Eric Decker (87) scores on a 90-yard punt return against the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE)

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos – September 12, 2011


Memorial weekend has come and gone, so that means we are one step closer to the start of the 2012 football season.  To help fill the days of the long, hot summer ahead of us, I am continuing my look back at some of the games the Broncos have had against teams they will face in 2012.  Week Four of the 2012 season marks the Broncos’ first divisional battle, and that finds the Oakland Raiders visiting Denver.  The Raiders will be led by ex-Bronco Defensive Coordinator, Dennis Allen, in his first head coaching role.  Even though the September 30th matchup is the Broncos’ first game against an AFC West team, the Raiders are opening their 2012 campaign against the San Diego Chargers.  In 2011, the Raiders also opened their season with a game against a division foe – the Denver Broncos.  Continue reading for a brief overview of that season opener.

The final game of the first week of the 2011 NFL season found the Denver Broncos hosting the Oakland Raiders in the second Monday Night Football game of the evening.  Bronco fans were obviously excited for a number of reasons – the start of a new season, a prime time game against the Broncos’ biggest rival, and the kickoff of the John Elway-led team with new coach, John Fox.  When the game was over, and the evening came to an end, Bronco fans unfortunately found themselves and their team at 0-1 thanks to a 23-20 loss to the Raiders.  Even though the final score was much more respectable than the 59-14 drubbing the Raiders gave the Broncos in 2010, it was still a loss.  Not only was it a loss, it was a loss to the Raiders at home and on national television.  Coach Fox tried to put a positive spin on the situation after the game, as any good leader should do, by saying it was one game, and half the teams in the league were in the same spot the Broncos found themselves in.  Despite the truth in that statement, it provided little consolation to Bronco fans.

The first half of the football game obviously went to the Oakland Raiders as they had a commanding 16-3 lead at intermission.  All of the Raiders points came in the second quarter thanks to a short touchdown pass from Jason Campbell to Marcell Reece, and three field goals by Sebastian Janikowski.  Janikowski’s third and final kick of the second quarter tied an NFL record for longest field goal; a record held by Tom Dempsey and former-Bronco, Jason Elam.

The highlight of the evening for the Broncos came early in the third quarter when Bronco punt returner, Eric Decker, fielded a punt and returned it 90-yards for the Broncos first touchdown of the game.  The Broncos added a field goal late in the third quarter, making the score 16-13.  Campbell rushed for a Raider touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Kyle Orton threw his first touchdown of the game when he connected with Lance Ball with just under four minutes remaining in the game.  The Broncos were unable to get the ball back, as the Raiders controlled the clock by keeping the ball on the ground.  The Raiders’ rushing game thoroughly exposed the Broncos’ defense, as the black-and- silver ended the night with a total of 190 yards on the ground.  Bronco nemesis, Darren McFadden, earned 150 yards rushing, alone; a Raider record for rushing yards in a season opener.

Kyle Orton ended the game with 24 completions on 46 attempts, 304 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.  In addition to the interception, Orton also lost a fumble in the fourth quarter after the Broncos had driven to the Raiders 24-yard line; he was attempting to pass, and the ball slipped from his hand and was recovered by the Raiders.  On the play, Bronco tight end, Daniel Fells, was open and heading into the end zone.  The Raiders quickly covered 65-yards following the fumble recovery; scoring the decisive touchdown.  This play, as well as the interception, and the fact that the Broncos lost, may have been the reason some fans were chanting “Tebow! Tebow! Tebow!” as Orton exited the field following the game.  Little did those fans know that a month later their demands would be met.

The Raider win was their fourth consecutive win in Denver, and it was the Broncos’ first season opening loss since 2000.  It is often said that we study history so we don’t repeat the same mistakes that our ancestors made.  If this truly is the case, it is time the Broncos go back to class and take history; their first lesson can be the 2011 home opener against the Raiders.

Go Broncos! Good luck in 2012 (97 days and counting)

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Tags: Daniel Fells Darren Mcfadden Dennis Allen Denver Broncos Eric Decker Jason Campbell Jason Elam John Elway John Fox Kyle Orton Marcell Reece Monday Night Football Oakland Raiders Sebastian Janikowski Tebow Tom Dempsey

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