As if the suffocation the Broncos defense put on the Raiders wasn't enough, the silver and black will return to Oakland with a cloud hanging over their season after their 16-10 loss at Sports Authority Field.
Quarterback Derek Carr was kneed in the back by Denver lineman Adam Gotsis as he fell to the ground spinning away from a sack late in the third quarter. Carr lay on the turf, almost motionless for a few minutes before getting to his feet and walking gingerly to the sideline. He made his way to the locker room shortly thereafter, and did not return. Coach Jack Del Rio said afterwards that while tests are being done, the injury right now appears to be nothing more than spasms.
Backup EJ Manuel eventually got into a comfort zone, completing five straight passes and giving the Raiders their first first downs of the second half, but on third-and-10 from the Broncos' 20, a perfect strike into the end zone was dropped by Jared Cook as two Denver defensive backs converged. A field goal made it 16-10, while a final possession into Broncos territory ended with a pass down the left sideline for Amari Cooper (just two catches for nine yards) that was intercepted by Justin Simmons to seal the victory.
Denver's D held Marshawn Lynch and the Raiders ground game to 24 yards on 15 carries, while Von Miller had one of their three sacks. Oakland's lone touchdown drive began with an empty backfield completion from its own one yard line, and capped by a perfect 64-yard strike from Carr to Johnny Holton to make it 10-7 at halftime.
Denver also benefited from strong special teams play, aside from one missed field goal (which could have wound up being costly). It included a second quarter punt being downed at the 1 (prior to Carr's TD pass), and a questionable call for a fake punt on forth and 11 deep inside their own territory that was thwarted by Jordan Taylor and company. Marquette King wound up compounding matters by throwing the ball in frustration at a Broncos player. Another frustration? Oakland was just 2-of-12 on third downs, meaning they're 2-for-23 in their last two games.
But defense was king in Denver, while Oakland hopes their Carr will be up and running next week against the Ravens.