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Team Grades: Raiders Can't Sustain Strong Start Against Broncos

By Sam McPherson

The Oakland Raiders had a 10-6 lead late in the first half against the Denver Broncos, and for the slightest of moments, the Silver & Black fan base probably wondered if an upset was truly possible.

A few minutes later in "game time" and everyone had their answer: no.

The Raiders dropped to 0-9 on the season with a 41-17 loss at home to the Denver Broncos, as the visitors rattled of 35 straight points—all scored over the span of 16:43—to bury the Silver & Black at the Coliseum. 

Oakland is the only winless team in the NFL, and we were once again reminded of the talent gap between the Raiders and their division rivals from Colorado: It's pretty big.


Derek Carr again threw a boatload of passes (47) that went absolutely nowhere (192 yards). Forget the two interceptions—when you can't run the ball, there is no way your rookie QB is going to be able to make enough plays to win ball games.

The fact Carr completed 30 of his throws is impressive: nothing wrong with completing almost 64% of your pass attempts. Carr just doesn't have anywhere to throw the ball, because the defenses collapse on the passing game knowing the Raiders can't run the ball.

Carr is doing a pretty good job this year, all things considered. He's getting no help from his veteran backfield—none. He's out there every game doing everything he can, pretty much by himself. GRADE: B-


As noted above, Oakland just cannot run the ball. Darren McFadden turned in another joke of a game: seven carries, 14 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew wasn't much better: three carries, 10 yards. That's your Raiders running attack, right there: 10 carries, 24 yards.

Overall, the team has 15 carries for 30 yards, which means they couldn't run at all. That forces a lot of obvious passing downs, when the defense can just sit back and force a rookie quarterback into whatever they want. And this case, the Broncos made Carr settle for short passes—just like almost every other defense in the NFL has done against Oakland this season. To wit, wide receiver James Jones had eight catches—for 20 yards. 

Carr completed passes to a whopping 11 different receivers: That's the sign of a good QB. Truly, it is. Sadly, it just doesn't matter on this version of the Raiders. GRADE: D


It's never going to be a good day when Peyton Manning is in town, and although the defense intercepted him twice to help stake the team to that 10-6 lead, it didn't last. The Broncos ended up with 471 total yards, and Manning threw five touchdown passes.

The Broncos' seemingly eighth-string running back—someone named C.J. Anderson—ran for 90 yards on only 13 carries, while also catching four passes for 73 yards. You know it's a long day when C.J. Anderson is doing a Jamaal Charles impression against your defense.

As if Manning and his receiving corps wasn't enough work for the day.

Other than the interceptions by D.J. Hayden and Justin Tuck—yes, he actually did something noteworthy in this game—it was a long day for the Oakland defense again: They spent more than 32 minutes on the field, and that five-TD flurry that happened in the final three minutes of the second quarter and the first 14 minutes of the third quarter was grueling. GRADE: D

Special Teams

The kick coverage teams had a rough day, giving up 30 yards on the only kickoff return the Broncos fielded—and giving up 13 yards per return on four punts. Otherwise, it was just another nondescript day at the office for the Raiders' special-team units. In a game like this, it really didn't matter what they did, really. GRADE: B+

Next Week's Opportunity

Oakland travels south to San Diego next weekend to face the Chargers. San Diego beat the Raiders at the Coliseum earlier this season, 31-28. But the Chargers have lost three games in a row—the last two by a combined 51 points. They are not playing good football right now.

Can the Silver & Black take them? Not if they play like they did against the Broncos. The Chargers also had a bye this week, so they will be rested and focused.

No one wants to be the first team to lose to the Raiders.

For more Raiders news and updates, visit Raiders Central.

Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering all things Oakland A's. His work can be found on a

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