As recently as three weeks ago, the Denver Broncos were in contention for a playoff spot. After a third straight loss to non-playoff teams, that feels like a distant memory.
The Oakland Raiders, in perhaps their final game ever at the Oakland Coliseum, pounced on the Broncos early and ran over the Denver defense to earn a 27-14 win.
Doug Martin rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown on a muddy field to carry the Oakland offense. Meanwhile, a 99-yard punt return touchdown by Dwayne Harris and interceptions by Marcus Gilchrist and Erik Harris of Broncos quarterback Case Keenum helped carry the Raiders to their fourth win of the season.
Harris made an incredibly wise decision to return a punt that had already been touched by the Denver punt team. Once the ball was touched by the punt team, it ensured the Raiders would have possession regardless of if Harris fumbled, lost yards or otherwise. He picked the ball up off the 1-yard line and outflanked the Denver coverage team to take the ball 99 yards for the opening score of the game.
Martin would spring free for a 24-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and Daniel Carlson added a 43-yard field goal as the Raiders took a 17-0 lead into halftime.
Denver’s first seven possessions of the game: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, missed field goal, punt. The Broncos gained no more than 34 yards on any of those possessions and ran no more than seven plays on any drive.
The Broncos finally got on the board with their final possession of the third quarter. Denver marched 82 yards on 10 plays before Keenum connected with DaeSean Hamilton for a 7-yard touchdown to close the gap to 17-7.
Oakland immediately responded with a 72-yard scoring drive of their own capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by Jalen Richard. Denver would immediately answer back with an 11-play, 77-yard drive with Keenum tossing a second touchdown to Courtland Sutton from 19 yards out to cut the gap to 24-14 with 7:31 left to play.
After a 45-yard field goal from Carlson pushed the lead to 27-17, Keenum was intercepted on back-to-back drives by Gilchrist and Harris to seal the win for the Raiders.
The Broncos have lost to the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Raiders in the last three weeks to go from 6-6 and in the thick of the wild card chase to 6-9 and guaranteeing their first back-to-back losing seasons in 46 years (1971-72).