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Other Week 14 Game Recaps

Week 14 Game Recap: Oakland Raiders 15, Denver Broncos 12

What you need to know

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders offense put together one long touchdown and was also able to score after taking possession in the red zone following a Denver fumble. Aside from those two drives, the offense accomplished nothing against the talented Broncos defense (they had negative yardage overall at halftime). The Broncos suffocated the running game and took away the Raiders outside weapons. The only offensive players who had some small amount of success were tight ends Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera.

Denver Broncos

The advantage Brock Osweiler provides Denver is supposedly that his ability to run a “purer” version of coach Gary Kubiak’s offense allows the running game to work as intended. With the running game stuck in neutral, (in part because of the absence of C.J. Anderson), Denver had to put the game on Osweiler’s shoulders, and he doesn’t have the experience or the pocket presence to carry a passing game at this stage of his career.

Oakland Raiders

QB Derek Carr, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 29 - 135 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - -4 - 0
Carr played okay despite the horrible numbers. His only mistakes came in the form of holding the ball too long. On one third down, he saw nobody open and decided to retreat and keep looking for a receiver instead of throwing the ball away; the result was a sack and big loss that took the Raiders out of field goal range and likely cost three points. Carr fumbled on a play in which Von Miller was mistakenly left unblocked. While there was little Carr could have done to avoid the sack, he did a poor job of protecting the football. Carr’s opportunities to make plays were few and far between due to a relentless Broncos pass rush and tight coverage from the cornerbacks. He was able to make some plays to his tight ends where the matchups were more favorable. Carr marched the ball down the field on the first drive of the second half with key completions going to his tight ends and Michael Crabtree. Facing third down in the red zone, Carr gently lofted a pretty pass into the corner of the end zone where Seth Roberts was able to make a sliding grab for an 11-yard touchdown. After a fumble gave the Raiders possession deep in Broncos territory, Carr was able to find Mychal Rivera wide open for a 15-yard touchdown. He pump-faked a bubble-screen to Amari Cooper that brought the safety charging forward and then lofted the ball up to Mychal Rivera in the end zone who took advantage of the coverage breakdown to find an open spot in the coverage.

RB Latavius Murray, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 27 - 0 (1 targets)
Murray and the Raiders offensive line had a rough game. Murray was consistently hit at or near the line of scrimmage and his longest run of the game was just seven yards. Murray is especially ineffective in these scenarios because he struggles when he is not able to build up a head of steam.

WR Michael Crabtree, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 19 - 0 (5 targets)
Crabtree’s stats were unimpressive but he made some key catches in a game where yardage and first downs were at a premium. While he wasn’t able to gain much separation from the Broncos talented corners, he was able to use his strong hands to make grabs against tight coverage. He did not receive his normal amount of targets due to the Raiders looking to exploit more favorable matchups with the tight ends.

WR Seth Roberts, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 1 (4 targets)
Roberts continues to work as the third receiver and has had a knack for making plays in the red zone. He grabbed an 11-yard touchdown after a sweet double-move. He faked a quick slant that Bradley Roby jumped and then ran by him to the outside creating enough separation for Carr to drop it over the corner to a sliding Roberts in the back of the end zone.

WR Amari Cooper, 45 offensive snaps (8 targets)
Cooper had another tough showing. He wasn’t able to shake Aqib Talib when matched up in single coverage against him. Cooper’s most notable plays were a drop on a short pass and a play in which he stopped running his route with the ball in the air as Carr targeted him in the end zone. The Raiders were able to use Cooper to their advantage as a decoy a couple times, faking the bubble screen in his direction to open space downfield for the tight ends.

TE Clive Walford, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 47 - 0 (7 targets)
Walford has been coming on of late and shows some tantalizing flashes of talent that hint at a bright future. Walford is primarily being targeted deeper down the field (either down the seam or on wheel routes down the sideline) and was able to pick up a couple long gains. He made a spectacular 25-yard catch on a seam route on which he went up and extended his hands far away from his body to catch a fastball from Carr in traffic. Walford also nearly made a second incredible catch on a sideline route for another big gain when he went up to get the ball over the defender, but the toe of his second foot came down on the line. The play was initially ruled a catch, but was overturned after a challenge flag was thrown. Walford led the team in targets and while that was largely a product of the tough matchups for the receivers, he clearly is earning a bigger role in the offense as the season progresses.

TE Mychal Rivera, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 49 - 1 (4 targets)
Despite the emergence of Walford, Rivera was still a factor for the Raiders and led the team in receiving yards. He had the team’s biggest gain of the day grabbing a 29-yard pass down the right sideline against relatively tight coverage. Rivera also cashed in with a 15-yard touchdown on a well-designed and well-executed play that allowed Rivera to come wide open in the end zone. Rivera faked towards the corner as if he was going to block on a bubble screen to Amari Cooper (a play the Raiders had run twice previously) and Carr pump-faked that direction, causing the Broncos defenders on that side of the field to crash towards the line of scrimmage. After faking the block, Rivera sprinted past the flat-footed defenders and came wide open. After an initial bobble, he was able to come down with the ball in the back of the end zone and get both feet in for the touchdown.

Denver Broncos

QB Brock Osweiler, 80 offensive snaps, Pass: 35 - 51 - 308 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0
On a day where Denver’s defense played out of its minds, the Broncos merely needed the offense to play decent football to coast to victory. Unfortunately, (with blame to fall on a terrible running game and a few key late-game drops), Brock Osweiler’s inability to convert yards into points in the first half wound up costing the Broncos dearly in the second. He’s simply not at a point in his career where he’s able to carry an offense on his shoulders.

Osweiler had several good throws and positive plays, but by and large had absolutely no feel for the pocket, leading to a career day for the Raiders’ Khalil Mack, who had 5 sacks, each one of which ended a Denver drive, and one of which resulted in a safety. Despite being one of the tallest quarterbacks in history, Osweiler also had several batted balls.

In the first half, Denver had drives of 10 plays and 57 yards, 9 plays and 61 yards, 15 plays and 63 yards, and 12 plays and 61 yards, all of which ended in red-zone, (or near-red-zone) field goals. The failure to reach the end zone wound up haunting Denver, whose defense allowed one 80-yard touchdown drive and just 49 yards on 12 other drives, (not counting kneel-downs), but lost to an Oakland team that converted its few opportunities into touchdowns.

RB Ronnie Hillman, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 20 - 0, Rec: 7 - 41 - 0 (9 targets)
With running-mate C.J. Anderson ailing, Ronnie Hillman had a chance to shine with a larger share of Denver’s backfield, but he responded with a miserable performance against an active and penetrating Raiders front 7. Hillman was especially woeful as Denver approached the end zone; on three touches in the red zone, Hillman had a loss of one, a loss of six, and a loss of five with a fumble at the end, (which Denver recovered). And while Hillman’s seven receptions would seem to be a positive, they were mostly no-hope dumpoffs by a flustered Osweiler; after two positive-value receptions on Denver’s first drive, Hillman didn’t have a productive target until two minutes were left in the game.

RB C.J. Anderson
Ailing with an ankle injury, C.J. Anderson was active against the Oakland Raiders and available in case of an emergency, but did not play.

WR Demaryius Thomas, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 95 - 0 (14 targets)
As has been his tendency his entire career, Demaryius Thomas combined flashes of excellence with moments of frustration against the Oakland Raiders. On the positive side of the ledger, Thomas had a physical catch-and-run at the end of the first half where he dragged three defenders down to the goal line, (and appeared to injure his shoulder on the play). He also had a great sideline catch with a defender draped all over him, and generally was the Bronco most consistently able to get open against the Raiders. At the same time, Thomas had a drop at the goal-line that forced Denver to settle for a field goal, a horrible lost fumble after initially converting 3rd-and-3, and a bad drop on 3rd-and-4 with Denver trying to drive for the tying field goal.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (6 targets)
For the second consecutive week, (and the third time in four games), Sanders and Brock Osweiler simply could not get on the same page, in large part because Osweiler is most comfortable on passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and Sanders is at his best running more difficult intermediate routes. With little chemistry in the passing game, Sanders’ two most impactful plays came on returns; Sanders had a dazzling 29-yard punt return in the first half that was called back due to an incidental running-into-the-kicker penalty, and Sanders muffed a punt at the 11-yard line to set up Oakland’s game-winning field goal.

TE Vernon Davis, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 74 - 0 (9 targets)
Clearly becoming more comfortable in his new home, Vernon Davis took over as one of Brock Osweiler’s favorite targets against the Oakland Raiders. Davis was largely dependable, but had a few puzzling lapses in judgment, including back-to-back receptions in the first quarter where Vernon Davis ended his run by turning back towards the line of scrimmage and trying to reverse field, costing Denver several yards in the process. Aside from an apparent abundance of faith in his own athleticism, Davis was a consistent outlet for Osweiler. He also stretched the field vertically on occasion, drawing two rare deep targets; the first was a 23-yard gain to set Denver up in the red zone, and the second was a horrible, crushing drop deep down the field with no defenders in sight. The fact that the drop came on 4th-and-5, with Denver down by 3 and under 4 minutes remaining, only magnified the error.

TE Owen Daniels, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 43 - 0 (4 targets)
Despite a dumpoff-heavy gameplan that usually plays to his strength, Owen Daniels received very little work against the Oakland Raiders as fellow tight-end Vernon Davis was more heavily featured. Daniels received only four targets, and his only play of note came on a short catch over the middle with nothing but green grass in front of him that Daniels was able to run for 32 total yards.