LAS VEGAS — For a moment, it seemed the Broncos would find a way again.
That for the third consecutive week, Denver would enter the fourth quarter facing a deficit and walk away from the game with a win.
As KJ Hamler hauled in a 55-yard pass and Russell Wilson barreled in from three yards out on the Broncos' penultimate drive — a drive in which the Broncos faced a first-and-30 — it seemed entirely possible Denver would find a way to emerge victorious.
And when the Raiders faced a third-and-6 with 6:37 to play, the Broncos appeared poised to get the stop they needed. Derek Carr, though, escaped the pocket and ran for a critical nine yards on a drive that would eventually lead to the game-sealing touchdown.
"We believed that we were going to win the game," Wilson said. "They obviously made that touchdown that last drive. We still thought we could win it. That's just the mentality that I have, the mentality that we have together."
Carr's run — and the Josh Jacobs touchdown run that followed — were just two of the Raiders' 38 carries for 212 yards. The run defense, which entered as the sixth-best unit in the league, allowed 5.6 yards per carry during Sunday's loss.
And while the Broncos' defense held strong for much of the contest — allowing just three field goals across nearly 40 minutes of game time — the Raiders found the success they needed on the ground.
"I think we kind of needed this, though, to see we're still human," Bradley Chubb said after the game. "Last week, I called us the best defense in the league, and we've got to live up to that. We've got to make sure we do everything every day throughout the week to live up to that."
Offensively, Denver faced similar struggles, at times. The unit mustered one first down on three possessions in the third quarter, and the group found itself behind the chains on multiple occasions.
"That third quarter, we kind of hurt ourselves," Wilson said. "That's the game, I think."
Wilson posted perhaps the best game of his young Broncos career — he completed 17-of-25 passes for 237 yards, two touchdowns and a 124.9 rating — but drops and a fumble from Melvin Gordon III that was returned for a touchdown hurt Denver's chances.
"Just have to be better, man," Gordon said. "Ain't no excuse for it. I don't want to get up here and tell you anything that ain't right. I've just got to be better. That's it."
The Broncos responded from that mistake, as they quickly marched down the field for a game-tying touchdown.
"Obviously any time you turn the ball over, it's a big swing," Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said. "That leading to a touchdown on the same recovery is obviously rough. I love how the guys battled. They stayed in it. They definitely could've gone down in the tank, and they didn't. We still had a chance there at the end. We got it down to a field-goal game at the end, and in the end that's what you're asking from your team. All those things, they do happen and that's a hard way to win games, whenever you lose the turnover differential and it being a score. We battled back. I thought that was really good."
There were certainly no absence of positive indicators in a loss that dropped the Broncos to 2-2 on the season. Pat Surtain II more than held his own in an anticipated matchup with Davante Adams, and the Broncos' offense scored touchdowns on two of its three red-zone possessions.
With the Colts set to visit Denver for "Thursday Night Football," the Broncos seem set on finding a way to build off those positives and to not let the loss linger.
"How you get the guys back into it is, how could you not?" Wilson said. "What a big opportunity to respond. That's what championship-type teams do. We've got to respond, we've got to battle. We've got to overcome obstacles. We've got to be battle-tested and be able to respond in a great way."
And while the quick turnaround may be a test, Chubb said he'll relish the opportunity to move forward from the loss.
"It just wasn't our best performance as a defense," Chubb said. "It wasn't our best performance as an overall team. It's just easy to wipe this one away and get on to the next one. We wanted to win this one because it's the West, it's our division, it's our rival.
"But at the end of the day, you can't go back and play the game again, so we've got to make sure we move on to the Colts."
View exclusive photos of the Broncos' game vs. the Raiders by team photographers.