Instant Replay: Murray runs wild vs Broncos, Raiders take over first place

Instant Replay: Murray runs wild vs Broncos, Raiders take over first place


OAKLAND – Finding flaws in the Raiders’ 6-2 record proved hard to do. They started the season a perfect 5-0 on the road, came from behind to win three times and have a quarterback capable of competing with anyone.

The biggest knock, however, was the Raiders hadn’t beat a big-time team. The rival Denver Broncos are certainly one. The defending Super Bowl champs equaled Oakland’s hot start, setting up a juicy primetime matchup on Sunday night.

This was the biggest game played here in a dozen years and, despite all the hype, the Raiders did not wilt.

The Raiders jumped out to an early lead and never let go, beating the Broncos 30-20 to stand alone atop the AFC West. They head into a bye week 7-2, with as many wins as anyone in the NFL through nine games. Now, without doubt, it can be said the Raiders are a legitimate contender in the AFC.

While the Raiders typically win in dramatic fashion, they were closers this time. They milked the clock, kept the chains moving and never made the big mistake.

Derek Carr is this team’s centerpiece, but the night was won the old fashioned way, with rushing and defense.

The Raiders ran rampant, including strong runs to maintain a second half lead. Latavius Murray paced that effort with 20 carries for 114 yards and three touchdowns.

That kept quarterback Derek Carr out of trouble against the NFL’s best pass defense.

But, with the Broncos inching closer in the fourth quarter, Khalil Mack a huge play. The star Raiders edge rusher sacked and stripped quarterback Trevor Siemian and recovered his own forced fumble to put the Raiders in position to score Murray’s third touchdown of the night.

Reggie Nelson’s interception closed it out with less than two minutes left and the Broncos without a timeout.

It completed a strong showing on a national stage, proving the Raiders are a force to be reckoned with in the AFC.

The second half started slow. A scoreless third quarter and Brandon McManus’ 44-yard field goal to start the fourth trimmed the Raiders lead to 20-13 and set up another tight finish.

The Raiders held their lead well. They worked a field goal out of a 10-play, 58-yard drive that took over six minutes off the clock. That re-established a two score cushion with roughly eight minutes left.

The Raiders started well in all three phases, and jumped out to a 20-10 halftime lead. They started the game with 13 unanswered points thanks to four straight 3-and-outs forced by the Raiders defense.

The Broncos responded with an efficient touchdown drive that ended with a 36-yard pass to Jordan Norwood. That, plus a missed field goal from Sebastian Janikowski, cut the Raiders lead to 13-7.

They expanded it late in the second quarter with a six-play, 75-yard drive helped along by a 42-yard Latavius Murray run and two Denver pass interference penalties in the end zone. Murray closed that drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 25 seconds left.

Denver cut their deficit to 10 as the first half ended, with a 55-yard field goal from Brandon McManus.

The second half was a tight affair, but the Raiders were able to hold off the Broncos for the victory.

Raiders run wild: The Raiders have run the ball well this year, and continued that trend against a Denver run defense ranked No. 24 in the NFL entering Sunday’s action.

Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard were efficient and explosive, with a number of big runs to pace the offense. Murray had a 42-yard scamper that led to his own 1-yard touchdown a few plays later.

Richard found creases up front and Washington created wiggle room as well.

The Raiders finished with 218 yards on 43 carries in this one, the highest total allowed by Denver this year.

Hot defensive start: The Raiders defense kept Denver down early on, with four straight 3-and-outs to start the game. The Silver and Black put pressure on Trevor Siemian, forced some lackluster throws and defensed a few others in the secondary.

The defense helped provide good field position that helped generate a 13-0 lead to start the game.

Sitting it out: Sean Smith hoped to play Denver a week after injuring his shoulder, but Raiders coaches decided against it. The veteran cornerback was ruled inactive, which will give him two additional weeks to get right, with the bye coming next week.

Menelik Watson was active for the first time since Week 3, and played some at right tackle. Austin Howard made the start there.

In addition to Smith, quarterback Connor Cook, cornerback Dexter McDonald, offensive linemen Matt McCants and Vadal Alexander, tight end Ryan O’Malley and defensive tackle Stacy McGee were ruled inactive. McGee was ruled out earlier in the week.

What’s next: The Raiders have their bye week coming up, with a chance to relax and get healthy before a Monday night showdown with Houston in Mexico City.

NFL owners approve Raiders' stadium lease with Oakland Coliseum


NFL owners approve Raiders' stadium lease with Oakland Coliseum

PHOENIX – The NFL formally voted to approve the Raiders' lease agreement at the Oakland Coliseum without resistance at the league owners meetings on Monday.

The Raiders have been virtually locked in to play the 2019 season at Oakland Coliseum for some time. The Oakland Coliseum Authority board approved the one-year lease agreement, which contains a 2020 option, on March 15.

Procedurally, a few more steps remained.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors gave their expected stamp of approval on March 19. The Oakland City Council did the same Thursday. Both votes were unanimous, a predictable turn considering the Coliseum Authority was acting essentially on behalf of those governing bodies, with representatives from each entity.

Those approvals essentially set the Raiders stadium situation prior to their move to Las Vegas in 2020, but the NFL still had to weigh in.

Now, the Raiders' prolonged search for a 2019 home, one that sent the Raiders searching outside the market, is finally complete. They looked far and wide for one after Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL over alleged antitrust violations and breach of contract. The team has filed a motion to dismiss the suit.

Owner Mark Davis didn’t want to play in a city that was suing him – the Raiders at one point abandoned active lease negotiations with the Coliseum Authority -- but struggles to find a proper home proved difficult. The 49ers wouldn’t waive territorial rights to allow a pact formed with the San Francisco Giants to play at Oracle Park.

The Raiders also spoke with the 49ers about playing at Levi’s Stadium, but that was essentially a non-starter considering Davis’ aversion to the Santa Clara venue.

The Silver and Black ended up back at the table with the Coliseum authority, using the same lease terms available before Oakland’s lawsuit was levied.

What followed was a weird story to cover, with far too many incremental updates on a now-finalized lease agreement with concerning hurdles.

[RELATED: Why AB's agent hopes trade sets precedent for NFL players]

Now, the Raiders are set up to transition easily to Las Vegas in 2020 if their new stadium is completed on schedule as expected. The Raiders will pay $7.5 million in rent for nine games this season, a sum that will drop if the Raiders play a preseason game in Canada as previously reported. They would owe $10.5 million if they exercised a 2020 option. The Raiders, however, should be in Las Vegas by then.

The stadium being built just off the Las Vegas Strip has incurred minor delays, but nothing that should divert from its scheduled opening in the 2020 preseason.

Why Drew Rosenhaus hopes Antonio Brown-Raiders trade sets precedent

Why Drew Rosenhaus hopes Antonio Brown-Raiders trade sets precedent

Antonio Brown's agent hopes his client is a trendsetter. 

Despite Brown having three years left on his contract deal and the trade necessitating a massive amount of dead money on their books, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded Brown to the Raiders for just a third- and fifth-round pick. Drew Rosenhaus thinks the deal could set a precedent for players under contract who are unhappy in their current situation. 

“What I hope it does is maybe bring some more balance," Rosenhaus told NBC Sports' Peter King in his Football Morning in America column. "There aren’t many players like Antonio Brown but perhaps—and I’m not suggesting that everybody go out and try to renegotiate their deal or ask for a trade—but I hope it gives players more leverage throughout the league.

"I hope it gives agents more confidence that they can affect something in a way that can make a positive change for their clients. Maybe this is a deal that’s bigger than just one particular contract.”

As Rosenhaus himself notes, Brown is a unique case. He is one of the very best players at his position, catching at least 100 passes for at least 1,200 yards and at least eight touchdowns in each of the past six seasons. Brown made the Pro Bowl in each of those years, and was first-team All-Pro every season from 2014 to 2017. 

Furthermore, his relationship with the Steelers was especially strained. Beginning with his Facebook Live stream from inside the Pittsburgh locker room in 2017 and culminating with his benching in Week 17 last season, it became clear that Brown's relationship with the Steelers was no longer tenable. A player without Brown's pedigree likely wouldn't have had the same leash before the Steelers ultimately decided to part ways. 

[RELATED: Brown takes jab at Bills for false rumors]

Still, Brown's trade definitely represents a departure from business as usual in the NFL. This is an owner-driven and owner-dominated league, where player contracts are not guaranteed and the average career lasts about three years. The Brown saga, frankly, was far more NBA-like. 

If football players begin to have more power like their basketball peers, Brown's trade to the Raiders would mark a clear turning point.