Broncos scrape through in overtime

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The Independent Online

One play after Trevor Pryce forced a fumble, Olandis Gary ran 24 yards for a touchdown, lifting the Denver Broncos to a 27-21 overtime win over the Oakland Raiders in Denver on Monday night.

One play after Trevor Pryce forced a fumble, Olandis Gary ran 24 yards for a touchdown, lifting the Denver Broncos to a 27-21 overtime win over the Oakland Raiders in Denver on Monday night.

Pryce sacked Rich Gannon, forcing a fumble and recovering it at the Raider 24, and on the next play Gary bolted off the left side for the clinching score 2:40 into the extra period.

Jason Elam kicked two fourth-quarter field goals, including a 53-yarder with seven seconds left, to produce a 21-21 tie.

Darrien Gordon's 25-yard punt return had set up Michael Husted's 44-yard field goal with 1:17 left, giving the Raiders a 21-18 lead.

But the Broncos (4-7) went 36 yards in nine plays, including Brian Griese's 3-yard pass to Rod Smith on fourth-and-1, allowing Elam to force overtime.

Griese replaced starter Chris Miller midway through the final quarter and promptly engineered a 42-yard drive that culminated in Elam's 38-yard field goal with 4:04 left to tie the game at 18.

A questionable pass interference penalty against Oakland's Charles Woodson covering 31 yards was the key play on the drive. The ball appeared to be uncatchable and receiver Ed McCaffrey went to the ground with minimal contact, but got the call anyway.

The Raiders (5-5) overcame a 15-0 second-quarter deficit to take an 18-15 lead, thanks to two touchdown passes from Gannon.

The game was played in 26-degree F (minus 3-degree C) weather and on a field dusted by light snow before the game, the remnants of a storm that dumped nine inches of snow on the Denver area since Sunday night.

The Broncos led 15-7 at halftime but squandered several scoring chances, failing to capitalize after taking possession on three straight series at the Oakland 40, Denver 48 and Denver 40.

They also managed only a field goal after Dale Carter returned an interception to the 9, and they wasted another opportunity when Gary broke several tackles on a short run but fumbled the ball away at the Raider 5.

Barely four minutes into the game, Denver cornerback Ray Crockett popped the ball loose from wide receiver Terry Mickens on a 9-yard pass play, and linebacker Glenn Cadrez picked the ball out of the air and returned it 37 yards to the Oakland 21.

Miller scrambled 10 yards to the 1, and fullback Howard Griffith plunged the final yard with 8:00 left in the opening period.

Denver scored again on its second possession when Elam kicked a 30-yard field goal.

Midway through the second quarter, the Raiders were backed up to their 1-yard line after Gannon was sacked on third down. Detron Smith then bulled his way up the middle to block Leo Araguz's punt, and the ball squirted through the end zone for a safety and a 12-0 lead.

Napoleon Kaufman's 47-yard return of the ensuing kickoff ignited a sluggish Oakland offense. Gannon passed 22 yards to tight end Rickey Dudley on third-and-13, and fullback Jon Ritchie turned a short pass in the left flat into a 20-yard TD.

Less than a minute into the second half, the Raiders tied it. Denver's Chris Watson fumbled the kickoff, and Travian Smith recovered at the 14. Gannon passed 12 yards to Dudley for the touchdown, then hit James Jett for the 2-point conversion with 14:04 left in the third period.

The Raiders threatened again on their next series, reaching the Denver 18. But Husted's 37-yard field goal attempt was low and short.

Gannon guided the Raiders 65 yards late in the quarter, including a 22-yard pass to Dudley and 29-yarder to Jeremy Brigham, and Husted kicked a go-ahead 33-yard field goal with 1:26 left in the period.