Through the years they have jumped at the chance to sign each others' players and coaches. Over the years there have been players like Lyle Alzado, Bill Romanowski, Ashlie Lelie, and Javon Walker, not to mention former and future Hall of Fame coach Mike Shannahan. Even now there are Lamont Jordan, Erik Pears, and Gerrard Warren who have all swapped sidelines.
The results have taken this rivalry to a new level. As a matter of fact, if an NFL rivalry is comparable to a candle light vigil, this rivalry brings a flame thrower!
Last Sunday the two teams met once again, and from a grudge match point of view it didn’t disappoint. When they met in Oakland earlier in the year, the Broncos won, handily outscoring the Raiders' anemic offense 23-3.
During the game, however, there was an incident that involved Raiders defensive end Richard Seymour pulling Broncos offensive lineman Ryan Clady’s hair at the end of a play resulting in an unsportsman-like penalty. This became the fuel that re-ignited the fire and revenge was on the minds of the Broncos while the Raiders sought their own revenge for a home loss earlier in the year.
The problem is, revenge is a dish best served cold, but when it is served hot, it’s sloppy…
The Raiders owned the ground while piling up 241 rushing yards and a touchdown, while the Broncos' Kyle Orton attacked through the air with 278 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Ahhh, but just like old times, it wasn’t long before the pushing and the shoving began and by the third quarter Brandon Marshall’s go ahead touchdown celebration took a backseat to a Raider-Bronco Melee that filled the end zone. The officials kept their flags in their pockets through it all, earning the praise of all the fans who watched these teams duke it out through the 70s and 80s.
Another bizarre twist came in the fourth quarter as the game had to be stopped due to one or more fans using laser lights to distract the teams and officials. After what seemed like an eternity, they got their man, or at least someone close by…
As if this game had a lack of storylines, Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly added his own by losing his pants while tackling Knowshon Moreno. The only thing between the viewers and an R rating was his jock strap. Fortunately the camera angle was from the front.
In the end it was the Raiders calling on three unlikely players—one forgotten son, one prodigal son and one scorned son to eventually prevail.
Of the 241 yards rushing Michael Bush had 133 yards and a touchdown. In Week 10 Bush carried for 14 times and 119 yards against the Chiefs, but in the four games since, has only carried eight times for 36 yards. Even with this curious drought, Bush still leads all Raiders in rushing. Before the game against the Broncos, Bush seemed all but forgotten.
Langston Walker was drafted by the Raiders in 2002. Used often as a backup and special teams. He finally had enough after the infamous 2006 campaign where Art Shell had one of the worst offensive lines in NFL history. Walker left for Buffalo.
After being cut, the prodigal Walker returned to Oakland last October, where he was born and raised. He was thrust into the starting left guard spot when Robert Gallery suffered a season-ending back injury and Chris Morris showed he was too inconsistent to be reliable. The results were stellar as Walker opened gaping holes for the running game all day, including the touchdown run by Bush.
Jamarcus Russell has been beat up and scorned in the media. His teammates all but lost faith in him as his struggles on the field and rumors of poor preparation and a lackadaisical attitude swirled. Finally, after no signs of improvement, the league's lowest rated starting quarterback found his way to the bench.
In the fourth quarter, Russell was once again called upon after Frye left the game due to a head injury. A collective groan rose up from Raider Nation as Russell's first play from scrimmage was a sack and a fumble. Raider tackle Cooper Carlisle fell on the ball retaining possession for the Raiders.
The next few plays were classic Bronco-Raider football. There was a pass interference, three incomplete passes, followed by a fourth down conversion, more illegal contact, and ending with a Russell to Chaz Schillens touchdown. The extra point gave the Raiders a 20-19 advantage with 29 seconds left. Russell completed four of five passes, a fourth down conversion, and threw the winning touchdown. His play earned him some relief…for now.
The ensuing possession saw Orton complete a 39-yard pass to Tony Sheffler, but with five seconds and no timeouts, the Broncos couldn’t stop the clock.
The game was over, but it seems this generation are ready to carry on the NFL’s version of the Hatfield and McCoys. What the fans witnessed on Sunday was the awakening of what looks like many more years of back and forth games with controversy and bizarre conclusions. Just like old times…