The Oakland Raiders kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 39-23 defeat of the Denver Broncos, completing the season sweep of their division rival. The game was a see-saw affair for three quarters before Oakland took control in the fourth quarter and put away their seventh victory. The Raiders are now 7-7 and sit two games back of the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs.
The Raiders victory was due to a mix of dominant rushing, some timely defense, some huge penalties and as is often the case, Sebastian Janikowski’s leg. The Raiders rushed for 264 yards at a clip of 6.4 yards per rush. That average was helped out considerably by Jacoby Ford’s 71 yard run, but Darren McFadden had a big day of 119 yards on only 20 carries. He did lose a fumble in the first quarter that resulted in a Broncos TD, but for the most part he was as reliable as anybody today.
The Broncos hung close behind a fairly effective starting debut for QB Tim Tebow. Kyle Orton was out with multiple injuries and Tebow made the most of his debut. He was only 8 of 16 for 138 yards but he completed a 33-yard touchdown pass and rushed for 78 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
The Raiders got big efforts from Jacoby Ford, Marcel Reese, and Michael Bush, but Sebastian Janikowski also proved key in wet conditions at the Oakland Coliseum. He connected on three field goals that included a long of 49 and also contributed a punt when Shane Lechler hurt himself, which was muffed by Denver and turned into three more points for Oakland.
The Raiders sit two back of the Chiefs and one back of San Diego with two games remaining. The Raiders visit Kansas City the final week of the season but will need the Chiefs to lose to the Tennessee Titans next week at Arrowhead, and will also need the Chargers to lose either at Cincinnati or at Denver to close out the season. If the Raiders finished tied with the Chiefs and/or the Chargers at this point, they’ll hold the number one tie-breaker having swept both teams.