The 2000 season marked the Raiders’ return to the playoffs for the first time since 1993 and their first appearance in the AFC Championship Game since 1990.
Riding high on a six-game win streak, the Raiders looked to improved to 8-1 on the season and solidify their first place standing in the division against the eventual second place finishing Broncos.
The Raiders held a three-point lead coming out of halftime, but the Broncos answered in resounding fashion with two scores in the third. On a punt attempt by the Raiders, linebacker Ian Gold burst through the Raiders’ protection and blocked Shane Lechler’s attempt and returned it for a score. Of the play, Lechler said, “I had my head down and by the time I made eye contact, he was there.”
Denver scored once more in the third on an 11-yard connection from Brian Griese to Byron Chamberlain to take a 21-10 lead and added another three points in the fourth on a 23-yard field goal by Jason Elam.
But what looked like an easy win for the Broncos was anything but. Behind the arm of Rich Gannon, who had struggled to find any consistency for much of the game, the Raiders drove 51 yards in the fourth to punch it in from the one-yard line on a Zack Crockett run.
The Raiders tied the game on their next offensive possession, this time on an 11-play, 86-yard drive that was culminated by a 22-yard pass from Gannon to Tim Brown.
But for all their late game heroics, the Raiders left the Broncos with too much time. With more than a minute left, Griese, who was playing with a separated clavicle, drove the Broncos offense down to the 24-yard line from where Elam kicked a game winning 41-yard field goal.
After the game, head coach Jon Gruden acknowledged his disappointment for the loss, but gave credit to the Broncos and said of the thrilling conclusion, “It was an exciting game.”