Week 16 Game Recap: Oakland Raiders 3, Denver Broncos 22
What you need to know
Oakland was in for a long day against a formidable opponent as they had to go to Denver without their main offensive weapon, RB Lamont Jordan. Jordan, sidelined with turf toe, had led the Raiders in both rushing and receptions throughout the 2005 season.
RB Zack Crockett started in place of Jordan, and he started strong by rushing six times for 31 yards on the first six Oakland plays. Unfortunately for Crockett the Raiders’ motto is a Commitment to Excellence, not a Commitment to the Run. QB Kerry Collins dropped back to pass on 27 of the next 31 plays, and Crockett had just two more carries before the fourth quarter.
Collins’ statistics belie how accurate his passes were against Denver. Collins completed just 17 of 41 attempts for 178 yards and no touchdowns, but he was victimized by eight dropped passes by his receivers. WR Randy Moss was his favorite receiver, as he had 13 targets. Unfortunately for Collins and Moss, Denver CB Champ Bailey covered Moss all day and took away a few catches with stellar defense, including disrupting a touchdown reception. Moss had the ball stripped out of his hands by Bailey on what would have been a 23 yard score.
RB Mike Anderson left the game early in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle, and he did not return to the game. However, the situation seemed to dictate his usage as he was taped up and ready to return, but Denver had the game well in hand and could afford to let him rest. With Denver clinching the #2 seed in the AFC, Anderson should be available in three weeks for the first Denver playoff game.
RB Tatum Bell had been sharing the backfield with Anderson in the first half, as Anderson started the game but Bell was given the next series. Anderson did come back in at the goal line, as he carried the ball in the red zone instead of Bell. Bell carried the workload after Anderson left the game, getting 10 carries and a reception in the second half. Nevertheless, HC Mike Shanahan has stated that he does not want Bell to get more than 15 carries a game, so RB Ron Dayne carried the workload for the final 11 minutes for Denver.
QB Jake Plummer had an outstanding first half, completing 15 of 18 passes for 209 yards as he consistently connected with WR Rod Smith and WR Ashley Lelie. Smith and Lelie were wide open often on short and middle routes with ample room to run after the catch.
WR Smith was frustrated despite his four catches for 77 yards in the first half. Three of his four receptions finished inside the Oakland five, just shy of a touchdown. Another pass came his way and skipped off his hands and right to Oakland FS Stewart Schweigert for Plummer’s lone interception.
Lelie left the game in the fourth quarter with a big gash on his arm from contact with a helmet. He received stitches after the game.
What you ought to know
Collins completed fewer than half of his passes, threw an interception and had zero touchdowns – but his numbers do not tell the whole story. Collins was victimized by his receivers, who dropped no less than eight passes. Collins consistently hit receivers in the hands and put passes exactly where they needed to be for his teammates to be successful, but they repeatedly made him look bad.
Collins was not without guilt, as he did miss an occasional receiver and did throw an interception in the end zone by forcing a ball into double coverage, but his numbers should have been far better in Week 16. He also often opted to throw quickly or out of bounds rather than to take a sack, which added to his incompletions.
Crockett started in place of the injured RB Lamont Jordan, and he started the game well. The Raiders ran the ball successfully on the opening drive, calling six consecutive run plays for Crockett to start the game. He produced 31 yards and two first downs, but then the Raiders abandoned the run. After they started to trail, the commitment to excellence did not include a commitment to the run. Oakland threw on 27 of the next 31 plays, reducing Crockett’s contributions. He later contributed 24 yards in the fourth quarter on the ground plus a ten yard catch, but long after the contest had been decided.
Fargas touched the ball three times in the final four minutes of the game, gaining 35 yards in garbage time on two runs and one catch.
Moss was continually frustrated by Denver CB Champ Bailey’s tight coverage. Moss managed to catch just five of 13 targets for 72 yards, losing a few more receptions due to Bailey. He had a 23 yard touchdown ball in his grasp in the second quarter, but as he started to secure the ball near the back of the end zone Bailey stripped the ball out of his hands.
Moss was targeted five times in the final period, but only one was catchable. Denver was pressuring QB Kerry Collins as the Raiders had become one dimensional, and many of Collins’ passes were hurried in the fourth quarter.
Porter caught four passes, all in the second quarter, but none were for more than nine yards. He dropped two catchable passes in the third that would have been good for about 35 more yards. Porter appeared to have made an 11 yard catch in the third, but the catch was overturned via replay.
Gabriel caught two balls officially, a four yard grab in the opening quarter followed by a 16 yard catch in the third period. He also had a 16 yard catch and run in the second quarter but lost credit for it due to a penalty. Gabriel lost another catch of about 15 yards when he dropped a ball that was perfectly thrown from QB Kerry Collins in the second quarter.
Williams started in place of the injured Courtney Anderson and saw six passes head in his direction. He was able to snare two of them for short yardage – one for eight yards in the first quarter and another for 14 in the fourth. He was guilty of dropping two passes, including one where he was open deep for 20 yards and no one between him and a 60 yard touchdown. Williams was also the intended receiver in the end zone when QB Kerry Collins threw an interception.
Foschi caught one pass for 11 yards in the second quarter.
Janikowski kept the Broncos from pitching a shutout against the Raiders as he converted his only field goal attempt of 43 yards in the fourth quarter.
Denver ran the ball 40 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Oakland allowed the two primary ball carriers for the Broncos, RB Mike Anderson RB Tatum Bell to pick up 117 yards on just 27 attempts including a touchdown.
QB Jake Plummer completed 15 of 18 passes for 209 yards in the first half as he was under no pressure and both WR Rod Smith and WR Ashley Lelie were consistently open. Plummer was only sacked twice and intercepted once due to a deflection off of WR Rod Smith. Only the play calling from Denver limited the Broncos from throwing for more than 300 yards.
|QB Jake Plummer, Pass: 19 - 29 - 268 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 16 - 1|
Plummer had a fantastic first half, completing 15 of 18 passes for 209 yards. The only blemish on that effort was an interception, which was another accurate pass intended for WR Rod Smith but went right through the Pro Bowl receiver’s hands and in to the waiting arms of Oakland FS Stewart Schweigert.
The only other problem that Plummer continues to have is in touchdown production, and he decided to take matters in to his own hands. Plummer scored himself on a QB sneak in the first quarter.
Plummer tapered off after halftime, completing just four passes for 59 yards, but the game was well in hand and he was not throwing except for second and third and long situations for most of the second half. He did scramble a bit, adding two more carries for 15 yards.
|RB Tatum Bell, Rush: 17 - 71 - 0, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets)|
Bell continues to contribute to the Denver running game, sharing time in the backfield with RB Mike Anderson. Bell started the second Broncos series as the single running back, but was later removed for Anderson near the goal line. Bell was utilized more than HC Mike Shanahan probably would have liked, as RB Mike Anderson sprained his left ankle in the early part of the third quarter. Bell had ten carries in the second half, including his usual staple of one big run. He broke off a 35 yard carry in the third quarter, the tenth time this season that he has rushed for 20 or more yards on a single play.
Bell touched the ball 19 times including two short catches, and was relieved late in the game by RB Ron Dayne.
Anderson had a good first half, but the question everyone will be asking for Week 17 and beyond will be about his left ankle. Anderson caught a short pass early in the third quarter and was tackled on the sideline and rolled over his ankle. The Broncos treated it as if he might be able to return, taping his ankle heavily, but with the game well in hand Anderson did not play another down.
Anderson started the game at running back for the Broncos, and he had ten rushes for 46 yards and a touchdown before halftime. He lost another touchdown on offsetting penalties when he ran it in from the four yard line of Oakland, and then carried for it to the one on the next play. QB Jake Plummer eventually scored the touchdown instead of Anderson.
Dayne saw action in the fourth quarter as RB Mike Anderson sprained his ankle in the third quarter and RB Tatum Bell had already carried the ball 17 times. With the game in hand and HC Mike Shanahan on record as stating that he does not want Bell to have but 10-15 carries a game, it was time for Dayne to finish off the contest. Dayne ran the ball eight times for the Broncos to finish the game.
Johnson was targeted twice in the second half on short passes. One fell at his feet and the other skipped off his hands.
|WR Ashley Lelie, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 6 - 110 - 0 (7 targets)|
Lelie was the most productive receiver for the Broncos, catching all but one of the seven passes thrown in his direction. Lelie had over 100 yards by the start of the fourth quarter on just five catches. His first five catches all were for more than ten yards, including a 34 yard catch and run in the first quarter on a nice comeback pattern. Lelie was open quite often in a spacious Raider secondary, giving him ample room to add yards after the catch. All of his catches were good for first downs.
The only incompletion targeted at Lelie was an end zone fade in the third quarter that was thrown well out of bounds.
Lelie had to receive 14 stitches in his elbow after he hit a helmet on his last catch.
Smith had another productive afternoon in Week 16, catching five passes for 91 yards. However, the Pro Bowl WR had to be frustrated as three of his catches finished with him tackled inside the Oakland five yard line. Smith had two catches in the first quarter and two more in the second, finishing his day by catching one more in the third. All five receptions were for over ten yards, ranging from 13-21 yards, and providing Denver five first downs.
Smith’s frustration at not scoring was likely exacerbated by allowing his QB Jake Plummer to have an interception. Smith let a pass go right through his fingers and ricochet right into the waiting hands of Oakland FS Stewart Schweigert.
Adams was targeted in the fourth quarter on a potential 35 yard touchdown, but he was double covered and had no chance to make the catch. He also lost seven yards on an end around in the third quarter.
Devoe caught one pass for one lone yard in the first quarter. He was later targeted in the third in the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete as he was double covered.
Alexander caught two passes in the first half. He caught both of his targets, the first for five yards in the first quarter and the second for 12 yards in the second period.
Putzier continues to be a key contributor in the Broncos passing game, but had little output in Week 16, catching just one pass for 17 yards in the first quarter. Putzier is quietly the third leading receiver in both catches (36) and yards (478) in Denver.
Elam connected on his first three field goal attempts, splitting the uprights from 29, 33 and finally 34 yards. His streak of 13 consecutive successes ended with a 52 yard field goal attempt sailing wide right in the third quarter.
Oakland started the game with six consecutive run plays by RB Zack Crockett for 31 yards, but then the Raiders abandoned the run almost entirely. Only four of the next 31 plays were rushes, as Crockett had just two more carries for six yards by the start of the fourth quarter.
Denver limited Oakland to fewer than 200 yards passing, zero touchdowns and added an interception. DB Champ Bailey clamped down on WR Randy Moss all day, limiting his production to just 72 yards and stripping a sure touchdown catch. Oakland was also their own worst enemy as their receivers dropped eight passes.