Somehow, the Denver Broncos almost always beat the Oakland Raiders.
Denver did it for the second time this season Monday night, winning 27-24 on Jason Elam’s 41-yard field goal on the final play of the game after Oakland had rallied from two touchdowns down in the second half to tie it with a little over a minute left.
It was the second loss this season for the Raiders (8-2) and dropped them into a tie for the NFL’s best record with Tennessee, Miami, Minnesota and St. Louis. It ended a six-game winning streak that began after Denver beat them 33-24 in Oakland on Sept. 17.
Wild Card in Balance
The Broncos (6-4) are still two games behind the Raiders, who could have just about wrapped up the AFC West with a win. But Denver will have the tiebreaker if they can make up those games and the Broncos are in the thick of the AFC wild-card race.
Under coach Mike Shanahan, the Broncos have beaten Oakland in 11 of their last 12 meetings.
The Broncos took a 24-10 lead early in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard TD pass to Byron Chamberlain from Brian Griese, who missed a little more than one series with a bruised shoulder.
That capped a string of 17 straight points by the Broncos, who broke a 10-10 tie in the third quarter when rookie Ian Gold blocked Shane Lechler’s punt and returned it 12 yards for a TD.
But the Raiders rallied for two TDs, the first on a 1-yard run by Zack Crockett, the second on a 22-yard pass from Rich Gannon to Tim Brown with 1:06 left.
It was Broncos weather — the temperature fell into the teens in the second half and the wind chill was near zero.
Oakland Took First Half
But the Raiders, playing without running back Tyrone Wheatley and kicker Sebastian Janikowski, dominated the first half, outgaining the Broncos 216-100. Oakland managed to lead by just 10-7 because of three turnovers and a plethora of penalties.
Denver took a 7-0 lead just 3:28 into the game on Terrell Davis’ 5-yard run after Ray Crockett intercepted a Gannon pass at the Oakland 39 on the game’s third play from scrimmage.
A 19-yard field goal by Brett Conway — subbing for Janikowski, whose infected foot kept him out — cut it to 7-3. Then Zack Crockett went in from a yard away with just under three minutes left in the half to give the Raiders a 10-7 lead.
The Broncos used the first 7:35 of the second half to drive 70 yards to the Oakland 4-yard line. But Davis was stuffed for no gain on third down and Denver had to settle for Elam’s 23-yard field goal that tied the game at 10.
Just over two minutes later, Gold, a rookie linebacker, broke up the middle and blocked Lechler’s punt, then picked it up and ran into the end zone.
Then Griese directed a flawless 83-yard drive, going 6-for-6 for 73 yards and throwing to Chamberlain for the score. And the defense stopped the Raiders on four downs from their 10 after a 49-yard completion from Gannon to Andre Rison.
But the Raiders scored on their next two possessions, setting the stage for Elam.