Cleat Geeks

Broncos Come Back To Beat Raiders, Move To 2-0

 

“We have a lot of fighters in that locker room. We wanted it bad, we want it for each other, we want it for the fans, we want it for the team.” -Case Keenum

The Broncos are 2-0 on the season after a 20-19 win over Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders that sent the coach to 0-2 in his return. It was a win, but it wasn’t easy. And as Keenum’s quote noted, it was evident that the Broncos do, indeed, have a lot of fighters on the team that badly wanted to win for the home town fans. And that’s just what they did, overcoming a 12-0 half time deficit and a 19-7 third quarter deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

It wasn’t just the Raiders that proved a challenge, as the Broncos played the hottest home game in team history, too. As one of the 75,000 plus in attendance Sunday, I can attest that the conditions were punishing. So, too, was the mistakes made by the Broncos early on.

While the defense employed a bend but don’t break mentality, the offense struggled to get going. There were miscues, middling runs and dropped passes. Demaryius Thomas struggled, catching just five passes for 18 yards on a team-leading 11 targets, including a few drops. Rookie Courtland Sutton caught just one of his six targets, dropping a couple early, too.

The officials didn’t make it any easier. Not once but twice TD tosses from Case Keenum were overturned. One to Tim Patrick early in the third quarter ended up as a Royce Freeman one-yard TD run. Another to Sutton, which appeared to be an officiating gaff since replay angles indicated he touched his feet down in the end zone, led to a Broncos’ field goal.

But the team kept battling. No one embodied that spirit more than Keenum. It wasn’t always pretty, but Keenum did it with his legs when he needed to. He kept the ball on a read option to pick up a critical third down and plunged into the end zone himself for a one-yard touchdown to cut the Raiders’ lead to 19-17 late in the fourth quarter. Then, following a drop, he connected with Patrick on a 26-yard strike to set up the go ahead field goal with just six seconds left to play.

The Raiders, meanwhile, saw a promising start evaporate. Derek Carr, rebounding from a three interception game on Monday night, was 29-for-32 for 288 yards on Sunday. He also got Amari Cooper going, hitting him 10 times for 116 yards. But a blocked point after touchdown in the second quarter and the Raiders’ inability to get a third down conversion to run the clock out in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference. Now they are 0-2, in last place in the AFC West while the Broncos remain perfect heading to Baltimore, tied with the Chiefs atop the division.

News and Notes

  • Phillip Lindsay continues to look like a star. He ran for 107 yards on 14 carries, including a 53 yard sprint in the first half that was the first play where the Broncos’ offense showed any life. While fellow rookie Freeman scored his first touchdown of the season, it’s Lindsay that looks like the real weapon for the Broncos.
  • Jake Butt caught four of six targets for 48 yards, another impressive showing for the second-year tight end playing in only his second regular season game after missing last season with a knee injury. If the Broncos can get production from the tight end, it will add a new dimension to the passing game.
  • Patrick seems to have jumped rookie DaeSean Hamilton in the pecking order. Patrick had only one reception for 26 yards, but he had a TD called back and appeared to be more active in the game plan. It’s worth monitoring as Patrick and Sutton seem to be gaining the confidence of Keenum and the coaches.
  • Von Miller wasn’t as dominate Sunday as in Week 1, but he still had five tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and the Broncos’ lone sack on the day. He now has four sacks on the season and continues to climb the all time sack leader list.

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