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NFL Rewind: Oakland on top in the West after win over Denver

By Milt Northrop

News sports reporter

Two seasons ago the Oakland Raiders were in last place in the AFC West with a 3-13 record.

Sunday, the Silver and Black climbed into sole possession of first place in the division after their 30-13 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

The Raiders’ victory ended a streak of five straight home losses to their division rivals. Oakland owns a halfgame lead over Kansas City in the division and a one-game margin over Denver.

The NFC North is another race that’s changed. Four weeks ago  the undefeated Minnesota Vikings were sitting pretty in first place. After a third straight loss Sunday, in overtime to Detroit, the Vikings’ lead is down to a half-game over the Lions.

A capsule review of Sunday’s Week Nine NFL:

Game of the day

Raiders 30, Broncos 20

The scoop: Latavious Murray ran for xxx yards and three touchdown, all from a yard out, to lead the Raiders who never trailed after Sebastian Janikowski kicked two first quarter field goals. He added a third later. Denver’s Brandon McManus kicked two field goals, including a 55-yarder. The Broncos made it close when Trevor Siemian hooked up with Kapri Bibbs on a 69-yard scoring pass with 5:18 left.

Why the Raiders won: The controlled the ball for almost 40 minutes as they rolled up 30 first downs with a patient offense.

A capsule review of Sunday’s Week Nine games:

The contenders

Lions 22, Vikings 16 (OT)

The scoop: Minnesota struggled to put the ball in the end zone the whole game, but looked safe when tight end Brett Ellison ran over from 1-yard out with 23 seconds left. However, Matthew Stafford took the Lions 35 yards in four plays and Detroit tied the game on a 58-yard Matt Prater field goal on the last play of the regulation. Detroit won the coin flip for overtime and went 87 yards in 11 plays with Stafford passing 28 yards to Golden State to win it. The Lions managed only two field goals by Prater in the second half.
Why the Lions won: In the fourth quarter, the blocked a Minnesota field goal try then held on fourth-and-1 at their 5-yard line.

Ravens 21, Steelers 14

The scoop: Two huge plays, a 95-yard Joe Flacco-to- ex- Steeler Mike Wallace touchdown pass late in the first quarter and Chris Moore's 14-yard return of a blocked punt early in the fourth were enough to win it for Baltimore. It ended a four game Ravens losing streak and was the third loss in a row for the Steelers and left the teams tied at 4-4 for the AFC North lead. Neither team produced much offense -- 277 for Pittsburgh, 274 for Baltimore.
Why the Ravens won: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, coming back from a knee injury, looked rusty and tentative until he directed two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. The Steelers had only two first downs the first three quarters.

Cowboys 35, Browns 10

The scoop: Dallas gave up the game's first score, but soon took charge behind rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, who passed for three touchdowns. It was 21-3 before the Browns scored in the last minute of the first half on a 12-yard pass from rookie Cody Kessler to Terrell Pryor Sr. Rookie Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL's rushing leader, ran 10 and 8 yards for Dallas touchdowns and finished with 92 yards in 18 rushing attempts. Elliott had 891 rushing yards in 177 attempts (5.0 average) and five touchdowns.
Why the Cowboys won: Dallas had to punt only twice in the game while Cleveland couldn't sustain any offense, going 1 for 9 in third down conversions.

Giants 28, Eagles 23

The scoop: Interceptions set up two touchdowns for New York in the first quarter and the Eagles were playing from behind the rest of the way. Eli Manning passed 26 yards to Odell Beckham Jr. and 30 to rookie Roger Lewis for a 14-0 lead in the first 5:17 after Carson Wentz passes were picked off by rookie Andrew Adams and Landon Collins. Manning passed for all four Giants TDs, two to Beckham Jr., giving him 12 TD throws for the season.
Why the Giants won: Besides the two interception, Philadelphia had a field goal blocked and turned the ball over on downs at the Giants' 23, 6 and 17 (with 1:23 left).

The wannabes

Dolphins 27, Jets 23

The scoop: Ryan Fitzpatrick returned to the game after being shaken up and allied the Jets for two scores in the fourth quarter. After New York had taken a 23-20 lead on Fitzpatrick's 18-ayrd pass to rookie Jalin Marshall, Miami rookie Kenyan Drake returned the next kickoff 96 yards to put the Dolphins back in front with 5:15 left. New York went three-and-out on its final possession, punting from the Jets' 25 with 2:54 left. New York outgained Miami, 332-274, but turned the ball over three times. Miami had no turnovers.
Why the Dolphins won: Drake's return was the difference and gave the Dolphins their third win in a row and ended a two-game Jets win streak.

Panthers 13, Rams 10

The scoop: Cam Newton passed 9 yards to Greg Olsen for a first quarter touchdown and that was the only time either team reached the end zone until Case Keenum hit Ken Britt for a 10-yard pass with 34 seconds left. Carolina had only 244 yards of offense, and the Rams sacked Newton five times for 40 yards. Greg Zuerlein of the Rams missed two field goals, but both misses were from 55 yards.
Why the Panthers won: They contained the L.A. offense until late in the fourth quarter.

Saints 41,  49ers 23

The scoop: A wild shootout with 1,057 yards of offense by the two teams combined. Drew Brees passed for 323 yards and three touchdowns and Mark Ingram scored twice for the Saints, once on a 75-yard run. Colin Kaepernick played back to his old form for a change. He passed for 323 yards and two touchdowns and a 102.3 rating. His touchdown throws were bombs to DuJuan Harris for 47 yards and Vance McDonald for 65.  New Orleans built a 28-10 lead in the second quarter and wasn't really threatened.
Why the Saints won:  The Niners just couldn't match offensive firepower with Brees and Co.

Colts 31, Packers 26

The scoop: Jordan Todman returned the opening kickoff 99 yards and the Colts led it all the way. Indy scored a surprisingly easy win at Lambeau, building a 31-13 lead early in the fourth quarter. Andrew Luck passed for only one touchdown. Aaron Rodgers had three TD passes for Green Bay
Why the Colts won: It would have been a lot worse if Luck hadn't thrown two first quarter touchdowns.

Chargers 43, Titans 35

The scoop: Tennessee came back from 16-0 to take a 21-19 lead on Marcus Mariota's 14-yard run in the third quarter. Then the Titans gave it right back as San Diego drove 75 yards for a 1-yard run by Melvin Gordon.
Why the Chargers won: Dwight Lowery returned a Titans fumble 26 yards for a touchdown after San Diego had regained the lead and it was the difference between the teams. Tennessee had three turnovers, San Diego none.

Dog of the day

Chiefs 19, Jaguars 14

The scoop: With backup quarterback Nick Foles directing the attack, Kansas City produced only one touchdown at home against a defense that allowed 20 in the previous seven games. The Chiefs lone TD came after a fumble recovery at the Jaguars' 23. Cairo Santos kicked four field goals for the rest of the KC points. The Chiefs were outgained by 218 yards, 449-231,  and converted just 1 of 14 third downs.
Why the Chiefs won: The Jaguars lost three fumbles and threw one interception. One of the bobbles came as Chris Ivory was about the carry the ball into the end zone in the fourth quarter. Kansas City recovered for a touchback.

News wire services contributed to this report.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com.

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