midfield.
(This is the stage where you start to wonder where the beer cooler is - then realize this is Oakland and you're just lucky you haven't been mugged at this stage of the game).
Russell and the Raiders take it at their own 32-yard line. Quick toss to Curry picks up seven. Fargas on the ground adds another seven and it's a first at the 46. Raiders are completely winning the battle at time of possession. Russell connects with Curry again - this one nets twenty yards and Oakland moves into Denver territory.
Raiders keep it on the ground - down to the Broncos 25-yard line and fourth and one. Handoff to Fargas but the Broncos "D" stuffs it at the line for no gain - Cutler takes over with 3:52 in the half.
Don't look now but it's another opportunity for three and out - Never mind - Broncos fumble on second and one - Travis Henry coughs it up at their own 35. Two plays - less than a minute and the Broncos defense heads back on the field. This is getting sad...
Raiders facing a short field bring back Josh McCown - Five yard toss to Fargas followed up by a nine yard shot to Porter brings it to the two minute warning. McCown moves it down to the Denver 13 - short pass in the middle of the field to Zack Miller and it's an Oakland touchdown with .50 sec. remaining in the half.
Lots of dancing - very little progress. Broncos take it at their own 14 and five plays later have advanced a grand total of twelve yards. First half comes to a close with Oakland on top 14-7.
As poorly as Denver played in the first half it imperative for Cutler to come out and make a statement. The statement comes four plays later on third and thirteen from the 21 when his pass to Javon Walker gets picked. Raiders take over on the Denver 27-yard line and Denver's offense heads to the sideline as their season slowly crumbles.
Raiders respond accordingly - McCown engineers a quick four play drive that results in a 38-yard field goal by Janikowski. Oakland stretches the lead 17-7 with 12:48 in the third.
Janikowski sails a 65-yard kick and Cutler and Co. will start it out on the 14. QB scramble around end picks up maybe one. Travis Henry off left tackle picks up a short four bringing up third and five. Cutler out of the shotgun and it's a botched handoff - ball pops loose and Raiders pounce on it. Three Denver turnovers in the last eleven plays - that's gotta hurt.
It's two and out for Oakland - as McCown finds Joey Porter in the end zone on second and eleven and the Raiders pile on the embarrassment with a 27-7 third quarter lead. Missing the playoffs is one thing but getting a beat down in Oakland is inexcusable.
I wonder how many coaches will be dusting off their resume‘s after this one?
Here we go again - Broncos take it at the 26. Short gain for Travis Henry brings up second and seven. Cutler unloads - 58-yard strike to Brandon Stokley and the Broncos are finally showing some signs of life. Drioves moves it's way down to the twelve before it stalls. Elam to the rescue and we're looking at a 24-10 Oakland lead with just over 7:00 remaining in the third.
Hey, maybe this'll be the break Denver needs - maybe a change of momentum - maybe… Never mind, if I was you I'd be drinking.
McCown's back and the Raiders take it at their own 39. FUMBLE - Oakland recovers. Second and four and Fargas busts it open on a beautiful 29-yard race and it's another short field at the Broncos 26. Two plays later it's fourth down on the 17. Janikowski for the field goal - shanks it wide left and Denver dodges a bullet on this one. Score remains 24-10 - Raiders lead.
Well let's see how this one plays out - if they're going to make a move it needs to be now. Cutler fires it to Stokley - huge pickup moves it to the Oakland 42. Follow that up with a 17-yard strike to Scheffler and I think I'm hallucinating. Back to back on the ground and a QB sack on third and three brings out Denver's favorite son Jason Elam - split's the uprights from 44-yards out and the lead narrows AGAIN - it's 24-13 with 3:03 in the third.
Ok - Raiders turn - Fargas on the ground gets dropped for a loss of one. Another shot and he picks up a three bringing up third and eight. McCown fumbles - ball is recovered by D.J. Williams and things may be taking a turn in Denver's favor. Cutler takes over at the Oakland 35 as the tquarter comes to a close - Raiders still lead it 24-13.
Broncos are on a roll - pounding it out on the ground. Out of the shotgun Cutler finds Stokley for eleven - moves it to the 13. Cutler to Marshall brings it down to the Raiders three where Henry finishes it off for a Denver touchdown. Oakland lead dwindles down to four - 24-20.
Sauerbrun boots it to the 12 where Carr brings it back another 17. Wow - can you believe it - poor special teams play - what a shock. McCown to Zack Miller tacks on another 26 and the Raiders are near midfield. Another shot to Miller moves it to the 26 where Janikowski widens the lead with another field goal. Oakland takes a 27-20 lead with just under nine minutes left in the misery.
So, it's a seven point lead and the Broncos have plenty of time left for the Big Play - time for some optimism.
First and ten and Cutler gets picked for the second time of the afternoon - so much for the optimism - Raiders get another short field - gift wrapped thanks to a Broncos turnover. Play is challenged - play stands as called - stick a fork in it - I wonder if I can beat the traffic and still hold onto my wallet?
It's a wrap - McCown chews up time with a nice 10 play touchdown drive with Fargas carrying it in from five yards out - Oakland's slamming it home with a commanding 34-20 lead with 3:04 remaining.
Fourteen points in three minutes - it's not gonna happen - this one's done. Cutler can't connect with anybody on this drive and a fourth and seven shot to Stokley falls short. I think I'm bleeding internally. Loosing to the Raiders will do that to you.
Blah, blah, blah… same old Broncos story. This was the exclamation point on a disappointing season. Getting smacked down in the Black Hole is almost as embarrassing as my first Prom date - only not as painful.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past ten years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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