Janikowski Ties Field Goal Record, Raiders Win Opener
DENVER (CBS / AP) — Sebastian Janikowski tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal and the Oakland Raiders beat the Denver Broncos 23-20 Monday night in a chippy and clumsy game between the AFC West rivals.
“I had a dream I broke the record and it was here in Denver,” Janikowski said. “The ball really carries here.”
The Raiders (1-0) won in Denver for the fourth straight season in coach Hue Jackson’s NFL head coaching debut, and handed the Broncos (0-1) their first loss in a home opener since 2000.
John Fox lost his debut as Denver’s coach, and he lost at least two playmakers in the process.
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Pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil (shoulder) was relegated to situational duty for three quarters, and perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey injured his left knee making a touchdown-saving tackle of Darren McFadden, who ran 22 times for 150 yards.
The Broncos cut the deficit to 23-20 on Kyle Orton’s 9-yard TD toss to Lance Ball with both Brandon Lloyd and Knowshon Moreno on the sideline, apparently with cramps, with 3:43 left.
Other than that, Orton had a tough night. He completed 24 of 46 passes for 304 yards with an interception. As he left the field, fans were chanting, “Tebow! Tebow!” for second-year quarterback Tim Tebow, who had an awful camp and is probably the No. 3 quarterback behind Brady Quinn.
The Raiders salted away the win by controlling the clock and were able to line up in victory formation after Michael Bush’s 12-yard run to midfield for the first down at the 2-minute warning.
“There’s no consolation for close but we’re still optimistic,” Fox said. “We just happen to be 0-1 like half the teams in our football league.”
After a first half filled with fouls, fists and frustration, the Raiders took a 16-3 lead into the locker room in wild celebration as Janikowski’s 63-yard field goal fluttered over the crossbar as time expired.
That tied the mark set by Tom Dempsey in 1970 and matched by Denver’s Jason Elam in 1998 at the old Mile High Stadium.
The Raiders had gotten the ball with just 24 seconds left in the half when safety Matt Giordano intercepted a pass thrown by Orton at the Raiders 24. A 15-yard facemask on Broncos defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, one of 16 fouls committed in the first half— eight by each team—helped Janikowski move into range.
Janikowski’s teammate, punter Shane Lechler, would add a 77-yard punt in the fourth quarter.
But his 57-yard punt in the third was returned 90 yards for a touchdown by Eric Decker. It was the eighth TD on a punt or kickoff return on opening weekend, the most in a single week in NFL history.
Orton drove the Broncos 74 yards in a dozen plays on Denver’s first drive after halftime but once again they stalled in the red zone, this time reaching first-and-goal from the 6 before settling for Matt Prater’s 30-yard field goal that made it 16-13.
Prater was wide right from 56 yards out in the first half.
The Broncos were driving again and reached the Raiders 24 when
Orton had tight end Daniel Fells open going into the end zone. But the ball slipped out of his hand and defensive end Lamarr Houston pounced on it for Oakland.
The Raiders, who committed 15 penalties for 131 yards, quickly capitalized, covering 65 yards in just three plays for the decisive touchdown.
Darrius Heyward-Bey caught a 17-yard pass and McFadden reeled off a 47-yard run before being dragged down just shy of the goal line by Bailey, who left the game with an injured left knee.
Campbell took it in from there on the next snap to give the Raiders a 23-13 lead with 12:33 remaining.
Pass-rusher Von Miller, the second overall pick in the draft, speared the football out of Jacoby Ford’s arms on his first snap as a pro and fellow rookie Rahim Moore, a strong safety, scooped it up at the Raiders 15. But the Broncos had to settle for Prater’s 28-yard field goal.
Darryl Blackstock’s block of Britton Colquitt’s punt led to a 3-yard TD toss from Campbell to Marcel Reece, who trotted into the end zone after Moore failed to follow the fullback into the flat, giving Oakland a 7-3 lead it would never give up.
Knowshon Moreno fumbled two snaps later, and Janikowski split the uprights through a driving rain from 37 yards out for a 10-3 lead. He added chip shot from 21 yards out before his record-tying 63-yarder.
Colquitt’s next punt traveled 65 yards and was downed at the 1, but the Broncos couldn’t turn loose their “Doom and Gloom” pass-rush because Dumervil, in his first game in 21 months, jammed a shoulder in the first quarter and was used only sparingly afterward, replacing Jason Hunter on some passing downs.
Anytime he spoke about reasons for optimism this season, Fox would start the conversation by saying, “Well, we get Elvis Dumervil back.”
Dumervil missed last season with a torn chest muscle after leading the league with 17 sacks in 2009. He moved back to defensive end from outside linebacker this summer and packed on extra muscle, making him more stout against the run with his long arms and built-in leverage.
But he was relegated to watching helplessly from the sideline as McFadden ran roughshod over the Broncos yet again.
The Raiders walloped the Broncos 59-14 in their last visit to Denver, on Oct. 24, when they scored the most points in their history. The Broncos didn’t dwell on the debacle during the week as Fox declared, “This year is 2011. Last year was 2010.”
The result was the same.
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