Broncos rally past Raiders 20-19 on McManus winner
AP Pro Football Writer
DENVER — Case Keenum already has this fourth-quarter comeback thing down pat.
Nail-biters are almost a prerequisite for a quarterback in Denver, where John Elway set the standard with 31 fourth-quarter comebacks and Peyton Manning added 11 of his league-best 43 while wearing navy and orange.
Keenum, the architect of the “Minnesota Miracle” in the playoffs last year, followed his comeback win in his Denver debut by leading the Broncos to a 20-19 come-from-behind win against Oakland on Sunday.
Brandon McManus kicked a 36-yard field goal just inside the right upright with 6 seconds left, capping a comeback from a 12-point second-half deficit.
“Anytime you have a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, it feels pretty awesome,” Keenum said. “Last week was fun. This week was a lot of fun. They’re all special. And this is an incredible start, my first two games here at Mile High.”
The comeback denied Jon Gruden his first win as a head coach since 2008 — and his first against Denver since 2001.
“It’s a tough loss,” Gruden said after falling to 1-10 against Denver. “Really proud of our team. We had opportunities I think to come out of here with a win. I credit Denver.”
With no timeouts and 18 seconds left, Keenum hit Tim Patrick for a 26-yard gain to the Oakland 18. Cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Leon Hall couldn’t tackle him inbounds and McManus came on to give the Broncos their first lead.
“I knew I had plenty of time to go up the field,” Patrick said. “I just wanted to get as much yardage as I could while getting out of bounds at the same time.”
The Raiders (0-2) lost despite Derek Carr completing 29 of 32 passes for 288 yards and a score four days after Gruden called him out for passing up throws to Amari Cooper in Oakland’s opener.
Cooper caught 10 passes for 116 yards Sunday.
“I don’t think Derek threw an incompletion today,” Keenum marveled. “I never saw the ball hit the ground when he was out there. That’s unbelievable to play quarterback like that.
“But we just kept fighting. We’ve got a lot of fighters in that locker room.”
The Broncos (2-0) trailed 19-7 late in the third quarter before McManus hit a 39-yarder and Keenum scored on a 1-yard keeper on fourth down with 5:58 left.
Denver’s defense held and the Broncos got the ball back at their 20 with 1:58 left. A holding call pushed them back 10 yards but Keenum hit Emmanuel Sanders for 21 yards and Jake Butt for 14.
The Raiders limited the Broncos to just two first downs in the first half. Mike Nugent kicked two field goals and Marshawn Lynch’s 1-yard dive late in the second quarter made it 12-0 but Shaq Barrett blocked the extra point.
“Who knew that would be huge?” Keenum asked.
“I’m mad as hell about that play,” Raiders right tackle Donald Penn said. “But even without that play, we should have closed out that game. We had many opportunities to. We’ve got to find ways to get better.”
Denver’s Philip Lindsay, an undrafted rookie from Aurora, Colorado, who wasn’t even invited to the NFL combine after a stellar career at the University of Colorado, totaled 111 yards from scrimmage. That made him the first undrafted player in league history to eclipse 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first two NFL games.
“I am here to be our spark,” said Lindsay, who was just that with a 53-yard run in the first half.
Von Miller said teammate Todd Davis owes him a steak dinner for costing him his second strip sack of the season. Davis was whistled for holding, negating the strip sack and Domata Peko’s fumble recovery at the Oakland 20.
“I had Derek Carr, it was one of the few plays that he held the ball,” said Miller, who later had a sack that counted . “I was able to get in and get the sack. And the forced fumble. And we recovered it. But we had to go back out because Todd was doing the Viennese waltz with whoever it was out there.”
It was the hottest home game in team history. It was 92 degrees at kickoff, one degree hotter than the old mark set Sept. 19, 2010, against Seattle. To accommodate fans, the Broncos set up several hydration stations throughout the parking lots and encouraged fans to drink lots of water.
Broncos right tackle Jared Veldheer left with a concussion in the second half.
Oakland: The Raiders visit the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Denver: The Broncos hit the road for the first time, visiting Baltimore Sunday.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
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