DENVER — The Oakland Raiders had a lot to lose Sunday — and they did.
A week off.
In a game that couldn't have gone much worse, Oakland lost starting quarterback Matt McGloin to a shoulder injury in the first half and then fell 24-6 to a Denver Broncos team with nothing to play for and now in need of a new coach.
Gary Kubiak informed his players in an emotional postgame locker room that he's stepping away for health reasons.
Combined with Kansas City's win over San Diego, the Raiders (12-4) squandered the AFC West title and the first-round bye that went with it — and instead fell to the No. 5 seed, where they travel to Houston.
"I tell guys all the time: You get what you earn in this league," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. "And we didn't do enough to earn a win tonight."
Leading Oakland into next week's game could be rookie Connor Cook if the injury to McGloin proves serious.
McGloin, who got the start when Derek Carr broke his leg last week, left late in the second quarter. He completed six passes for 21 yards, missing virtually every throw downfield.
A fourth-year player out of Penn State, McGloin was making his first start since 2013. He was hurt when Jared Crick slammed him to the turf, drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty. Moments before that play, McGloin overthrew a wide-open Amari Cooper.
"I wanted to play out there tonight," McGloin said. "If I'm not 100 per cent healthy, that's not what this team needs. I plan on being 100 per cent healthy (for Houston)."
Cook was 14 of 21 with a touchdown to Cooper , an interception and a lost fumble against the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos (9-7), who ended a three-game slide.
"It was fast," Cook said of his first NFL action. "Felt pretty good to get out there and get some reps, trying to get the timing down with the receivers, but obviously not the way we wanted it to go."
Should Cook start at Houston, he would become the first QB in the Super Bowl era whose first career start came in a playoff game, according to NFL Research.
Ready for that sort of challenge?
"For sure," Cook said.
Devontae Booker became the first Broncos rookie with a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game since Clinton Portis in 2002.
The speculation that Kubiak was stepping away from the game was circulating all day. He's 11 months removed from leading Denver to a Super Bowl win over Carolina. The 55-year-old Kubiak suffered a complex migraine on Oct. 9 following Denver's loss to Atlanta.
Kubiak didn't want to overshadow the win, so he didn't address his situation: "Today is about the team and the players."
His players spoke up for him.
"It was emotional," said quarterback Trevor Siemian, who threw two TDs passes and an interception. "Glad we sent him off with a win."
Justin Forsett's 64-yard run in the second quarter was the longest of the season by a Broncos running back. ... Oakland had 13 penalties for 125 yards.
Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree was none too pleased with Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib swatting off his gold chain.
After breaking up a pass in the first half, Talib jawed with the Oakland receiver and then swiped at his chest. The clasp on Crabtree's chain appeared to break.
"That makes you tough?" Crabtree said. "You snatch the chain in front of the police (referee) and take off running? Childish, man."
Talib's explanation was simple: "He's just been wearing that chain all year man, it's just been growing on me. I said, 'If you wear that chain in front of me, I'm going to snatch it off.' He wore it in front of me, so I had to snatch it off."
Raiders: Safety Nate Allen was evaluated for a concussion.
Broncos: Special teamer Zaire Anderson was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field after being injured on punt coverage in the third quarter. Kubiak said Anderson was moving his extremities.
BEST FOR LAST
The Broncos outgained the Raiders by a 349-221 margin and forced three turnovers.
"We should have been clicking like this four weeks ago," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said.
Raiders: Face the Texans (9-7), who have an unsettled QB situation as well.
Broncos: Head into the off-season looking for a new head coach.
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