Broncos buck Oakland

The Oakland Raiders, by all accounts, should have won this game. It was within their grasp - but like so many before they allowed it to slip right through. On the other side...

The Denver Broncos won't look back fondly at their game on Sunday against Oakland. The Broncos did win. They pulled together enough plays in the fourth quarter to squeak out a 17-13 victory, which kept them tied for first place in the AFC West.

Style points weren't as important as keeping pace with San Diego, which is tied with the Broncos at 7-2 and coming to Denver next week.

"We didn't play one of our better games, and the Raiders had a lot to say about that," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. "But to come in this venue and find a way to get it done when we played like that says a lot about our guys."

Denver needs to play much better against the Chargers. Quarterback Jake Plummer started slow and the rest of the team followed. Plummer threw an interception to Nnamdi Asomugha that set up Oakland's first touchdown.

Plummer threw two more interceptions, later in the first quarter on a fourth down play and on a deep pass in the third quarter in which he overthrew Rod Smith.

The Broncos struggled to move the ball most of the game. The running game averaged 2.4 yards per carry and didn't have a run more than nine yards.

Two fourth-quarter drives saved Denver. The Broncos put together a 60-yard drive that ended with a gutsy call on fourth down and goal. Denver went for the touchdown and called a pass. Shanahan's gamble paid off, because fullback Kyle Johnson was wide open for a touchdown.

"Not only does he go for it, but maybe someone else would have run a quarterback sneak and got stopped," Johnson said. "He tried something that maybe you wouldn't try to get (the defense) off balance."

The Broncos also had a drive in the fourth quarter that ate up almost five minutes of the clock.

The Broncos' defense held Oakland out of the end zone, aside from a 15-yard drive following Plummer's first interception. Denver took advantage of a bad Raiders offense. They did a good job getting a pass rush against Oakland's offensive line. End Kenard Lang forced a fumble with less than two minutes remaining that set up a field goal. Then Oakland gave away another turnover, when Andrew Walter fumbled a snap and Denver recovered.

"They gave us some trouble today, but we were able to overcome and did enough to win," Plummer said.

The Broncos can now look ahead to San Diego. They can't make the mistakes on offense they did against Oakland and expect to win, and they have to figure out why their running game is struggling. The defense also will have it a lot tougher against San Diego, which scored 42 points in the second half against Cincinnati.

The Broncos said their struggles against Oakland weren't because they were looking ahead to the first meeting against the Chargers this season.

"I didn't look ahead at all," Plummer said. "I heard they moved it to Sunday night, that's all I knew. But I knew this wasn't going to be an easy game."


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