Dec 14, 2015 3:24 PM
Raiders luck out when McManus misses field goal
The Associated Press
DENVER (AP) Jack Del Rio's decision to go for 2 was more of a no-brainer than a head-scratcher.
It initially looked like one of the strangest coaching decisions of the year when the Raiders went for 2 following a touchdown that put them ahead by three against the Broncos in the fourth quarter Sunday.
But Del Rio really had no choice at all.
Long snapper Jon Condo had injured his right shoulder while recovering a fumbled punt moments earlier in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 15-12 victory. Condo's backup, tight end Lee Smith, had a cast on his snapping hand.
When Derek Carr threw incomplete, the Broncos needed only a field goal to tie, but Brandon McManus's hook let the Raiders off the hook minutes later. After nailing all four of his field goals in the first half, he clanked a 49-yarder into the south end zone high off the left upright.
"Things like that come up during the game," Del Rio said, "and you made a snap judgment."
The Broncos failed to make the Raiders pay by missing the field goal and several of Brock Osweiler's passes. The bumbling offense ended up wasting a historically great first half by Denver's defense, which allowed minus-12 yards.
That's the best effort heading into halftime by any defense in nearly a quarter century, but Del Rio walked away a winner in his homecoming despite Oakland's 126 yards of offense.
By halting their eight-game losing streak to their AFC West rivals, the Raiders (6-7) kept alive their playoff hopes while knocking the Broncos (10-3) out of the top spot and behind nemesis New England in the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
There were plenty of other calls open to second-guessing in Week 14:
SACK ATTACK: Before Sunday's sack-fest came Dwight Freeney's takedown of Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater on Thursday night that clinched a playoff spot for Arizona (11-2) and sent Minnesota (8-5) tumbling behind Green Bay in the NFC North.
The Vikings were already well within range for a game-tying field goal when offensive coordinator Norv Turner called for a pass play to get some more yards. But on third-and-10 from the Cardinals 31 and 18 seconds remaining, Bridgewater, who had thrown for a career-high 335 yards, held onto the ball for too long.
Freeney knocked it loose and Arizona's Calais Campbell recovered with 5 seconds left as the Cardinals escaped with a 23-20 win.
"That's why I came back, because moments like this, you can't duplicate those in life," said Freeney, 35, who signed with Arizona in mid-October and earned every penny of his $684,705 base salary for 2015 on that one play.
CHOPPY OFFICIATING: Matthew Stafford's 36-yard pass to Golden Tate to the Rams 8 late in the first quarter of their 21-14 loss at St. Louis was negated by a chop block on Lions running back Theo Riddick. The Lions lost 51 yards on the play and penalty and later punted.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell sought out an explanation from the officials, explaining, "I am not Earl Weaver when it comes to the rules, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what the rules are and I just wanted to make sure I got a clear explanation of what they saw."
He wasn't swayed.
"No," Caldwell said, he didn't think it was a chop block. "But that (opinion) doesn't count."
The Rams disagreed with an offensive holding call on Cody Davis that wiped out Tavon Austin's 83-yard punt return for a touchdown.
"Guys were disappointed and no one saw a hold," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.
"Everybody was upset," Rams QB Case Keenum added. "I thought, 'Heck, screw it. Let's go. Let's go 90 yards or whatever it is.'"
Ninety-one actually. And Todd Gurley's 15-yard scamper gave the Rams a two-TD lead in the fourth quarter.
RADIO S.O.S.: The New York Jets broke things open in their 30-8 victory over the Tennessee Titans late in the second quarter thanks to technology hiccups and some quick thinking by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
After a punt gave the Jets the ball at their 31, New York broke its huddle and headed to the line and noticed the Titans were confused. Fitzpatrick saw that no one was covering Brandon Marshall, so he moved in from the shotgun and called for a quick snap from Nick Mangold. He zipped a pass to Marshall, who took off down the sideline, stiff-armed a would-be tackler and tip-toed the sideline all the way into the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown and a 27-0 lead.
"I went up there, sped up the count, got under center," Fitzpatrick said, "so it could have been a disaster before it started just with Nick (potentially) still snapping it as a shotgun snap."
It turned out, the Titans' headsets went out before the play leading to the confusion.
"There was no communication to upstairs or to the linebackers," Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey said. "So again, not an excuse but we had no communication to the field or upstairs. And that doesn't give us any reason not to still cover an uncovered receiver. So there was no call. We had no defensive call in. We were waiting on the call."
CRUMBLING CHARGERS: San Diego trailed Kansas City 10-3 when the Chargers got the ball with 5 minutes left at their 11 and converted three fourth downs. After Philip Rivers was called for delay of game at the Chiefs 1 with 5 seconds left, he threw high and out of the end zone.
There was still 2 seconds remaining, and another incomplete pass that would have ended the game was blown dead for a false start on tackle Chris Hairston.
With the ball pushed back to the 11-yard line, Rivers' pass to Danny Woodhead in the end zone skipped incomplete, leaving the Chiefs (8-5) with their seventh straight win and the Chargers at 3-10.
"This is the story of our season," Rivers said, "losing close games."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
AP Sports Writers Bob Baum, Dennis Waszak, Dave Skretta and R.B. Fallstrom contributed.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton