Nice tribute to the Barrel Man – biggest Broncos Fan there ever was and one heck of a great guy… he will be missed.
Kickoff is set – the Broncos defer (again) and it's time to shake thing up… be sure to refresh often for all the lates madness.
The dawn of the Charlie Frye era in Denver starts off pretty lackluster – three plays, three-yards and Lechler's out to punt. Chances are you'll be reading that a lot this afternoon. Royal takes the kick and the Broncos will start it off at their own 35.
Despite kind of a shaky start the Broncos pull it out on third and twelve and manage a fairly effective drive – unfortunately old habits die hard and once they hit the red zone they just can't seem to punch it in. Still trying to figure out the play calling – QB sneak from the seven was almost a joke… Prater comes to the rescue and nails it from 23 – Broncos take an early 3-0 lead.
As bad as things were for Frye in his first series – they turn worse on his second. Third and three from the 27 and he unloads it deep – straight in the arms of Champ Bailey. Broncos get another shot at the end zone.
Second chance – same results… after a nice 24-yard strike to Marshall and a quick little five for Moreno on the ground they break out a five-yard penalty when Orton hits tackle Ryan Clady on a pass, they give up a five-yard sack and they drop three-yards on a pass to Eddie Royal… back to Prater for the rescue and Denver holds a whopping 6-0 lead on a team they should realistically beat by twenty.
Is it just me or is the excitement starting to fade? Everybody's dancing but nobody's getting anywhere – Lechler punts – Berger punts and the quarter comes to a close with the Broncos on top by six…
I'm having flashbacks to the final three games of 2008 – playoffs on the line and Denver can't even grab one game to advance. Believe me if they drop this one they're in the same boat. Frye marches them down to the 23-yard line where Michael Bush runs untouched into the end zone for seven – Raiders open a lead 7-6 and the crowd is absolutely stunned…
You can almost hear the post game excuses being written as we speak…
Broncos respond with one decent 15-yard pass and four-plays that amount to jack… Berger's back out to punt. Wonder if there's a way to sneak beer into the press box?
At this stage I'm not even sure beer would do the trick – Raiders roll out an 8-play, 24-yard drive and Janikowski nails it from 54 out. To pile it on even further Janikowski connects from 28-yards out after the Broncos roll three and out and Oakland closes out the half with a 13-6 lead…
Keep in mind – Vegas had a 14-point spread on this one with Oakland starting their third string QB – a dude that's completed only twelve passes in the past two years… It's a must win for Denver to have any kind of a shot at the Wild Card and by all practical purposes should be a Broncos blowout.
Team leaves the field to a chorus of boos… deservedly.
McDaniels continues his love affair with Knowshon Moreno but he's got LaMont Jordan as his backup plan – Peyton Hillis is nowhere to be found... Sportstalk will be all over this one on Monday.
Denver takes the kick to open the second half and it's basic Broncos football – or at least what we've come to know as Broncos football – whole lot of motion with minimal results… Matt Prater splits it from 51 and the Broncos trim the lead 13-9.
Does anyone have any Rolaids?
Time for the Big Pay of the Day – with Oakland starting to make their mover D.J. Williams absolutely unloads on Raiders RB Darren McFadden – ball is out, Broncos recover at the 50 and they've got half a field and a whole lot of time to try and get back on board…
Orton rolls it – to Marshall for seven, to Marshall for 19, best drive of the day. Orton gets his shot at the highlight reel with a nine-yard scramble to the Raiders ten…three plays later it's back to Marshall at the goal line – Denver touchdown. 70,000+ simultaneously wake up and we've got a ball game.
Now it's up to the Denver "D"…. Raiders keep it on the ground – Michael Bush for 18, Michael Bush for 40, McFadden for 28 and before you know it it's first and three from the 3…not exactly what I had in mind.
Close quarters – three straight rushes and Denver's D line comes up huge… third quarter comes to a close with Oakland facing fourth and one from the one.
Huge stand for Denver – Raiders elect to go for it on fourth and credit the big guys up front – Broncos take over on downs.
Moreno (dangerous call) off tackle for nothing…toss to B Marsh for nine and Orton up the middle for maybe an inch…here comes Berger for the punt – 64-yards and Oakland gets another shot from the 40.
Huge blow to the Raiders – Frye gets his head slammed to the turf midway through the drive and the only other QB on the roster is headed in – first round bust JaMarcus Russell… drive stalls five-yards further than the original line of possession and the Broncos field it at their own 19.
First three plays of the drive and Moreno and Jordan both hit negative numbers on their carry – fortunately Orton finds Brandon Stokley (remember him?) and a short pass becomes a HUGE gain as he breaks it down to the two-yard line.
Orton to Scheffler is incomplete – Moreno on the ground looses one and it's basck to Scheffler for another incompletion… amazing – three shots to get two "stinking" yards and they can't pull it off?
Did I mention there still hasn't been a Hillis sighting on any short yard situation?
Prater from 21 out and Denver increases the lead 19-13 with plenty of time left…
Here's the Readers Digest version – Raiders three and out – Denver three and out and with 3:29 left on the clock the Raiders take possession on their own 38. With a brief appearance by J.P. Lossman thrown in when Russell got dinged the Raiders are moving it. Russell's back and brining it down field – first and ten from the ten – a touchdown will win it for Oakland.
Russell's fighting the noise – incomplete to Higgins – Russell to Schilens picks up four – add half the distance to the goal on a flag thrown on Wesley Woodyard for illegal contact – automatic first down at the five-yard line.
False start on the Raiders moves it back to the ten – still first down. Russell out of the shotgun falls incomplete to Murphy… back to the shotgun for Schilens and it's a Raiders touchdown – Denver's Wild Card hopes have (un)officially come to a close…talk all you want about being mathematically still in the race, if you can't pull one out at home against a team like Oakland, you don't really deserve to be in the playoffs anyway.
Denver gets another shot but it's too little to late and out of time outs… Game closes out Raiders on top 20-19
How embarrassing is it to get jacked by a Charlie Frye / JaMarcus Russell combo? I'll try and check that out in McD's Post Game Presser…
Post game Notes and Quotes to follow
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past twelve-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 and Internet stations around the country. You can follow all of Schon's updates on Twitter or drop him an email at Michael John Schon
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