The much anticipated matchup between the Broncos and Raiders, both 8-5 and tied, along with the Chargers, for the AFC West lead coming into the stretch.
Hollas threw for over 350 yards in each of last season's 2 games (354 in Denver a 41-21 Raider victory, and 387 yds in Oakland, a 42-14 Raider victory). The Denver personnel are a bit banged up coming in. Starting HB Michael Bennet however, acquired in a trade with the Vikings before the season, is having a stellar year for Denver, averaging 4.9 yds a carry on 220 carries thus far and has rushed for 15 TDs. The Raider pass defense has had issues, but the Run defense has yielded an NFL low 2.7 yds/carry... a very large part of the Raider success, and the reason they have still looked good on defense.
The weather at game time was blustery, with a temperature of 53F and a brisk wind of 16mph.
The Broncos won the coin toss and took the field at their own 20 after a touchback on the kickoff.
A quick 3-and-out as Bennet carried twice for 4 yards and a sack on the lone pass play.
Hester fielded the ensuing punt at his own 36 and turned on the jets. After a 42 yard punt return, the Raiders scored on a one play strike from Hollas to WR Graddy, and it seemed that the Raiders would dominate this game.
At halftime the Raiders led by a 24-3 score. Bennet had been held to 13 yds rushing on 8 carries. The Raiders had played turnover free ball, and had converted 7-8 third downs...two of their more serious questions coming into the game.
In the third quarter, defense dominated, as both teams only managed a FG, and the Raider lead going to the 4th Quarter stood at 27-6.
In the 4th Quarter, the Broncos staged a furious rally, with TD drives of 6 plays 72 yds, and 5 plays 58 yds. At 4:50 left to play, the score was Oakland 30 Denver 20. The Raiders punted from their own endzone, and Denvers PR, CB Brown, slipped into high gear, and brings the ball all the way back to the Red Zone with a 28 yard return to the Oakland 19.
4 plays later Bennet carries it in from 3 yards out, and the score is 30-27. Denver still has all their time outs, and their coach elects to kick off with 2:56 to play.
Raiders McCallum carries 3 yards- Denver Timeout #1. 2:49 to play, 2nd and 7 at the Raider 26.
Raiders Hollas back to pass, no receiver open, he takes off on a scramble...2 yard gain, Denver Timeout #2 2:38 to play, Raider 3rd and 5 their own 28. Denver with one timeout remaining, plus the two minute warning.
On the Raider side... a coaching decision between running the ball to force another timeout, but low odds of a first down, or throwing the ball and if incomplete, only using a few seconds.
We opt to throw the ball. Hollas back to pass a quick out pattern...but the routes break down, and as he dumps it to the safety valve RB, the Broncos RLB steps in front, and the first Raider turnover of the game proves very costly. LB Jenkins sprints 14 yards before running out of gas. Denver 1st and 10 at the Oakland 17 YL.
Raiders D steps up and stuffs Bennet on 1st down for -2 Yds. 2nd and 12, a Fade route by the Broncos. WR Speece open in the End Zone, and the Broncos have their first lead 34-30 1:58 to play and the 2 minute warning.
Broncos kick a squib ball. Raider football, 1st and 10 Raider 38 Yard Line.
Hollas back to pass, sacked for a 9 yard loss. 1:47 2nd and 19 Raider 29.
Hollas back to pass...pump fake to WR2 Deary, WR1 Graddy streaking and UNCOVERED! Hollas hits him in stride at the Denver 48...40...35 brought down at the Denver 32 YL a 39 yard strike, Raider timeout #2. Raider 1st and 10. Graddy is winded and is replaced by WR 4 Erik Thomas... a speed improvement of 82 vs 78 but dropoff in "Hands" of 96-90.
Raiders line up with an empty backfield, 3 Wide Left 2 Right. Thomas on the Right goes in motion to the Left, the snap, Hollas back, throws into traffic in the middle of the field, Hester has it and is tackled immediately, gain of 11 moves the chains, first down Raider! First and 10 at the Denver 21. Raiders use their final timeout.
Hollas back to pass, sacked at the Denver 27, but this play will be brought back, Holding against the Defense, 5 yards and a first down...Raider 1st and 10 at the Denver 16, 1:01 to play.
Hollas back to pass, Deary in the endzone, TOUCHDOWN Raiders!
San Diego 9-5 Oakland 9-5 Denver 8-6