15:00: The captains are at midfield, and the Raiders will make the call. They call tails. It’s tails. Oakland has elected to receive, and we’re seconds away from game time.
14:56: Vernon Fox lays a big hit on Justin Miller, the Oakland returner, at the 19-yard line and the defense heads out onto the field.
The starters on defense are Ebenezer Ekuban, Dewayne Robertson, Marcus Thomas and Elvis Dumervil on the line, Wesley Woodyard, Spencer Larsen and Jamie Winborn at linebacker, Josh Bell and Dre’ Bly at cornerback and Marquand Manuel and Roderick Rogers at safety.
Rogers is starting in place of the inactive Marlon McCree.
14:21: Justin Fargas takes the first down run for two yards, then follows that up with a two-yard carry on second down. On third-and-6, JaMarcus Russell finds Zach Miller for three yards and the Raiders are forced to punt.
12:54: Eddie Royal fields the punt and takes it one yard as the offense heads onto the field for the first Denver drive.
The starters on offense are Jay Cutler at quarterback, Tatum Bell at running back and Peyton Hillis at fullback, Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal at the wide receiver spots, Daniel Graham at tight end and Ryan Clady, Ben Hamilton, Casey Wiegmann, Chris Kuper and Ryan Harris on the offensive line.
So Hillis will be blocking for Bell to start the game.
12:36: Hillis actually takes the first carry of the game for the Broncos for a loss of four yards. After an incomplete pass on second down, the Broncos are faced with a third-and-14 at their own 12-yard line.
12:21: Hillis takes a quick Jay Cutler pass and finds space, scampering ahead for 16 yards and a first down. He motions for a first down as the refs move the chains.
11:39: On first down, Hillis takes a handoff up the left side for eight yards, then follows it up with a three-yard run on second down to set up another first.
10:10: After a false start penalty, Cutler takes the snap in the shotgun formation and almost finds Hillis for another first down, but the pass falls incomplete. Former Bronco Gerard Warren is flagged for roughing the passer, however — 15 yards and another first down for the Broncos.
9:14: Tatum Bell takes his first carry of the game for two yards on first down, and Cutler follows that up by finding Brandon Stokley near the sideline for a nine-yard gain and a first down.
The Broncos are now on the Oakland 40-yard line. Bell takes the carry on first down and finds a little space up the right side for two yards. On second-and-8 Hillis takes another carry and bulls his way up the middle and through a couple tacklers, picking up five yards.
7:40: Cutler takes a quick drop and bullets a pass to Royal up the middle just past the marker — it’s a six-yard gain and another first down at the 28-yard line.
On first down Cutler gets the ball to Marshall on a bubble screen — he has blockers ahead of him — he’s cleared in the first place on a great diving block by Ryan Clady — and he picks up 21 yards. It’s now first-and-goal for the Broncos.
6:13: On first down from the seven-yard line, Cutler tries to make a hand off to Hillis, but the ball is fumbled. Clady makes the tackle at the five-yard line. The play is officially credited as a zero-yard run by Cutler and a fumble.
The defense has the crowd fired up, but it’s a TV timeout so INVESCO is quiet for now. But as soon as the refs signal for time to start again, the Broncos faithful are on their feet, making noise to try to help out the defense.
On first down, Dewayne Robertson makes the stop on Justin Fargas after a gain of only two.
Second-and-8 for the Raiders, and Russell drops back to pass. He finds tight end Tony Stewart, but Stewart is drilled by Wesley Woodyard before the first down. Third-and-3 at the 12-yard line.
4:54: Out of the shotgun, Russell finds Ashley Lelie — another former Bronco — for the first down.
3:41: An illegal formation penalty on the Raiders makes it second-and-10 from their own 34. Fargas gains eight yards on the play. It’s third-and-2 and the crowd is fired up. Jamie Winborn blows into the backfield and hits Fargas behind the line for a loss of one on the play.
It’s fourth-and-2 and Shane Lechler is out to punt with Royal back deep to receive. He lets the ball fly over his head and out of the back of the endzone. The offense will take over at the 20-yard line.
2:00: The offense is on the field ready to start another drive. Cutler fakes a handoff to Bell and it looks like he’s going to be sacked from behind, but he sprints up in the pocket, avoids the rush and launches a pass downfield to Daniel Graham, but the pass is just off his finger tips. Second-and-10.
On second down, Hillis takes the carry for six yards. It’s third-and-4 and Cutler is in the shotgun. He takes the snap, drops back quickly and finds Stokley as he rolls right in the pocket.
First down, Broncos.
0:35: Cutler fakes another handoff, rolls right and launches a pass downfield to Darrell Jackson. Jackson makes the catch, and it looks like he’s down but no Oakland player touched him. He gets up and sprints toward the opposite sideline and toward the endzone — but he’s brought down at the four-yard line. It’s a huge play for the offense — it looked like Cutler was looking for a quick pass but a receiver fell down on a short route.
That’s the end of the first quarter.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com