Trailing the Broncos 9-7 in the fourth quarter, the Raiders had something going.
They had moved from their own 11 to the Denver 35, with Oakland quarterback Derek Carr completing three passes on the drive, the biggest a 21-yarder to Michael Crabtree on which the Broncos also were flagged for roughing the passer.
But just as it appeared the Raiders were poised to take the lead, the game turned on one play.
Carr, on third-and-5, tried to connect with wide receiver Seth Roberts on a crossing pattern. But the ball was slightly off target and Roberts never saw the ball. Denver cornerback Chris Harris caught it cleanly with his momentum going upfield. Harris sprinted through traffic, broke into the clear and returned the ball 74 yards for a touchdown.
Just like that, the Raiders’ bid to beat the Broncos for the first time in eight games disappeared.
Instead, the Raiders dropped the game 16-10, falling to 2-3 on the season. It was their second straight close defeat in a game decided in the fourth quarter, following last week’s narrow loss in Chicago.
The Raiders could be 4-1 heading into their bye week, but instead, it’s just another almost-victory.
Oakland had a promising start, going up 7-3 following a long drive in the second quarter that was capped by Marcel Reece’s 3-yard touchdown catch from Carr.
The Oakland defense was solid, holding Peyton Manning and Co. without a touchdown. The Raiders put pressure on Manning, locked up his wideouts and veteran safety Charles Woodson at 39 became the oldest NFL player to ever have two interceptions in one game.
The Raiders – even though Sebastian Janikowski had one field-goal attempt blocked and another go wide – still were in position to take the lead until Harris’ interception return for a touchdown.
After that Broncos TD, with just under 7 minutes remaining, Oakland was able to come up with a Janikowski field goal to cut the score to 16-10 with about 1:39 remaining, but an Oakland attemped onside kick was secured by Denver. The Broncos now stand 5-0, atop the AFC West.
The Raiders will take a week off before traveling to San Diego to play the Chargers on Sunday, Oct. 25.