Raiders’ mistakes cost them win against Denver

Three plays really mattered for the Raiders Sunday against the Broncos:

Two missed field goals, and a pick six thrown by Oakland quarterback Derek Carr and taken back 74 yards by Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr., for six points.

Because of these massive mistakes, the Raiders fell to their division foe Denver Broncos, 16-10.

This story has been updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the Raiders locker room.

Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski wasn’t on his game, with his first field goal blocked and his second pushed a yard and a half left of the south end uprights.

The Raiders also committed a costly fumble when Broncos safety T.J. Ward hit tight end Mychal Rivera in the fourth quarter, and another fumble was reversed after officials ruled Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts didn’t secure a fourth-quarter catch.

But Carr’s pick-six was the deal breaker, the momentum changer. The Raiders were charging, down two points, and in field goal range. Carr threw the ball right to Harris, though Roberts was the closest receiver.

That play will ultimately overshadow brilliant things the Raiders did against a very good football team. Charles Woodson picked Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning twice to jump two spots in the all time interceptions list, passing Ronnie Lott and Darren Sharper with tying Ed Reed with 64 career picks.

After the game, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was pissed.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

The Raiders allowed the Broncos only two third down conversions on 13 tries, a 15 percent clip. The Raiders converted 44 percent of the time, seven of 16 attempts.

The Raiders won the time of possession game with just over 34 minutes of control.

Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and fullback Marcel Reece had excellent showings. Cooper, covered by Harris for the majority of the day, managed to reel in all four passes his way for 47 yards. He also drew a clutch pass interference call against Harris with 1:45 left in the game.

Carr, despite being under duress all day and right tackle Austin Howard not doing him any favors, posted respectable numbers against the league’s best defense: 249 yards, a 66 percent completion percentage and an 82.1 quarterback rating.

The Raiders looked very good, and seemed like they could win. Until Harris picked Carr. And then, it all spiraled out of hand.

But the blocked and missed field goals left six points on the board. The difference between regulation time ending and overtime beginning. The difference between kicking a 50 yard field goal after two consecutive misses and going for a touchdown, and the win.

Said Del Rio:

“(Janikowski’s) had many great days. Today wasn’t one of them.”

Del Rio should have been pissed. Carr didn’t seem energetic after the loss, which is a rarity for his brightening presence; the young quarterback always has his way of remaining positive.

Said Carr:

“We left points out there.”

Oakland won in every facet. Except the field goal department, which ultimately doomed them, swinging their record from 3-2 to 2-3.

If it were July, and a man told his friend that the Raiders would hold the Broncos to 43 rushing yards, the entire Denver offensive unit scoreless, and Demaryius Thomas to only 55 yards on five grabs, it would be a responsible thing to drive that friend home and share concerns with the man’s family.

Maybe follow the Sarkisian lead and look for a solid rehabilitation clinic. What the Raiders did Sunday was more like a product of Hollywood than reality.

Yet it wasn’t Hollywood. The Raiders, credit due to their personnel department and coaches, look very good. And that’s the overall takeaway for fans who choose optimism.

Del Rio said:

“I don’t think we have any problem playing football and getting ourselves back in the battle. … I thought we gave ourselves a chance. We got off the field on third down. We’ve been really solid against the run. There’s some positives.”

Del Rio added:

“We take our lumps. I’m not happy about it. We’re not happy about it. We expected to win this game. It didn’t happen.”

There’s reason to go the positive route entering the bye for the team. There isn’t a team in the division they aren’t capable of beating. There might not be a team in the NFL that they don’t stand a chance against.

Really, there isn’t.

But Sunday, it was Oakland beating Oakland, to quote former interim head coach Tony Sparano, who helped the team remain optimistic amid arguably the worst season in franchise history.

The things that most fans take for granted didn’t go right, and surely even players would consider a 24-yarder from arguably the best kicker in the league a gimme.

Murphy’s Law in full effect.

The Raiders fall to 2-3, and the Broncos remain undefeated with five wins.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.