The Denver Broncos headed west to Oakland, California to take on the Oakland Raiders. The Broncos were coming off a 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Raiders were coming off a 20-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns. They were playing this game with heavy hearts as head coach Dennis Allen was back with the team despite losing his father and former Atlanta Falcon linebacker Grady Allen to cardiac arrest earlier in the week. The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.
The Broncos started at their 32-yard line and quarterback Peyton Manning went right to work from the shotgun formation. On third and five from the 37, Manning looked for tight end Jacob Tamme and the play was broken up by safety Tyvon Branch. However, linebacker Philip Wheeler was flagged for holding and that gave the Broncos an automatic first down. It’s not a good idea to give Manning a second chance. He’ll make you pay for your mistakes. On third and six from the 46, wide receiver Eric Decker was open across the middle and Manning hit him in stride for a gain of 16 yards. Another third and long reared its ugly head and this time Manning dumped a short pass to running back Knowshon Moreno that went for 26 yards. He was finally dragged down at the 12. On second and four from the six, Manning calmly stood in the pocket as the anemic pass rush was nowhere near him. He found tight end Joel Dreessen in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown. Kicker Matt Prater made the extra point and the Broncos led 7-0 with ten and a half minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Raiders got the ball at their 20 and on first down, quarterback Carson Palmer looked to his right and dumped a short pass to running back Darren McFadden. Replay showed that there was excellent blocking in front of McFadden and he basically had only one man to beat. Unfortunately, HE DROPPED THE FREAKING BALL! So, what could have been a huge play ended up being an incomplete pass. Two more pass attempts netted four yards and punter Shane Lechler punted the ball away. Return man Trindon Holliday muffed the punt, but it was recovered by the Broncos at their 25-yard line.
On third and five from the 30, Manning found his reliable friend Eric Decker again for a gain of 19 yards. An eight-yard run by Moreno and yet another offside penalty on defensive tackle Tommy Kelly gave the Broncos a first down at the Raider 38. They would move the ball all the way to the 14 when Manning was sacked for a loss of 11 by defensive end Lamarr Houston. Prater was called on and he made the 43-yard field goal attempt. The Broncos now led 10-0 with five minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Raiders again started at their 20. On third and nine from the 21, Palmer launched a bomb down the middle of the field that was caught by wide receiver Rod Streater for a gain of 58 yards. It was a great throw and an even better catch. But, the drive would end on the next play as Palmer went looking for tight end Brandon Myers. He was open, but Palmer was late on the throw and that enabled cornerback Champ Bailey to pick off the pass. He ran it back to the Bronco 21. That was a killer for the Raiders. What momentum they had after that bomb to Streater completely disappeared on the very next play.
The Bronco offense went back to work and started chewing up yardage at a rapid rate. A 13-yard pass to Dreessen, a seven-yard run by Moreno, a five-yard run by Moreno and a 39-yard pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas gave the Broncos a first down at the Raider 39. A 12-yard run up the middle by running back Ronnie Hillman and a 16-yard pass to Thomas made it first down at the 11. All of a sudden, the defense stiffened. Moreno went up the middle for one yard, Manning was sacked by defensive tackle Desmond Bryant for a loss of five and on third down from the 15, Manning looked for Tamme in the end zone and the ball sailed over his head. Prater made the 34-yard field goal and the Broncos now led 13-0 with just under 14 minutes to go in the second quarter.
Another three and out for the Raiders meant another chance for the Broncos to increase their lead. They started at their 17 and passes to wide receiver Andre Caldwell and Decker got them moving in the right direction. Moreno carried the ball three straight times for 20 yards. Hillman followed that up with a gain of six for a first down at the Raider 28. From the 28, Manning threw one up for the end zone, but cornerback Phillip Adams made a nice diving interception and the Raiders got the ball back at their 20.
A holding call on Brisiel moved them back ten yards, but Palmer found wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey for a gain of 15. McFadden ran up the middle for six more and a first down at the 26. Palmer looked for Streater and HE DROPPED THE FREAKING BALL! However, on the very next play, Palmer threw to Streater again and he made the catch for a gain of 13 yards. An 11-yard pass to wide receiver Denarius Moore and another one for 15 yards to Streater had the Raiders at the Bronco 26. From the 26, Palmer spread the ball around to three different receivers and a six-yard pass to McFadden got them a first down at the 14. On third and two from the six, Palmer looked to his right and back to the left where he found McFadden standing all alone with blockers in front of him. This time McFadden caught the pass and ran it in for a touchdown. It was truly a sight to behold. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Broncos now led 13-7 with two minutes to go in the first half.
The Broncos had three timeouts and broke out the no huddle offense from their 20. A short pass to Tamme and a pass interference penalty on Adams moved the ball to the 31. From the 31, wide receiver Mark Willis caught a pass for a gain of 19 and a first down at the 50. The Raiders brought the pressure and safety Mike Mitchell sacked Manning for a loss of six. A short pass to Decker and an incomplete pass on third down forced the Broncos to punt. Palmer took a knee and the half ended with the Broncos leading 13-7.
McFadden got the Raiders off to a great start in the second half. From the 20, he ran up the right side for a gain of 36 and a first down at the Bronco 44. But on third and 13, the Broncos brought the pressure and forced Palmer to put up another lame duck. Moore was almost able to bring it in, but the ball fell to the ground. Lechler punted and the Broncos started the next drive from their nine-yard line. Passes to Thomas and Decker and two pass interference penalties (one in the end zone) gave the Broncos a first and goal at the one. If safety Matt Giordano had actually turned around and looked for the ball on that play, he may have been able to pick it off. Instead, he was penalized for interference. Again the Raider defense was up for the challenge and stopped them from crossing the goal line. I must say that I was very impressed by that. Prater made the 20-yard field goal and the Broncos increased the lead to 16-7 with seven and a half minutes to go in the third quarter.
Like the idiot that he is, Raider return man Mike Goodson ran the kickoff out from deep in the end zone and was promptly flattened at the Raider eight-yard line. On third and six from the 12, Palmer was sacked by linebacker Von Miller and the ball came loose. Defensive tackle Mitch Unrein recovered it at the two and two plays later, Moreno ran it in for a touchdown. Prater made the point after and the Broncos now led 23-7 with five minutes to go in the third quarter. Just like that, the game was out of reach for the Raiders.
McFadden was stuffed twice and an incomplete pass to Heyward-Bey meant it was time for another punt. Lechler got off a short punt and the Broncos were flagged for holding on the play. Wow! The zebras actually threw a flag at the Broncos! Truly amazing! The Broncos started at their 36 and some more good running and a 15-yard catch and run from Moreno moved them down to the Raider 21. The drive stalled at the 15 and Prater increased the lead to 26-7 with a 33-yard field goal. That brought the third quarter to an end.
Trailing by 19, it was time for Palmer to throw on every down again. 15 and 11-yard passes to Moore got them moving in the right direction. Another holding call on right tackle Khalif Barnes moved them back ten yards. On second and 15 from the Raider 47, rookie receiver Juron Criner got behind Champ Bailey and Palmer put the pass right in his hands. There was only one problem. HE DROPPED THE FREAKING BALL! I don’t know if he would have scored, but if he had caught that pass, it would have gone for a huge gain. Such is the way things are in Oakland nowadays. An opportunity arose and they didn’t take advantage of it. The teams traded punts and with seven and a half minutes to go in the game, the Raiders had one more opportunity to put some points on the board.
They got the ball back at their 14 and passes to Criner and a six-yard run by McFadden set up a first down at the 44. From the 44, Palmer looked to his left and found Heyward-Bey. He made a leaping catch, came down and turned on the speed. No Bronco would catch him this time and he ran it in for a 56-yard touchdown. It really was a nice catch and run. All 10,000 fans that remained in the stands seemed to be very excited. Even Janikowski raised his bottle of vodka in celebration of what just occurred. What’s even better about that is that I have Heyward-Bey on my fantasy team. Thanks for the points, Darrius! They decided to go for two and Palmer’s pass to Moore was ruled incomplete because Moore couldn’t get both feet in bounds. The Broncos took over and ran out the clock. Final score: Broncos 26 Raiders 13.
For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 26 of 36 for 310 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Eric Decker led the Broncos in receptions with eight and he also had the most receiving yards with 88. Knowshon Moreno carried the ball 32 times for 119 yards and one touchdown. As a team, the Broncos ran for 140 yards on 39 carries. Defensively, cornerback Tony Carter and linebacker D.J. Williams led the team with four solo tackles apiece.
For the Raiders, Carson Palmer completed 19 of 30 for 273 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and one lost fumble. Rod Streater led all receivers in yardage with 100 yards. Heyward-Bey had the most receptions with five and a touchdown. Darren McFadden had a paltry total of 52 yards on 11 carries. 36 of those yards came on one carry. All totaled, the Raiders came away with 61 yards on 16 attempts. That’s beyond pathetic. Defensively, Philip Wheeler led the team with five solo tackles. Mike Mitchell also had a good game with a sack and two tackles for a loss.
That makes six consecutive losses for the Raiders and their record is now 3-10. The win improved the Broncos to 10-3 and they just keep cruising along. Up next for the Raiders is their final home game of the year against the Kansas City Chiefs. They defeated the Chiefs 26-16 earlier in the year. Can they beat them again? Hell if I know. Maybe if the receivers would actually CATCH the ball and the defense could get off the field in third and long situations. That would definitely help. If they can do that, maybe they’ll beat the Chiefs. They have a long week to prepare for their next game and I would like to think that they would be ready to get a win. Whether they will or not remains to be seen. Until then, take it easy.
The Raider Guy