It took Broncos fans all of a few quarters to start the chanting for third-string QB Tim Tebow.
And with that, the John Fox era has begun.
It started Monday night with a rather ugly 23-20 loss to the Raiders, a night complete with a lack of a run defense, and an offense that had a number of mistakes with Kyle Orton being at the forefront of them.
Jason Campbell accounted for two touchdowns for the Raiders, and Sebastian Janikowski matched an NFL record by kicking a 63-yard field goal, helping the Raiders hold off the Broncos with the three-point win.
Campbell completed 13-of-22 passes for 105 yards, while the Broncos couldn’t stop Darren McFadden, who ended with 150 yards on 22 carries. Janikowski added makes of 37 and 21 yards for Oakland.
The Broncos defense gave up 190 yards rushing. “If we don’t stop the run, it’s going to be a long season,” Champ Baily said.
Eric Decker had a punt return for a touchdown for Denver, while Kyle Orton passed for 304 yards and a touchdown. But Orton had an interception and one of two lost fumbles.
“There’s no consolation for close, but I think we’re still optimistic,” Fox said. “We’re just 0-1, like half the teams in our football league.”
The Raiders recorded their first season-opening win since 2002 after holding off the Broncos in the fourth quarter. They’ve also won eight in a row vs. the AFC West.
Leading by 10, Oakland punted near the middle of the fourth to give Denver the ball at its own 20-yard line. The Broncos went backward briefly thanks to a holding penalty, but Orton converted a third down with a 10-yard pass to Willis McGahee.
He used a series of 15-yard completions to help get Denver down the field, and with just under four minutes left, the Broncos faced a third down at the Raiders’ nine. But Orton found Lance Ball for the touchdown, bringing Denver within 23-20.
But the Broncos couldn’t stop Oakland, and they used their final two timeouts before the two-minute warning. The Raiders faced only one third down on the clock-draining drive, and that was on the final play of the game.
The Broncos got on the board after a turnover. Jacoby Ford fumbled deep in Oakland territory, setting Denver up at the 15-yard line. The Broncos couldn’t gain a first down, but Matt Prater came out to kick a 28-yard field goal.
Oakland’s Darryl Blackstock tipped a punt later in the quarter, giving his team the ball at Denver’s 42. The Raiders moved deeper into Broncos territory, and Campbell converted a third down with a seven-yard scramble, giving Oakland a 1st-and-goal at the three.
On the next play, he used a play-fake to get Marcel Reece free on the right side of the field, then hit the running back with an on-target pass for the touchdown.
Denver’s next play from scrimmage resulted in a turnover.
Knowshon Moreno lost control of the ball just before hitting the ground, and though he was initially called down by contact, an Oakland challenge got the ruling reversed.
However, the Raiders couldn’t take advantage of the field position — they took over at the Broncos’ 23 — and settled for a 37-yarder by Janikowski.
After Prater missed a 56-yard try with a little more than four minutes left in the half, Oakland was again in good position, at its own 46. But after moving to the Denver three, the Raiders had to settle for Janikowski’s 21-yarder with 1:27 left in the half.
Orton’s interception in the final minute came back to haunt the Broncos. Matt Giordano picked off the pass at the Oakland 24, and the Raiders moved across midfield to the 45.
After calling timeout with five seconds to play, Janikowski came out and kicked the 63-yarder through the left side of the uprights — with a few feet in distance to spare — giving Oakland a 16-3 lead at the break.
“I just thank the O-line,” Janikowski said. “They put it down, and I just went out there and swung as hard as I could.”
Decker got the Broncos back in the game early in the third quarter. He fielded the punt at the 10 and squeezed through a cluster of players before racing up the right sideline for a touchdown.
Prater’s 30-yarder with 1:55 left in the quarter pulled Denver within 16-13, but an Orton turnover allowed Oakland to expand the lead again.
The quarterback was sacked and fumbled the ball away to the Raiders, who then started a drive at their own 35 and moved downfield in two quick plays. Campbell found Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 17-yard gain before McFadden ran for 47. Campbell plunged in from the one on the next play.
The TD made it a 23-13 game with 12:33 to go.