OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Denver Broncos went back to the
formula they used to start the season: a stifling defense that made
up for the mistakes of the offense.
Jake Plummer overcame three interceptions to throw a go-ahead
touchdown pass to Kyle Johnson early in the fourth quarter and the
Broncos forced two fumbles down the stretch to seal a 17-13 victory
over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
|Scouts Inc.'s take ...|
Despite a struggling Jake Plummer and a non-existent run game, the Denver Broncos were able to get out of Oakland with a win. Like usual, they were able to stay in the game because Oakland could not generate much either on the offensive side of the ball. Denver's defense was its usual stingy self forcing two Andrew Walter (above) fumbles. The Raiders right now are lost offensively. Their two best offensive weapons are WR Randy Moss (one reception) and RB LaMont Jordan (10 carries for 12 yards). Until they find ways to get them involved they will continue to struggle to consistently move the football. For Denver it was not much prettier. They are fortunate the win column does not have pictures as they once again proved that good teams find ways to win when they don't play their best football.
After breaking through with 31-point performances the past two
weeks, Denver (7-2) reverted to its early season form when the
defense dominated and often won in spite of the offense.
While that proved to be more than enough against the struggling
Raiders (2-7), the Broncos know they'll need to be better when the
competition gets tougher starting with next week's first-place
showdown against San Diego.
"The good thing about it is we got a win, but we didn't play
our best game," receiver Javon Walker said. "We left a lot of
yards out there on the field. We made a lot of penalties and put
ourselves in bad positions. We knew we could have played better."
The winning touchdown came after a fumbled punt by Denver was
overruled by an obscure penalty call against Oakland.
The Raiders appeared in control when they recovered David
Kircus' fumble at the Denver 20. But instead of adding to a 13-7
lead, Oakland was forced to punt again when Chris Carr was called
for a personal foul for running out of bounds on the coverage.
"I was out of bounds longer than I probably should have been,"
Carr said. "It was a close call. Sometimes they'll call it,
sometimes they won't."
After the second punt, Denver started its drive on its 40.
Plummer completed seven straight passes and gave the Broncos a
14-13 lead on a fourth-down, play-action pass to Johnson with 11:06
"Coach [Mike] Shanahan is a riverboat gambler," Johnson said.
"This time it came up in our favor."
The Raiders went three-and-out on the next drive and backed
Denver down to the 2 on a 55-yard punt by Shane Lechler. But when
Oakland most needed a stop, Plummer was able to get three first
downs and move the ball into Raiders territory.
Oakland took over at its 17 with 4:03 remaining, but Kenard Lang
forced a fumble that John Engelberger recovered for the Broncos at
the 12. That set up Jason Elam's 24-yard field goal with 1:56 to
Walter fumbled the snap to start the next drive -- his second
lost fumble in as many plays -- sending Oakland to its 11th straight
loss against AFC West opponents.
"I know our defense is going to play well," said Plummer, who
finished 21-for-30 for 210 yards and two touchdowns. "Even if we
start slow and get behind, we've just got to keep pushing. We're
putting ourselves in some tough spots, but we're pulling it out
when it matters, and that's only going to pay off down the stretch
in the season."
Walter was 18-for-33 for 214 yards and the two fumbles. Randy
Moss caught only one pass -- for eight yards -- and the Raiders were
shut out in the second half for the fourth time this season. They
have scored only seven offensive touchdowns all year.
In a veiled shot at offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, Walter said
the Raiders are too predictable on offense.
"We don't have a lot of depth as far as our playbook goes," he
said. "They made some adjustments and started coming after us in
the second half."
Oakland's moribund offense finally got the help it needed early
in the first quarter when Plummer threw a pass behind Walker that
was intercepted by Nnamdi Asomugha, who returned it to the Denver
15. That set LaMont Jordan's 1-yard score, ending a streak of 34
straight possessions without an offensive touchdown for Oakland.
Plummer was intercepted by Fabian Washington on fourth-and-1
from Denver's 49 on the next possession, but Oakland couldn't
"We kept getting interceptions, but I guess it's one of those
deals where when we get the interceptions, we have to score with
it," safety Stuart Schweigert said.
Denver's offense couldn't move the ball at all for most of the
first quarter before a 42-yard punt return by Kircus got the ball
to Oakland's 41.
Plummer hit Walker on a slant on third down, Walker eluded
Schweigert near the 20 and raced in for his fifth TD in the last
three games. Before that, Plummer was just 1-for-7 with two
Sebastian Janikowski kicked two field goals to give Oakland a
13-7 halftime lead, including a 55-yarder that tied his own
franchise record.Game notes
RB Mike Bell, Denver's second-leading rusher, was healthy
but inactive for the game as Shanahan chose to play Damien Nash,
who was activated from the practice squad before the game. Nash ran
for 14 yards on four carries. ... Denver swept Oakland for the
eighth time in 12 seasons. ... Janikowski also kicked a 55-yarder
on Nov. 2, 2003, at Detroit.
- Bill Leavy