Notes from the first quarter of a Sunday-night duel in Denver:
6:19 p.m. MDT: Coin toss: Oakland calls heads and loses. The Broncos will receive the kickoff and move from north to south to open the game.
6:20 p.m. MDT: The orange pom-poms — or “shakers,” if you’re a guy who can’t fathom waving a pom-pom — always look splendid here at the home stadium. Gives the stands that Saturday-in-Tuscaloosa feel.
6:21 p.m. MDT: Once again, the Broncos’ offensive linemen are not shown speaking during the pre-game introductions. Seconds later, the Broncos offense is muted for a loss of two yards on the game’s first play.
6:23 p.m. MDT: Two plays later, the Broncos — and the sellout crowd — gets loud after Jake Plummer finds Bell, who breaks a tackle attempt from Oakland rookie Thomas Howard to turn a 4-yard, third-and-6 pass into a 16-yard, drive-reviving gain.
6:26 p.m. MDT: Third-and-9 from the Denver 41; Mike Bell for Tatum Bell, but it’s Plummer who is involved with the play, scrambling up the middle for an 11-yard gain. Tatum Bell is not being treated for anything on the sidelines, but Mike Bell remains in for the next play — which sees him carry to the left side for 2 yards.
6:27 p.m. MDT: Kyle Johnson appears to be in serious pain as he hobbles to the sideline. He takes a seat on the bench, where Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos begins looking him over.
6:28 p.m. MDT: As Paul Ernster lofts a 27-yard punt that Chris Carr fair-catches, Johnson arises from the bench and begins jogging around.
6:29 p.m. MDT: Standard starting defense for the Broncos, who open in their base alignment.
6:30 p.m. MDT: I’m disappointed to hear Al Michaels report that the famed “Malibu” Kelly Hayes lives in Aspen. Someone with a nickname like that should at least live near a beach somewhere, even if it’s not in Southern California.
6:32 p.m. MDT: Defensive player introductions … Kenard Lang speaks of his alma mater as simply “The U,” that is, of course, the University of Miami … Ebenezer Ekuban simply says, “Carolina,” Not “North Carolina.” Spoken like true, dyed-in-the-wool, Tar Heel-born-and-Tar Heel-bred North Carolinians who refuse to acknowledge the state to the south exists.
6:35 p.m. MDT: Elvis Dumervil’s first sack — in a third-and-15 situation — is wiped out by a costly illegal-hands-to-the-face infraction on Gerard Warren, giving Oakland a first down at their 37. (POSTSCRIPT — DUMERVIL WAS CREDITED WITH THE SACK, THOUGH THE PENALTY STOOD.)
6:37 p.m. MDT: A long-yardage defensive front even though it’s third-and-2, with Dumervil and Patrick Chukwurah lining up at left and right ends, respectively. After Robert Gallery’s false-start penalty, they stay in, but Oakland keeps the drive alive when Andrew Walter finds Lamont Jordan for a 16-yard pickup.
6:45 p.m. MDT: The crowd held its breath for a second as Walter flung a pass downfield for Randy Moss in the end zone, but John Lynch collided with Moss in mid-air, sending the ball flying and safely incomplete. A play later, Sebastian Janikowski misses wide right from 54 yards away, and the Broncos finally get the football back after Oakland gobbled up 7:50 on its first drive of the night.
6:48 p.m. MDT: The classic Broncos play — playfake to one side, bootleg to the other and go deep. Variations on this play have been a stable in Denver’s playbook for over a decade. This one goes for 54 yards, as Javon Walker beat Nnamdi Asomugha for the ball. Denver, still looking for its initial first-quarter points of the season, now has two yards to traverse and 42 seconds in which to do it to keep that statistic from lingering for another week.
6:50 p.m. MDT: Goodbye, bad stat. Hello, touchdown.
6:53 p.m. MDT: Paul Ernster’s first kickoff as the Broncos’ clear-cut kickoff man sails 78 yards for a touchback.
Tags: Oakland Raiders