Rich Karlis kicked a 35-yard field goal as time ran out in overtime today and the Denver Broncos, rallying behind battered backup quarterback Gary Kubiak, scored a 22-19 victory over the Los Angeles Raiders.
The victory was the second for the Broncos in a month over the Super Bowl champions and left them atop the AFC West with an 8-1 record. Los Angeles, 16-13 losers in Denver, fell to 7-2. The victory, which came before a crowd of 91,020 -- the largest to attend a regular-season Raiders game -- at the Los Angeles Coliseum, was the seventh in a row for Denver.
"This was the biggest thrill of my life," said Broncos Coach Dan Reeves.
The Broncos got their chance at victory when safety Roger Jackson intercepted a pass from Marc Wilson and returned it 23 yards to the Raiders' 22 with 38 seconds remaining. The interception came on a third-and-20 play.
Sammy Winder then ran for four yards before the Broncos let the clock run down to five seconds and called time out.
Karlis, who was wide left on a 42-yard field goal attempt with 3:30 left in overtime, then came through with his game-winner.
"I was too loose for the first one," said Karlis, who kicks bare-footed. "I didn't keep my head down long enough. Even so, if it would have been 39 yards, it would have been good. It tailed on me. That's not one of my traits.
"I was awfully determined that after my second chance there wouldn't be a question."
On the second play of the overtime, a 41-yard pass from Wilson to Malcolm Barnwell had put Los Angeles at the Denver 11. But on the next play, running back Frank Hawkins fumbled and defensive back Steve Foley recovered at the seven.
The Broncos had forced the overtime by scoring a touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Kubiak to wide receiver Steve Watson and Karlis' conversion with 24 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The 84-yard, 11-play drive for the tying touchdown was set up when Rulon Jones recovered a fumble by Los Angeles running back Marcus Allen at the Broncos' 16-yard line with 2:16 left and kept alive when Kubiak scrambled for 17 yards on a third and 10 from the Los Angeles 29.
Kubiak, filling in for injured Denver starter John Elway, had thrown a four-yard scoring pass to Clarence Kay with 13:15 left to draw Denver to within seven points of the Raiders. Karlis didn't get a chance to convert after that touchdown because of a poor snap from center.
Kubiak finished with 21 completions in 34 attempts for 206 yards. Winder led all rushers in the game with 126 yards on 34 carries.
The Raiders took a 2-0 lead after 6:55 of play when Rod Martin sacked Kubiak in the end zone.
Kubiak, a 5-foot-11 second-year player from Texas A&M, was sacked four times for losses of 28 yards and was constantly harassed. He limped off the field three times after taking hard hits, but he returned each time.
"In the first half I was the most nervous I've ever been in my life," Kubiak said. "I said a few extra prayers out there."
The Raiders made it 9-0 with 1:45 left in the first quarter on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Allen. Los Angeles added a 44-yard field goal by Chris Bahr midway through the second period.
The Broncos cut Los Angeles' lead late in the second quarter on field goals of 41 and 24 yards by Karlis. Each was set up by a Raider fumble.
A one-yard scoring plunge by Allen with 4:53 to play in the third quarter gave the Raiders a 19-6 lead.
Wilson was intercepted on two of his first three passing attempts as well as his final throw of the game, which lasted nearly four hours. He was 19 of 36 passing for 252 yards.
The Broncos now have intercepted an NFL-leading 24 passes.
Allen picked up 70 yards on 16 carries but lost two fumbles, one setting up Karlis' second field goal and the other giving Denver its opportunity to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
Overall, the Raiders committed seven turnovers.
"Denver is a very good defensive team," said Los Angeles Coach Tom Flores. "They thrive on turnovers and today we obliged them."
Karlis' first field goal came shortly after Greg Pruitt fumbled a punt and Gerald Willhite recovered for Denver at the Los Angeles 16.
Bahr missed a 47-yard field goal with 4:19 to play in the fourth quarter that would have given the Raiders a 10-point lead.
Los Angeles got the ball back on the next play when Winder fumbled and Jeff Barnes recovered at the Denver 34. However, Ken Woodard forced Allen's fumble with 2:16 left, giving Denver its chance to tie.
"I've never seen us make this many mistakes," said Los Angeles cornerback Lester Hayes. "The Broncos didn't deserve this victory. I guess it just wasn't our destiny."