By: Maliik Obee
Under the bright lights of Oakland Coliseum during NBC’s Sunday Night Football, the Oakland Raiders showed they were legit, defeating the Denver Broncos 30-20.
A prime midseason matchup, both teams were engaged in battle for the No.1 spot in the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday meant that whoever lost would be knocked to third place because of Kansas City’s hold of the division tiebreaker. For Oakland, the world was watching to see if they could prove their movie-like season wasn’t a fluke. For the Broncos, a win over a hot division foe was just another notch on the belt to prove that they could win without retired quarterback Peyton Manning.
The defending Super Bowl champions floundered offensively, as the seemingly unproven Raiders D forced two turnovers. Denver’s run game was ineffective, accounting for just 33 yards on the ground. Broncos’ running back Kapri Bibbs stepped up in the absence of C.J. Anderson, leading the team in receiving yards with 69 and a touchdown. Quarterback Trevor Siemian went 18-for-37 for 283 yards, throwing for two touchdowns. But his one interception proved costly, landing in the hands of Raider’s safety Reggie Nelson to secure an Oakland win.
Despite allowing 20 points, Oakland’s defense put on its best performance of 2016. Linebacker Khalil Mack sacked Siemian twice, forcing and recovering a fumble. Despite an injury to cornerback Sean Smith, Oakland’s young secondary shined, holding Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas to just 56 receiving yards.
The MVP of the game was Oakland’s offensive line, bullying the treacherous Denver front seven. Broncos’ linebacker Von Miller recorded a sack but was relegated to a punching bag for most of the night. Oakland rushed for over 200 yards as a team, with running back Latavius Murray going over 100 yards on the ground for the first time since Nov. 1st, 2015. Murray chipped in 114 yards on 20 attempts, garnering three touchdowns in a statement performance.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was allowed to keep his jersey clean, being sacked just twice. Carr went 20-31 with 184 yards through the air, hitting nine targets. But it was all about the run, as Oakland clocked in at 41:28 in possession time. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8, Oakland broke the NFL record for penalties, accumulating 23. Yet it was Denver who managed to be on the wrong side of the flag. Denver racked up 12 penalties for 104 yards, compared to eight for 72 yards by Oakland.
Oakland heads into a bye week, before traveling to Mexico to face the Houston Texans on Nov. 21. Denver heads to New Orleans Sunday to take on the Saints.