OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—A season’s worth of frustration came barreling out of Bill Callahan’s mouth after Oakland’s latest mistake-filled defeat when he called the Raiders “the dumbest team in America.”
“If we don’t learn how not to beat ourselves, we won’t win again, and we won’t win for a long time,” Callahan shouted to reporters after his team’s 22-8 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
“We’ve got to be the dumbest team in America in terms of playing the game. I’m highly critical because of the way we give games away—we give ‘em away! Period. It’s embarrassing, and I represent that. And I apologize for that.
“If that’s the best we can do, it’s a sad product.”
The Broncos kept their slim playoff hopes alive, and their bitter division rivals sure made it easy.
Clinton Portis carried 34 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns and the Broncos held Oakland without a touchdown for the first time since the AFC championship game in 2000 against Baltimore.
“I just got into a groove and I just kept wanting the ball,” said Portis, who received the game ball from coach Mike Shanahan. “I didn’t want to give it up to anybody else.”
Denver (7-5) is four games behind Kansas City in the AFC West and trailing four other teams in the postseason race.
All the Broncos really had to overcome was the wet weather—the raucous Raider Nation was subdued for a change.
Aside from a steady rain, the Raiders’ ugly performance may have been the reason for that. What little success Oakland had moving the ball was offset by untimely penalties and other mistakes.
The Raiders weren’t thrilled to learn of Callahan’s comments.
“I’m not ever going to call my teammates dumb,” injured offensive lineman Frank Middleton said. “Since you were a kid, your mama taught you not to call anyone dumb or stupid.”
Said Charles Woodson, one of Callahan’s most vocal critics: “I can’t believe another grown man would call another man dumb.”
After Rick Mirer completed a pass to Jerry Porter midway through the fourth quarter, Denver cornerback Kelly Herndon forced a fumble and the Broncos took over at their 32. The turnover led to Portis’ second TD, a 1-yard run that sealed the win.
The Raiders (3-9) kept Denver’s two other scoring drives alive with penalties.
Sebastian Janikowski kicked field goals of 46 and 48 yards for the Raiders, who lost both meetings to the Broncos after winning both during their Super Bowl season a year ago.
The Broncos were desperate to bounce back from an embarrassing 19-10 home loss to Chicago and received a more consistent defensive effort. Denver held the Bears to 217 yards and still lost.
“We weren’t very pretty out there, but we got things done,” Shanahan said. “Last week, we were pretty, but didn’t get the win.”
The Raiders were penalized 11 times for 89 yards and lost three fumbles. Neither team gained more than 300 yards.
This game had its share of quirks, and the score at times resembled a baseball game.
Janikowski’s first field goal made it 5-0.
After Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey was touched by Oakland linebacker Eric Barton early in the second, McCaffrey jumped up and made an acrobatic dive into the end zone, then hopped up and signaled a touchdown. One referee initially called a score, but McCaffrey was ruled down at the 8 for a 9-yard gain.
Shannon Sharpe caught a 4-yard TD pass from Plummer moments later. Earlier in the drive, Barton deflected a pass by Plummer intended for Sharpe along the left sideline, but the ball barely missed landing in Sharpe’s hands.
On the very next play—third-and-13—Barton was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty when he put a late hit on Plummer out of bounds, keeping Denver’s drive alive.
Barton agreed with Callahan’s assessment of his team’s smarts, saying, “He’s probably right.”
Janikowski’s second field goal made it 8-7.
Santiago had his second blocked punt of the season. He also had one in the Raiders’ Monday night loss at Denver. … Oakland got its first safety since Sept. 3, 2000 vs. San Diego. … Jerry Rice extended his NFL record to 268 straight games with a catch.