Heading into Week 9, the Oakland Raiders were slated for a slugfest against the Denver Broncos, with sole possession of first place in the AFC West on the line. Quarterback Derek Carr and running back Latavius Murray needed to play to their abilities to stifle the Broncos defense and they succeeded.
It seemed as though both teams needed time to find a groove on offense coming out of both halves, as the scoring for the contest started out rather slow. Head coach Jack Del Rio won the coin toss, but elected to put his defense out first in order to send a statement.
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian took the field with his plethora of weapons across the field. However, it seemed as though the Broncos were a little nervous and had two drops on their opening three-and-out.
The Raiders then received the ball and steadily drove down the field, which led to a Sebastian Janokowski 24-yard field goal. Janokowski would tack on another 29-yard field goal, giving the Raiders a 6-0 lead.
Both defenses started out strong, not allowing the other team to scratch a touchdown in the first quarter. Coming into the contest, the Broncos were without two starting cornerbacks, including their No. 1 Aqib Talib. In normal circumstances, Talib would be glued to the opponent’s best receiver.
With a replacement in the contest, Carr continued to hit slot receivers Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes continually for minimum gains.
The Raiders capped off a strong drive to end the first quarter, setting up first and goal to begin the second frame. On third down, Murray plunged into the end zone and barely passed the goal line for a one-yard touchdown.
With the Raiders up 13-0, the Broncos needed to respond and received a big boost from their quarterback. On first and 10 in Raiders territory, Siemian elected for a play-action, but saw Khalil Mack closing in for a sack. He then lobbed a ball deep to the right pylon and connected with Jordan Norwood for a 36-yard touchdown.
Head coach Gary Kubiak had set up some successful running plays using Devontae Booker, which fooled the Raiders on the fake rush.
While Murray would go on to have a phenomenal game, the help from rookie running back Jalen Richard also was on display. He broke free for multiple runs during the game, including a second quarter rush, which involved trucking Broncos safety T.J. Ward.
With Richard succeeding on the field, Murray was able to rest on the sideline and retain some of his explosiveness. The Raiders had a two-minute drive to end the half and received some help when Murray broke free for about 40 yards down the right sideline. It set up Murray’s second rushing touchdown of the game, another one-yard rush.
The Broncos were able to tack on a Brandon McManus 55-yard field goal as well, giving the Raiders a 20-10 lead going into halftime.
Both offenses would be held scoreless through the third quarter, as the defenses began showing some poise at a rocking Oakland Coliseum. Pro Bowler Khalil Mack would demonstrate his strength and quickness in third quarter, capped off with a 10-yard sack on Siemian towards the end of the third quarter.
McManus nailed a 44-yard field goal to open the fourth, which would be counteracted by a Janokowski 35-yard field goal. With Siemian rolling in the fourth quarter, Ken Norton Jr.’s defense once again came away with a turnover, courtesy of their other prime defensive end. Bruce Irvin beat former teammate Russell Okung with a spin move and forced a fumble on Siemian, which the Raiders would recover.
The Raiders drove down the field and gave the dagger for the game, courtesy of Murray’s third one-yard touchdown of the game. With a 30-13 lead, the Broncos scored once more on a broken play, with Kapri Bibbs breaking free and dodging tackles on a 69-yard touchdown.
The Raiders would go on to win by a score of 30-20, earning sole possession of the lead in the AFC West. With a record of 7-2, the Raiders are now 2-2 at home and 5-0 on the road.
On 20 rushes during the game, Murray broke free for 114 yards and three touchdowns. His running back mate Richard totaled 62 yards on eight rushes, which proved to be crucial gains.
Carr completed 20 of his 31 passes for 184 yards, managing the game well. Also of note, Carr completed passes to nine different receivers, spreading the wealth.
Mack ended the contest with two sacks and a forced fumble, which the Raiders recovered. The Raiders now enter a bye week with a lot of momentum, as coach Del Rio has fully embraced a winning culture amongst the entire roster.