OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Denver Broncos went back to the formula they used to start the season: A stifling defense that made up for the mistakes of the offense.
Jake Plummer overcame three interceptions to throw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Kyle Johnson early in the fourth quarter and the Broncos forced two fumbles down the stretch to seal a 17-13 victory against the Oakland Raiders yesterday.
After breaking through with 31-point performances the past two weeks, Denver (7-2) reverted to its early season form when the defense dominated and often won in spite of the offense.
While that proved to be more than enough against the struggling Raiders (2-7), the Broncos know they'll need to be better when the competition gets tougher starting with next week's first-place showdown against San Diego.
"The good thing about it is we got a win, but we didn't play our best game," receiver Javon Walker said. "We left a lot of yards out there on the field. We made a lot of penalties and put ourselves in bad positions. We knew we could have played better."
The winning touchdown came after a fumbled punt by Denver was overruled by an obscure penalty call against Oakland.
The Raiders appeared in control when they recovered David Kircus' fumble at the Denver 20. But instead of adding to a 13-7 lead, Oakland was forced to punt again when Chris Carr was called for a personal foul for running out of bounds on the coverage.
"I was out of bounds longer than I probably should have been," Carr said. "It was a close call. Sometimes they'll call it, sometimes they won't."
After the second punt, Denver started its drive on its 40. Plummer completed seven consecutive passes and gave the Broncos a 14-13 lead on a fourth-down, play-action pass to Johnson with 11:06 to play.
The Raiders went three-and-out on the next drive and backed Denver down to the 2 on a 55-yard punt by Shane Lechler. But when Oakland most needed a stop, Plummer was able to get three first downs and move the ball into Raiders territory.