These are good days for the Oakland Raiders, and that’s not a sentence you could have said very much in the past three decades. We’ll get to the specifics in a bit, but first, check out the dance from Raider punter Marquette King above.
Come on! Punters don’t celebrate like that without a good reason! And oh, are King and the rest of the Raiders riding high right now. The Oakland Raiders are back, believe it or not, and are running all over the AFC West. Sunday night, the Raiders defeated their divisional rival, and defending Super Bowl champion, Denver Broncos by a score of 30-20, and it wasn’t even that close.
For the first time in decades, the most fascinating people to watch at Oakland Coliseum aren’t the freaks in the stands but the players on the field. You throw around the defending Super Bowl champions, you deserve all the acclaim coming your way, and on this night, Oakland’s first primetime slot in a decade, the Raiders came up huge. Behind a stout offensive line, quarterback Derek Carr harassed the vaunted Denver secondary with the kind of poise and confidence that allowed Latavius Murray to score three one-yard touchdowns.
And the Oakland defense, long a hallmark of this once-and-future proud franchise, kept Denver and quarterback Trevor Siemien off balance and out of stride from the start of the game right on through the game-clinching interception. Denver’s offensive game was miserable aside from a nice 69-yard touchdown reception-and-run by somebody named Kapri Bibbs, who had exactly six carries and one reception coming into the game.
Credit to Siemien, though; he was able to exploit holes in the loose Raiders defense and pile up substantial garbage yardage, throwing for 283 yards and two touchdowns. Siemien showed some impressive ability to extend plays and give his receiving corps time to find daylight (well, night light), and that ought to make Denver a threat for the rest of the season. But the hammer dropped on Siemien and the Broncos once and for all with 7:13 remaining, when the Raider rush forced Siemien into a fumble, the game’s first turnover. Denver never seriously threatened after that, and the Raiders could hold the Broncos at arm’s length like a kid who’s finally grown large enough to knock around his older brother.
At 7-2, Oakland now holds sole possession of first place in the AFC West, a division the Raiders haven’t won in 14 years. The Raiders get next week off before they play the Texans in Mexico City in a Monday night showdown. Denver, meanwhile, travels to New Orleans to play the Saints in a must-win game.
The Oakland Raiders are back. And for fans in the silver and black, that’s worth one hell of a dance.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.