Denver looked poised to take control of Sunday’s game against Las Vegas in the final minute of the first half when Melvin Gordon plunged for first-down yardage and toward the goal line on third-and-1 from the Raiders 3-yard line.
Whether he scored or set the Broncos up with first-and-goal and about 30 seconds left, the home team had a golden chance to take a 17-7 lead on its division rival and also had the ball to start the second half.
Except Maxx Crosby, Vegas’ one-man wrecking crew, punched the ball free from Gordon’s hands. Right guard Quinn Meinerz pounced on it, but then Brandon McManus’ field goal attempt was blocked and the Broncos got no points.
“In that situation, he’s got to be smart with it and he can’t fumble,” head coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “He knows that. You just can’t do that. It’s unacceptable. We’ve got to find a way to get the ball in the end zone.”
Gordon has fumbled five times this season, including an even bigger game-turner against the Raiders the first time around that was returned for a touchdown.
Gordon after the game said his teammates picked him up after he lost this one.
“They were just like, ‘you’re good.’ They were encouraging about it,” he said. “… We still had two quarters left, still had a chance to get points after that, so it wasn’t the end of the world, but of course for me it wasn’t something that I wanted to happen.”
Gordon may not have returned to the game except that Chase Edmonds was lost to an ankle injury and so he and Latavius Murray were the only healthy options remaining.
Gordon saw fewer snaps in the second half, but carried the ball three times and had a pair of catches.
“My share of opportunities kind of dwindled after that, but that’s my fault,” he said .
No shows. The Broncos had a season-high in no-shows but still checked in at around 90% capacity at Empower Field.
Denver announced a crowd of 69,094 and 6,962 no-shows against the Raiders. Last time the team played at home, Oct. 23 against the Jets, those numbers were 70,786 and 5,839, respectively.
Injury report. Edmonds injured his ankle in the first quarter and the Broncos also lost defensive lineman Jonathan Harris to a knee injury early in Sunday’s game.
Edmonds, acquired earlier this month as part of the Bradley Chubb trade, was the second back into the game for Denver behind Melvin Gordon, but played only a handful of snaps before exiting.
He was in the locker room after the game with a pair of crutches and a boot on his right foot.
Browning, others return. Denver saw several players who have missed time and were questionable return to action Sunday.
Outside linebacker Baron Browning (hip) started after missing the past two games and played extensively. Two offensive linemen who were listed as questionable started – Cam Fleming (quad) at right tackle and Graham Glasgow (shoulder) at center. Another, tackle Tom Compton (back), was active for the first time this season after missing the first nine games rehabbing from surgery to address a herniated disc.
Wide receiver Kendall Hinton (shoulder) didn’t practice much this week as part of a management plan but was active and played extensively.
The Broncos inactive list: WR Jerry Jeudy (ankle), WR KJ Hamler (hamstring), TE Andrew Beck (hamstring), CB K’Waun Williams (knee), S Anthony Harris, RB Marlon Mack and DL Eyioma Uwazurike.
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