Denver Coach Wade Phillips tried his best to explain how the Broncos did nearly everything they wanted to do against the Raiders, but still lost Sunday's game.
"We wanted to get off to a good start by mixing things up on offense," said Phillips, whose team built a 27-10 lead late in the first half and a 30-13 lead early in the third quarter.
"We wanted to protect our quarterback (John Elway)," and the Broncos did not give up a sack after allowing seven in losing to the Raiders in October.
"We wanted to stop their running game and force them into passing situations," and Denver gave up only 94 yards on the ground and forced Raider quarterback Jeff Hostetler to throw 41 times.
"Then, once the game went into overtime and we won the toss, we wanted to maintain possession and work the ball down the field," and the Broncos drove 52 yards in six plays to the Raider 22 to start the overtime period.
So, how \o7 did\f7 the Broncos lose? "Basically, two plays killed us," Phillips said. "We didn't make the play on the last play of the game and then we didn't make the field goal when we had a chance to win the game in overtime."
In a game featuring many big plays, the two Phillips emphasized kept the Raiders' season alive and killed the Broncos' chances of opening the playoffs next week at Denver's Mile High Stadium.
The first one came with eight seconds left in regulation when Hostetler completed a touchdown pass to Alexander Wright over fallen Denver cornerback Charles Dimry to tie the score, 30-30. "If I could have made that play, obviously the game would have been different and we would have won," said Dimry, a seventh-year veteran from Nevada Las Vegas.
The next one came after two big overtime pass completions from Elway to Cedric Tillman that helped put the Broncos in position for a 40-yard field goal by rookie Jason Elam, who already had made three Sunday.
With a chance to complete a perfect day, Elam's kick sailed wide left, setting up the Raiders' game-winning drive.
"I thought that I had hit it pretty good like I did on my other three attempts," said Elam, who had field goals of 52, 27 and 24 yards. "Then, I looked up and it went over to the left. I feel like I let everybody down. It was a very makeable field goal and I missed it."
Elam's miss gave the Raiders another chance, and they took advantage of it. They drove 49 yards in eight plays to the Denver 29, then Jeff Jaeger kicked his fourth field goal to win it.
It was nothing new to the Broncos. Jaeger also made a game-winning field goal to beat Denver in October.
"Jaeger beat us again," Phillips lamented.
As a reward for blowing this one, the Broncos get a return trip to the Coliseum on Sunday to play the Raiders in the first round of the playoffs.
"I think it's great that we get to play them again," Phillips said. "I think that our whole team knows that we can beat them. But this time we'll know that we have to stop their passing game with Tim Brown and Hostetler. Brown just killed us today by making the big catches when they needed them."
Brown caught 11 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns, and helped keep the Raiders close when it looked as if it would turn into a Denver rout. He caught three passes for first downs on the Raiders' 70-yard drive that sent it into overtime.
"To be honest, I didn't think they could drive on us and score," Phillips said. "They made every play they needed to make."
Denver (9-7) lost two games against the Raiders by a total of six points and has not won at the Coliseum since 1987. Next week, the Broncos will try again.
"Things will be different next week," defensive back Tyrone Braxton said. "Just get your tickets."