Jim Plunkett threw two touchdown passes to Cliff Branch and the NFL's leading defense held Denver scoreless until the closing minutes as the Los Angeles Raiders raised their record to 4-0 with a 22-7 victory today.
John Elway, Denver's rookie quarterback, suffered a slight concussion late in the first half and didn't return although he is expected to play next Sunday against Chicago. Elway completed six of 11 passes for 71 yards and was intercepted once.
The Broncos (2-2) managed to avert a shutout, which would have been their first ever at home, on rookie Zach Thomas' 70-yard punt return with 1:42 left.
"Our secret is to get on a team and just wear them down," said Plunkett. "We don't do anything fancy offensively, like a lot of traps and things."
Plunkett's 35-yard touchdown pass to Branch, which followed an interception, accounted for the only score of the first half.
Late in the third quarter, a critical punting error gave Los Angeles good field position for another score. Denver punter Luke Prestridge dropped the ball incorrectly after receiving the snap. He eventually got the kick away on the run, but Greg Pruitt returned it 26 yards to the Denver 28.
Plunkett then passed 11 yards to Branch, then 17 yards to the veteran receiver with 44 seconds left in the period for a 20-0 lead.