DENVER - 16-15!
This is the way the game ends for the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos.
This is the way the season ends for the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos.
This is the way the series ends for the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos.
Not with a whimper but with a bang.
The conclusion was not as esoteric poet T.S. Eliot would imply. The Broncos and the Raiders weren’t hollow men, empty men, football men just playing it out Sunday. They fought until the bitter and the very end.
With 1 second remaining, Raiders cornerback Nevin Lawson was disqualified for disconcerting unsportsmanlike conduct. How appropriate for the franchise’s push-came-to-shove history in Oakland and Los Angeles.
And in the last flashes, coach Jon Gruden rolled the dice. How appropriate for the franchise’s rambling, gambling future in Las Vegas.
The game was not determined like the 1986 World Cup match by Diego Maradona’s famed “Hand Of God’’ goal.
But the last Oakland-Denver game of 2019 and forever was settled by Shelby Harris’ “Right Hand of Glory’’ thwack.
On Nov. 25, 2018, with only a minute to go, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had the ball at the Broncos’ 2-yard-line with an exceptional opportunity to tie the score with a touchdown and extra point.
Nose tackle Harris, pushed back to the goal line by the Pittsburgh center, was in the perfect position at the righteous time. He intercepted Roethlisberger’s floated fling.
On Dec. 29, 2019, the Raiders scored with 7 seconds showing in the fourth quarter to slice the Broncos’ advantage to a measly point. A kick conversion would propel the acrimonious rivals for 60 seasons into an overtime. How appropriate.
However, Gruden rejected the tie, choosing to go for two from the 2. Quarterback Derek Carr quickly decided on a receiver.
It was a Renfrow Throw.
But directly in the Derek-Hunter line of flight jumped — Guess Who? — Shelby Harris to knock down the ball and knock out the Raiders.
Harris the Hero. Again.
Harris, who was drafted in the seventh round by these Raiders in 2014. Harris, who has spent much of the six seasons in the league on practice squads, the bench and the sofa. Harris, who made $43,000 one year and $13,000 the next and had never earned more than $705,000 until getting a one-year, $3.055 million contract from the Broncos for this season. Harris, who said recently he hopes finally to receive a big number and a long-term deal after being a full-time starter. Harris, who led the NFL in pass deflections in ’19 with seven, then added another against the Raiders earlier in the game.
Then, The Impeccable Ricochet.
Both the Broncos and the Raiders wind up 7-9. How appropriate for teams in hard times, teams that first played in the AFL in 1960, teams that each had the wildest men of all, Lyle Alzado and Bill Romanowski, and unbelievable games featuring everything from a chain ripped from a neck to “It’s all over fat man’’ to late owners who despised each to Mike Shanahan, who was head coach of each team and once asked a backup quarterback to hit Raiders owner Al Davis with a pregame pass, a tie in the first Monday night game in Denver, a snowball fight in the stands between a Raiders offensive lineman and Broncos fans, a blocked field goal that allowed the Raiders to win by one and Davis saying before a playoff game that the Broncos "are scared of us.’’
How appropriate that this game had a bit of everything and anything — including a clown running onto the field late and a security guard who grabbed him being carted off, scuffles and personal fouls on the Raiders and the Broncos, including a critical unnecessary penalty on Garett Bolles, and Phillip Lindsay rushing for a 1,000-plus yards for the second season — then almost going back under the plateau on a major yardage loss. Bolles’ mistake led to a rather odd (bad) decision by coach Vic Fangio to go for a 57-yard field goal — missed by Brandon McManus. The Raiders, still barely in the playoff chase Sunday, rallied from a 16-3 deficit, and the Broncos didn’t suffer a comeback victory by the other side for the fifth time this year.
Drew Lock actually became the sideshow while winning his fourth game in five starts. Fangio will be back, and Lock will be his quarterback.
This is the way 2019 ends: 16-15.
The Big Bang was not a theory.
Viva Las Vegas and Denver in 2020!