NFL

Khalil Mack leads Raiders to shocking upset at Mile High

macksack

The Raiders pulled off a huge upset over the Broncos, in Denver.

There’s no way anyone thought I’d be writing that after watching the first half of the game between these two division rivals. The Raiders were coming off of a devastating loss to the Chiefs and, in the first half, it looked like there was going to be a big-time hangover from that game.

The Raiders trailed 12-0 at halftime and their offense had a grand total of -12 yards(!), with their only first down coming as the result of a penalty. Luckily for Derek Carr and crew, the defense came to play and kept Denver out of the end zone. With how things went on offense in the first half, a two-score deficit seemed like a gift from above.

The problem was, you expected the Raiders to drop that gift like Darius Heyward-Bey when he was wide open while wearing silver and black.

Whatever Jack Del Rio and his coaching staff said to their players during the intermission, it must’ve been gold. The Raiders came out in the second half and scored on their first possession and set the tempo for a completely different second half.

In the first half, it seemed like nothing could go the Raiders’ way. Not only were the Broncos playing better, but it was like Lady Luck was doing her best to pour salt on the wound. In the second half, she turned her scorn towards the Broncos in a big way, as she threw fumbles, dropped passes, a muffed punt and even a safety their way.

The only thing that did not get turned completely on its head in the second half was how the defense played. In the first half, the Raiders played well enough to keep the offense in the game. In the second half, they played well enough to win the game. And they did so behind Khalil Mack, who had the breakout game all of his detractors have been waiting for: five sacks and the aforementioned safety. Mack now leads the league in sacks with 14, and he even had a reception in this game.

That’s more than one could say for Vernon Davis, who dropped this pass on 4th-and-5 after blinking quite a bit a couple minutes earlier.

This, despite a crazy scene after Carr threw what would end up being the game-winning touchdown to Mychal Rivera. The Raiders led 15-12, and they went for two. It was a move that drove everyone batty, although Del Rio had a reason — long snapper Jon Condo had an injury of some sort, which caused Del Rio to feel more comfortable running a regular play with his starting center instead of forcing Condo to snap for an extra point while hurt or sending an emergency long snapper out there. He would later use Condo to snap for a 43-yard field goal try that Sebastian Janikowski missed wide left, which added further drama to an interesting yet weird fourth quarter.

The Raiders still need quite a bit more magic to make the playoffs, but this was the kind of win that makes the season feel a whole lot better than it did before today’s game began. They ended a streak of losses to the Broncos dating back to 2011 and made it a lot harder for them to win the number one seed in the AFC.

The Raiders still have three tough games ahead of them (home vs. GB and SD before traveling to KC). But after this win, you at least feel like they have a chance of winning those games. And they probably planted a seed of doubt in Denver’s mind in terms of their big question heading into the playoffs: Osweiler or Peyton Manning?

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