OAKLAND – On this night, in front of this crowd, against this team, quarterback Trevor Siemian's performance wasn't enough.
His two-touchdown, 283-yard game didn't lead the Broncos to a victory, and a host of issues contributed to the loss: drops, sacks, a lack of sustained drives.
They showed up from the very beginning.
The Broncos went three and out on their first four possessions – including all three of their first quarter drives -- and didn't manage to record a first down until the second quarter. The drought stemmed from a mix of poor throws, drops and unsuccessful runs, and Siemian acknowledged the difficulty of winning football games when a game begins in such a manner.
"It's tough," he said. "Yeah, it's tough being in a hole like that. Four three-and-outs, that's not good for the whole football team, but certainly have got to find a way to find a rhythm earlier on in the ballgame."
The offensive struggles didn't come from a lack of preparation or any unexpected twists, Siemian said. The Raiders ran the same scheme the Broncos expected – they just weren't able to execute.
"They mix some coverages, but [it was] pretty consistent with what we thought they'd do," Siemian said "But, yeah, you know, certainly maintain a balance. … If you don't have that balance, they're able to do a little more to you, but nothing that we didn't expect."
Head Coach Gary Kubiak agreed with that assessment and said that without a decent running attack, a team like the Raiders becomes very difficult to beat. Even so, he continues to like what he sees from the second-year player who threw two touchdowns in a difficult road environment.
"I think Trevor's a battler that continues to get better every time we go out," Kubiak said. "What'd we throw it? Thirty-three times or something like that? If they know you've got to throw it, it's a tough team to play. And that fact that we ran the ball as poorly as we did and got behind, Trevor still went down twice [to lead scoring drives]. He's improving. He can always get better; we can all get better. But he continues to work his tail off."
Siemian found his first sliver of success Sunday on a 23-yard pass along the left sideline to Demaryius Thomas, who made a toe-tapping catch to give the Broncos a first down for the first time in the game. Just four plays later, the Broncos were in the end zone.
"Yeah, at some point you're thinking, 'Whatever you've got to do, find a way to get a first down,'" Siemian said. "So, there, just try to stay on the field, whatever you've got to do — claw, scratch, fight. Just find a way to get a first down, stay on the field and hopefully get a little rhythm going."
Siemian would lead another drive just before the half to tack on a field goal, but early in the second half, the third-down struggles returned. The Broncos failed to stay on the field as the Raiders racked up a 41:28 to 18:32 time of possession advantage. In the fourth quarter, the Broncos held the ball for just 2:24.
Regardless of the defense's scheme, Siemian recognized the offense must improve at possessing the football.
"I think our biggest thing is just staying on the field," Siemian said. "And when you go three and out, it really doesn't matter what they're doing to you. They're going to give us different looks. Each team's different, how they play you, how you're playing that week. I think the biggest thing is just staying on the field, converting those third downs early."
Some of the time of possession disparity can be explained by the hurry-up approach the Broncos took in the fourth quarter. And while the strategy succeeded to some degree – Kapri Bibbs scampered for a 69-yard score – Siemian also turned the ball over twice.
The first turnover, a strip sack by Raiders defense end Khalil Mack, all but ended the Broncos hopes. The team was already down 10, and the turnover gave Oakland the ball at the Denver 39-yard line. A touchdown a few plays later would push the Oakland lead to 30-13 and send the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum into a frenzy.
"I was stepping up," Siemian said, "and I don't even know who it was, but I've got to do a better job of holding onto the ball there — can't turn it over there, especially when we had a chance to, you know — it felt like a comeback right there."
The fumble ended those hopes, however, and the Broncos slipped in the division standings. Siemian finished 18-for-37 for 283 yards and two touchdowns -- but on the road, it wasn't enough.
As the Broncos head into Week 10 in need of a win, Siemian knows this won't be the last raucous crowd he'll face.
"Obviously the crowd got up for this one," Siemian said, "and we knew it going in they'd be excited, but that's just something to deal with on the road, and I'm sure we'll have a few more games like that."
New Orleans awaits.