Raiders notch intense victory over Broncos
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders are still under .500, but they have control of their playoff destiny in the AFC West after a wild 21-14 victory over the Denver Broncos at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Sunday.
Quarterback Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes and Marshawn Lynch ran for a score in a game that included a first-quarter brawl and three player ejections.
The Raiders (5-6) blew most of a 21-0 fourth-quarter, lead but survived to pull to within one game of the first-place Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) in the AFC West. Oakland is tied for second with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Being able to do that is just a lot of relief,” Carr said of the crucial victory. “And now we sit where we sit, and we know what’s ahead of us. It was just a lot of relief getting this win, getting back on the right track, and hopefully we can go on a run.
“We knew coming in today, we had to win. It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t take care of business.”
The Broncos (3-8) lost their seventh straight game and trail Kansas City by three games.
“We’re going to stick together regardless,” Denver safety Darian Stewart said. “It’s rough man. I haven’t been down this stretch, man.”
Carr completed 18 of 24 passes for 253 yards, and Lynch rushed for 67 yards on 26 carries.
The game was marked by a brawl that broke out with 11:56 left in the first quarter. Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib were ejected after fighting along the Denver sideline as players from both teams raced toward the confrontation. Raiders guard Gabe Jackson was also ejected for making contact with an official.
During the 2016 season finale in Denver, Talib ripped Crabtree’s gold chain off his neck on one play, and there was obviously lingering bad blood. Crabtree, who missed Oakland’s 16-10 loss at Denver on Oct. 1 with an injury, faced the Broncos for the first time this year.
Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio called it an “ugly incident” that could have cost his team a victory.
“I think they have a little bit of history with the chain snatching from years back,” Del Rio said. “I think there was an additional chain snatched, from what I understand.
“Bottom line is we can’t afford to lose one of our top receivers and then our starting guard.”
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph called the fight “unacceptable.”
“We can’t lose our best players because of personal battles,” he said. “That’s a personal battle. This is about the Broncos, so it’s unacceptable. We can’t have it.”
The Raiders lost starting wide receiver Amari Cooper to a concussion with 4:42 left in the first half. He rammed headfirst into Stewart’s hip on an incomplete pass. Stewart was penalized for unnecessary roughness.
Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch completed 9 of 14 passes for 41 yards with one interception in his first start of the season and third of his NFL career. He suffered an ankle injury late in the third quarter and left the game with the Raiders leading 21-0.
Trevor Siemian replaced him with 2:31 left in the quarter and played the rest of the game for Denver. He completed 11 of 21 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
Siemian threw a 25-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-6 to wide receiver Cody Latimer with 10:21 left to play, cutting Oakland’s lead to 21-7.
Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio missed a 35-yard field-goal try with 5:46 left to play, and Denver cut the deficit to 21-14 with 2:29 left when Siemian threw a 22-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Bennie Fowler III.
Oakland sealed the win on Carr’s 54-yard pass to wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson on third-and-8 from the 15 with two minutes remaining.
“They went cover zero on us,” Carr said. “It’s where nobody is deep.”
The Broncos appeared to take a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter on Paxton Lynch’s 20-yard pass to running back Devontae Booker. But after a video review, it was ruled that Booker was down at the 1-yard-line.
Two plays later, Lynch rolled left and tried to hit tight end Virgil Green, but Raiders linebacker NaVorro Bowman intercepted the deflected pass while on his back in the end zone. Bowman and safety Reggie Nelson combined to break up the pass, and Bowman wound up being in the right place at the right time for Oakland’s first interception of the season.
“That was one of those crazy plays,” Bowman said. “As Coach says, everybody run to the ball and great things happen.”
The Raiders marched 80 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead on Carr’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Cooper. Cooper beat the man coverage of cornerback Brendan Langley, who took over when Talib was ejected.
Oakland extended its lead to 14-0 with 2:49 left in the first half on Marshawn Lynch’s 1-yard touchdown run, capping a 52-yard drive.
Carr made it 21-0 with a 6-yard touchdown pass to running back Jalen Richard with 6:22 left in the third quarter. That pass came one play after Carr hit wide receiver Johnny Holton for 47 yards.
NOTES: Broncos starting DE Derek Wolfe suffered a neck injury early in the first quarter and did not return. ... Raiders starting CB David Amerson (foot) missed his fourth straight game, and Sean Smith started in his place. ... Broncos OL Allen Barbre started at right tackle.