I don’t care if it was against Denver. I don’t care if it was in a driving rainstorm. I don’t care that they were overshadowed by Tom Brady. I only care about one thing. It was opening night and the Raiders won… on a Monday night no less.
Behind another great game from Darren McFadden and a truly special game from the Special Teams unit, the Raiders beat Denver 23-20 in Denver.
McFadden ran for 165 yards in last year’s complete trashing of the Broncos 59-14. Last night, he came close to duplicating that effort, going for a buck-50 on 22 carries, including a 47-yard effort in the 4th that brought the Raiders down to the 1-yard line. From there, quarterback Jason Campbell snuck it in to make it 23-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Up to that moment, the Raiders offense hadn’t done a whole bunch. There first touchdown was set up by a tipped punt. That’s the official description, as the ball ended up 4 yards in front of the line of scrimmage, but make no mistake about it, Darryl Blackstock blocked it, and the Raiders were in business. Down 3-0, Campbell found Marcell Reece from 3 yards out, and the Raiders lead 7-3 in the 2nd quarter.
Thanks to the foot of Sebastian Janikowski, they would never trail again. The veteran kicker booted 3 field goals in the quarter, including an NFL-tying 63-yarder as the half ended. It was a low, line-drive kick that just snuck through, sending a jubilant Raiders squad to the locker room up 16-3.
3rd quarter, and the Broncos pulled off a special moment of their own, when Eric Decker returned a Shane Lechler punt 90 yards for a score to cut the Raiders lead to 16-10. In the 4th quarter, up 23-13, Lechler punted again, but this time booted a 77-yard punt into the end zone, tying the longest punt in Raiders history set 50 years ago. More importantly, it kept the ball out of Decker’s hands.
After a touchdown by Denver cut the lead to 23-20 with just under 4 minutes left, the Raiders got the ball back and behind Michael Bush, ran the ball and ran out the clock.
A nice way to start the season. You might even call it special.