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Rapid Reaction: Lynch attempt flops as Raiders drop Broncos

By: Paul Klee
November 26, 2017 Updated: November 26, 2017 at 5:44 pm
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Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree, center, fights with Denver Broncos nose tackle Domata Peko (94), nose tackle Zach Kerr (92) and cornerback Aqib Talib (21) during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. Crabtree and Talib were ejected. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee offers three observations from Denver's loss at Oakland on Sunday: 

1. The Fight

Who wouldn’t spring for the $99.99 in a pay-per-view battle royale between Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree? The preview arrived Sunday. And it was worth the price of viewership, since the game itself never was going to be. Crabtree started it, and Talib was ready and willing to see it through. One year after Talib yanked a chain from Crabtree’s neck, Crabtree ushered in a brawl that spilled into Denver’s sideline and all but guaranteed the Broncos will be short-handed Sunday at Miami. Expect fines and/or suspensions to come. Crabtree, Talib and Gabe Jackson, a Raiders offensive lineman, were ejected from the game — a mass exodus that hurt the Broncos most. The Raiders were fine without Crabtree, who has averaged only 3.8 catches and 34 receiving yards in five games against Talib’s Broncos. But the Broncos were not fine without Talib, a team captain. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr immediately zeroed in on Talib’s replacement, rookie cornerback Brendan Langley. Langley allowed one passing touchdown and was flagged for defensive holding on another. Smart move, Raiders, getting Talib ejected early.

2. Move the Raiders already

Oakland remains a dump. It didn’t used to be a dump, but it’s a dump now, and there’s nothing to suggest its overall dump-iness is changing soon. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a fitting centerpiece for the dump. Prior to kickoff, a Raiders employee announced there was a “dead mouse in the audio-control room.” And thanks to the non-stop rain — or general negligence, take your pick — the playing field itself resembled a driving range after the local member-guest tournament. Players struggled to gain their footing. The 2019 season can’t come soon enough for the entire AFC West, including the Raiders. That’s when the Raiders move the franchise to a city that’s not crumbling from its foundation on up — Las Vegas. The Raiders moving out of Oakland is the best move the NFL’s made since it moved the Rams out of St. Louis. Hey, here’s a thought: If your city’s not a dump, maybe you won’t lose your NFL team? We’re on to Vegas. Can't come soon enough.

3. Paxton Lynch = not the answer

Two Broncos coaching staffs — and everything I've written since the 2016 draft — weren't wrong. Trevor Siemian was always the best choice as quarterback of the Broncos. At least with Siemian — or Brock Osweiler, for that matter — the Broncos had a puncher's chance at Oakland. But not with Paxton Lynch, the great unknown about whom it's now known: he can't play. Throughout the week leading into this rivalry game, Broncos coaches reiterated they would "simplify" the gameplan to fit Lynch. So I'll put it simply here: if the Broncos wish to win another game this season, Lynch should never leave the inactive list. If the Broncos wish to score a top-five draft pick, he should never miss a snap. Simple enough? Lynch's first half was a sight for closed eyes: two first downs, four three-and-outs, five punts, one interception and zero points. His passer rating was 16.7. The entire episode reminded of a Tim Tebow offense — without the possibility of a ridiculous comeback in the fourth quarter. Gary Kubiak's no dummy. The ex-quarterbacks on the current staff — Vance Joseph, Bill Musgrave among them — are no dummies. Given their options, Siemian was always the best choice for the Broncos. But the quarterback of the future isn't in the building. It's not Lynch, who was lost before, during and after he left the game due to an ankle injury, according to the team, in the third quarter. The formula now is simple, too: Do the Broncos want a win... or a top-five draft pick?

—Paul Klee

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