DENVER – A defensive stand allowed the Denver Broncos to complete their unlikely fourth-quarter comeback.
Denver’s defense forced a late punt and quarterback Case Keenum led the last-ditch drive ending in Brandon McManus’ 36-yard field goal with six seconds left to play as the Broncos edged the Oakland Raiders 20-19 Sunday.
“Anytime you have a game where you drive in the fourth quarter, it feels pretty awesome,” Keenum said. “We just kept fighting. They are all fighters in that locker room. We just want it bad. We want it for each other. We want it for the fans. We want it for the team.”
The Broncos’ defense made it possible by getting a critical stop and putting the game in the hands of their offense with just under two minutes remaining. Shaquil Barrett’s block of a Raiders’ extra-point try earlier in the game also figured in creating the conditions for Denver’s comeback.
“We were just trying to get off the field,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller said. “They had been doing a great job of running the ball and following it with play-action passes and quick passes. So we just wanted to get off the field and we were able to do it.”
Keenum threw for 222 yards, completing 19 of 35 passes and ran for a key touchdown in the fourth quarter. Rookie running back Phillip Lindsay led the Broncos running attack, rushing for 107 yards.
In keeping the Raiders (0-2) winless, the Broncos overcame a sterling performance by quarterback Derek Carr, who completed 29 of 32 throws for 288 yards. Still, the offense stalled with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously, you want to end with the ball in your hands,” Carr said. “You want to end taking a knee. You wanted to waste their timeouts and, 'Hey, let's get that first down.' I still thought we moved the ball decently and took some time off the clock to help the defense and then the last play they just brought a pressure and we had to throw it hot to Martavis (Bryant). We were one missed tackle away from the game really being over. That's how close this game is.”
The game was played in broiling conditions. The kickoff temperature of 92 degrees marked the hottest home game in team history.
Down by nine going into the fourth quarter, the Broncos pulled to within 19-17 with 5:58 to play on a 1-yard touchdown run by Keenum. He dove into the end zone on a quarterback draw, spreading out the Raiders’ defense just enough to squeeze through a pair of goal-line defenders.
The Raiders converted a couple of first downs and had moved the ball to near midfield, where they faced a 3rd-and-8 . Under pressure, Carr quickly got a pass off to Bryant, who was brought down by cornerback Bradley Roby well short of the first down.
After the punt, Denver took possession at its 20-yard line with 1:58 remaining. The Broncos got out of 2nd-and-20 hole from their 10 with a 21-yard completion to Emmanuel Sanders. Moments later, facing a 2nd-and-10 at the Raiders’ 44, Keenum hit Tim Patrick with a short pass on the left side and the wide receiver turned it into a 26-yard gain to the Raiders’ 18-yard line, going out of bounds to stop the clock with just a few seconds to spare.
McManus came on to drill the winning field goal for the Broncos (2-0).
“Tim and Case made it easy for me and I can’t thank my guys enough for blocking and protecting me,” McManus said.
Denver’s offense got untracked in the third quarter, with Keenum guiding the Broncos on a 75-yard march that rookie running back Royce Freeman capped with a 1-yard touchdown run, narrowing Oakland’s lead to 12-7 with 9:06 remaining in the third quarter. The Broncos’ drive was aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Raiders defensive end Bruce Irvin and came after replay review reversed the call of a 4-yard touchdown catch by Patrick, who bobbled the ball slightly as he hit the ground.
The Raiders answered with a 75-yard drive of their own, rebuilding their lead to 19-7 when Carr connected on a 20-yard scoring pass to Seth Roberts with 5:25 remaining in the third.
Denver fought back to within 19-10 on McManus’ 39-yard field late in the third quarter. The Broncos settled for the field goal after their challenge of an incompletion in the end zone was rejected by replay review, which determined that rookie wide receiver Courtland Sutton had one foot out of bounds when he made the catch.
Marshawn Lynch’s short touchdown run and a pair of Mike Nugent field goals put the Raiders up 12-0 at halftime _ Barrett broke through the middle to block the extra point attempt that followed the only touchdown of the first half.
Nugent finished Oakland’s initial possession with a 26-yard field goal and its first of the second quarter with a 46-yarder.
The Raiders’ initial touchdown drive gained traction with a 20-yard completion from Carr to tight end Jared Cook and was extended on a third-down defensive holding penalty on cornerback Adam Jones, negating an incompletion. Another 20-yard completion to Cook got the Raiders within striking distance and Lynch carried twice from inside the 10, breaking into the end zone from a yard out on the second carry.
Denver’s best early offensive sequence followed a 53-yard run by rookie running back Phillip Lindsay, who found daylight on a draw play and advanced the ball to the Oakland 23-yard line. But three plays later, Keenum’s pass intended for tight end Jake Butt was picked off by cornerback Rashaan Melvin near the goal-line when the quarterback tried to thread the ball between two defenders.
Notes: The previous high in temperature for a Broncos regular season home game was 91 degrees. It was recorded on three different occasions, most recently on Sept. 19, 2010, against Seattle. … Broncos tackle Jared Veldheer left the game in the first half with a head injury. He was later ruled out of the game with a concussion. … Tackle A first-quarter sack and forced fumble of the Raiders quarterback by Broncos linebacker Von Miller was negated by a defensive holding penalty by Denver linebacker Todd Davis. … Linebacker Shaquil Barrett’s block of a PAT in the second quarter was the first by the Broncos since safety Justin Simmons also blocked an extra point against New Orleans on Nov. 13, 2016. … Lindsay’s 53-yard run was the longest rushing play by the Broncos’ since running back Justin Forsett had a 64-yard run in the 2016 season finale, also against Oakand.