Broncos 31, Raiders 17
Jake Plummer threw a slant pass toward Rod Smith when Kirk Morrison stepped in front, seemingly poised for an interception and maybe even a touchdown return.
He dropped the ball. That's the kind of season it's been for Plummer: Even when he makes mistakes, somehow he escapes unscathed.
Now, his Denver Broncos are in command of the AFC West.
Plummer passed for 205 yards and a touchdown, had no interceptions and wasn't sacked all day, and Jason Elam kicked three field goals to lead Denver past the Oakland Raiders, 31-17, on Sunday.
"You saw it today, there was somebody looking out for me, football love, or something like that," Plummer said. "That ball was in number 52's hands. He should have run it back for a touchdown, but it fell to the ground. There have been a lot of balls that have been tipped up during my time in the league that have sat up there and hovered like a spaceship. I've been marked as a guy who has thrown a lot of picks."
Twenty last season. He has three this year.
Plummer worked tirelessly to eliminate all the mistakes that plagued him in the past. He's been near perfect, catching some long-awaited breaks.
"I just dropped the ball," Morrison said. "You have to make that play, especially at that time of the game. I could have helped our team swing the momentum and help us win the game."
Darrent Williams did that for Denver. He had a 52-yard punt return to set up the Broncos' first touchdown, then made an 80-yard interception return for a fourth-quarter score that ended Oakland's chance at a comeback.
Ashley Lelie caught passes of 41 and 38 yards as the Broncos (7-2) took a two-game division lead after the Kansas City Chiefs lost, 14-3, at Buffalo. Mike Anderson ran for a one-yard score and Denver looked sharp coming off its bye week, methodically handling the Raiders (3-6) on both sides of the ball.
Plummer completed 10 of 13 passes in the first half and had plenty of time to throw on most of his chances thanks to the strong play of his offensive line.
"That's what we do, we make plays when necessary," said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, who enjoyed his first career matchup with Randy Moss. "We got it done, and that's what matters. There's nothing we can do except win games."
Moss had a 29-yard touchdown among his six receptions, his most catches since joining the Raiders from Minnesota in March. He now has five touchdowns, but that didn't seem to matter to Moss. While the rest of the players shook hands afterward, a seething Moss walked off the field alone. He hasn't spoken to the media since the season opener Sept. 8 at New England.
Quarterback Kerry Collins couldn't do much right in his worst game of the year. He completed 26 of 50 passes for 310 yards, doubled his season total with three interceptions and was sacked four times. Collins connected with Moss in the opening minute of the fourth quarter for one of the few highlights by the Oakland offense.
Moss, again playing in a limited role because of bruised ribs, a strained groin and bruised pelvic area from a fall against San Diego on Oct. 16, caught the ball in the corner of the end zone just over the outstretched hand of Domonique Foxworth.
The Raiders got another chance right away when Smith fumbled after a catch and Fabian Washington recovered, but Oakland settled for a 40-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski after Collins was sacked and fumbled.
"I'm real disappointed in the way I played," Collins said. "It's pretty simple. I need to play better. I can't do the things I did today."
The Raiders, trying to bounce back from a demoralizing last-second 27-23 road defeat to the Chiefs, are 2-14 against the division since losing the Super Bowl to Tampa Bay after the 2002 season.