OAKLAND, Calif. — Dwayne Harris returned a punt 99 yards for a touchdown after Denver failed to down it, and the Raiders gave their fans plenty to celebrate in their possible final game in Oakland, beating the Broncos 27-14 on Monday night.
The Raiders (4-11) are set to move to Las Vegas in 2020 and have no lease for next year. With Oakland officials having sued the team over the move, the Raiders are looking into other options for 2019, including AT&T Park in San Francisco.
A decision is expected before the Super Bowl, but many of the die-hards came out for this game knowing it could be the last NFL game ever in the stadium that opened in 1966.
It has been almost that long since the Broncos (6-9) had gone back-to-back seasons with losing records, having last done it in 1971-72. After going 5-11 in coach Vance Joseph’s first season, Denver has done little better in year two and general manager John Elway could be ready to make a change after the season.
The Broncos opened the month with playoff aspirations, but three straight losses to teams that entered the game with losing records ended those hopes and have the team searching for answers.
Shortly after Oakland native Marshawn Lynch lit the torch in honor of late owner Al Davis before the game, Harris delivered the biggest highlight with a punt return that was tied for the second-longest ever.
Andre Holmes deflected Colby Wadman’s punt just before it crossed the goal line and Isaac Yiadom was in position to down it at the 1. But he couldn’t hold onto the ball and Harris picked it up before racing 99 yards down the sideline for the touchdown that stunned the Broncos. Only Patrick Peterson (99 yards) and Robert Bailey (103) have punt returns that long in NFL history.
The Broncos weren’t much better at the other phases of the game, committing pre-snap penalties, generating almost no consistent offense in the first half and then allowing Doug Martin to scamper 24 yards untouched around the end to make it 14-0 midway through the second quarter.
Martin, who was born in Oakland, finished with 107 yards for his biggest rushing day since 2015.
Case Keenum got the Broncos on the board with a pair of TD passes in the second half to DaeSean Hamilton and Courtland Sutton. But it wasn’t enough as Jalen Richard scored on a 3-yard run for Oakland and the Raiders sealed the win with interceptions by Marcus Gilchrist and Erik Harris.
RED FLAG ALERT
Raiders coach Jon Gruden threw his challenge flag after Keenum’s 19-yard TD pass to Sutton, believing that Keenum crossed the line before the throw. But scoring plays are automatically reviewed and the replay booth confirmed the call without a stoppage. Oakland was charged with a timeout, the second time this season Gruden has tried to challenge a TD.
The Raiders came into the game allowing the most points per game in franchise history since 1961, but gave up nothing in the opening half against the Broncos. It’s the third straight meeting between the teams where Denver failed to score in the opening half. Those are the only times in the past 90 games that Oakland has pitched a first-half shutout.
Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the first half, joining Dominic Rhodes and LaGarrette Blount as the only undrafted rookies to top 1,000 in a season in the Super Bowl era. Lindsay ran for 46 yards before leaving with a hand injury and as has 1,037 on the season. He needs 68 more to break Rhodes’ record set in 2001 for Indianapolis.
Broncos: Host the Chargers on Sunday.
Raiders: Visit the Chiefs on Sunday.