Posted Sun Dec 20th by Monty
For whatever reason, Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell‘s best games come in the least likely of places: the home stadium of his fiercest rival.
Russell, supplanted on the depth chart this week for the second time in as many months, came off the bench after Charlie Frye was injured to execute a 62-yard fourth-quarter drive capped by a 10-yard touchdown strike to WR Chaz Schilens. Sebastian Janikowski‘s extra point attempt sailed through the uprights, and the Raiders held on to beat the Denver Broncos 20-19.
Russell has had success in Denver before: he and the Raiders put a 31-10 bruising on the Broncos in November of last year. The third-year quarterback threw one touchdown and no interceptions then, and he he threw for the same this week.
His career has been mired and ridiculed outside of Denver, and rightfully so, but 2007’s top overall draft pick continues to play his best football in Denver.
But the Raiders didn’t win off Russell’s arm, or anyone’s for that matter. They won the game on the ground. Russell’s wild comeback simply finished what was a wild football game from opening kickoff.
The Broncos started by looking dominant, intercepting Frye early and moving the ball with ease on offense. They failed to punch it in on two straight drives (this would become a running theme, unsurprisingly) and had to settle for field goals. They took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, and it appeared the Broncos would hardly have to break a sweat to move to 9-4.
They would start sweating soon. Frye, who had only played in one game since 2007, bounced back with three scoring drives (one Michael Bush running touchdown and two field goals) to give the Raiders a 13-6 at halftime.
Meanwhile, the Broncos offense sputtered. The Broncos went three-and-out on all three drives in the second quarter. For 18 minutes and 20 seconds that spanned the first through third quarters, Josh McDaniels‘ offense failed to tally a single first down.
After a Matt Prater field goal in the third quarter, Darren McFadden‘s fumble led to a Kyle Orton touchdown to Brandon Marshall that gave the Broncos a 16-13 lead.
The Raiders weren’t done, though. They unleashed Michael Bush and McFadden again, and the pair combined for 86 rushing yards on three — THREE! — straight carries.
It was a sign of things to come. The Broncos held on to prevent the Raiders from scoring on that drive, but the Raiders totaled a whopping 241 rushing yards against the 2008-esque Broncos defense.
Then Russell took over in an inexplicable win.
The rush defense was putrid, and the offense as a whole was awful. Those have been the running themes in the Broncos’ six losses this season, and it will continue to doom though as they participate in the AFC’s playoff chase.
The loss knocked the Broncos out of division contention; the San Diego Chargers are officially the 2009 AFC West champions, and it also knocked them down to the 6th seed in the AFC. They join the 8-6 Ravens as wild cards, with a half dozen 7-7 teams salivating to take their place. The Broncos travel to Philadelphia in Week 16 before finishing the season against the Chiefs at home.
No game bodes well for the bumbling Broncos when they suffer the embarrassing type of loss they suffered today.