Loss wipes out progress for Broncos

The Denver Broncos were stunned and devastated after losing a fourth-quarter lead to Chicago, and the hangover seemed to last into their loss against Oakland.

The Broncos seemed flat against the Raiders, who put a severe dent in Denver's playoff chances with a 34-20 win.

"You lose a game and by Monday you want it to be over and done with, but that type of game might linger around a little bit," receiver Brandon Marshall said. "It should. It's football and you put a lot into this game and you put a lot into our game plan, and it hurts when we lose those types of games. That game probably lingered around one or two days."

The Broncos hadn't lost at Oakland since 2002 and no AFC West team had lost at Oakland since 2003. But Denver was ooutmatched from the start, when it gave up an 80-yard touchdown drive on the Raiders' first possession.

Denver's progress on run defense after a horrendous start this season was wiped away. Oakland's Justin Fargas had 146 yards and a touchdown. The score ruined Denver's chances of a comeback victory.

"Credit them for sticking it down our throats," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said.

The Broncos didn't do much on offense either. They gained 115 yards in the first half against Oakland, 83 of which came on the first drive.

Most troubling were Denver's turnovers. Jay Cutler, who had played well for a few weeks, threw two bad interceptions. On one he threw right at linebacker Thomas Howard. On his second one, the Broncos trailed by only seven points in the fourth quarter. Raiders cornerback Fabian Washington had Marshall blanketed but Cutler threw anyway, and Washington made a diving interception.

The Broncos had four turnovers. Oakland scored 24 points off those turnovers.

"That's why we lost the game," Cutler said. "You can't win like that."

Denver's running game regressed too. Selvin Young left the game with an arm injury. Travis Henry, who had been out three games with a knee injury, wasn't supposed to play much but he got a bulk of the work. He couldn't make all of his cuts and had two costly fumbles. He was stripped on one, and he and Cutler didn't connect on a handoff on the other. Henry said his timing with Cutler was off because of his time off.

"We didn't play good and I didn't play good," Henry said.

The Broncos already felt their backs were against the wall before the loss to Oakland. Now the Broncos are two games behind San Diego in the AFC West. Denver has a favorable schedule remaining, but it won't be easy to rebound from two straight losses. Their next game is at home against Kansas City.

Shanahan was glum when asked about his team still being alive in the AFC playoff race.

"I'm sure mathematically we are," Shanahan said. "But we're going to have to play much better if we're going to be in the mix than we did today."

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Selvin Young hurt his upper arm against Oakland. The Broncos said it was only bruised but he had a large ice wrap on his arm after the game and couldn't go for most of the second half.

--WR Brandon Stokley led the Broncos with 102 yards against Oakland. He has had a solid year for the Broncos, one year after rupturing his Achilles' tendon.

--WR Javon Walker had one catch for seven yards against the Raiders. Walker hasn't played much since coming back from knee surgery.

--LB D.J. Williams had 16 tackles against the Raiders. Williams has had a solid season, and has shown signs of progress playing middle linebacker for the first time.

--WR Glenn Martinez was inactive Sunday. Martinez had an ankle injury. He was replaced by Dre Bly on punt returns.



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