June 27, 2017

SLAM! CLICK! BOOM!!! on the Raiders’ 2014 Season

It’s been said that all good things must come to an end.  Well, on Sunday, December 28, a very bad thing came to an end.  That would be the 2014 season for the Oakland Raiders.  They went out without much of a fight as the Denver Broncos destroyed them by a score of 47-14.  It was the same old thing for the Raiders.  The best player on the field was punter Marquette King.  He punted NINE times for 418 yards and four of those punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.  Impressive.  At least the punter knows what he’s doing.  What totally baffles me is how an offense can look so bad.  How in the name of all that is moronic can you not figure out a way to move the ball?  Did you practice during the week?  Did you watch how the Bengals moved the ball against Denver?  They ran the ball right down their throats!  Oh well.  It’s over and it’s done.  Nothing can be done about it.

Now the off season starts.  There are so many questions to be answered.  Who will be the new head coach?  Word was it was going to be Jim Harbaugh.  Wrong.  He’s off to Michigan to try and turn that program around.  A lot of the veteran players are clamoring for Tony Sparano to stick around.  They seemed to play a lot harder for Sparano than they did for Dennis Allen.  Whether he sticks around is up to owner Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie to decide.

One thing to remember is that there are a lot of glaring holes at a lot of positions.  In my opinion, the main thing that needs to be addressed on the offensive side of the ball is a go to wide receiver.  Granted, Andre Holmes and James Jones are good, but they’re not in the elite category and I’ve seen games where they can’t get any separation at all.  A player that could help that situation out immediately is Amari Cooper from Alabama.  If he’s there with the fourth pick in the draft, it would be a wise decision to take him.

There are so many other positions that need to be addressed and unlike how it was when Al Davis was in charge, the Raiders have a lot of money to spend.  Of course, they had a lot of money to spend last year and not many of the players contributed.  For instance, Maurice Jones-Drew carried the ball 43 times for 96 yards and never found the end zone.  LaMarr Woodley had three solo tackles in five games before being put on injured-reserve.  McKenzie needs to stay away from players like that.  Jones-Drew and Woodley were  in the twilight of their careers and their best years were way behind them.  The big question is can he lure quality free agents away from other teams?  Not many players want to come to a team that has an 11-37 record over the last three years.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the title of this article, I can explain.  The first word is “SLAM.”  That means I’m taking the 13 ugly losses from 2014 and I am putting them in a locker and slamming it shut.  Next is the word “CLICK.”  That means I am putting a lock on the door.  The next word is “BOOM!”  I usually use that word when Janikowksi makes a long field goal.  Not this time.  See, while I was putting those losses into the locker, I also included some dynamite.  Now I am going to detonate it.  BOOM!  The 2014 season is gone.

IF the Raiders can have a draft like they did last year and IF they can sign some QUALITY free agents, they might have a decent 2015.  That also depends on who they hire as their next head coach.  I have no control over who the coach will be, but they need a new offensive coordinator.  I think I’ve made my opinion pretty clear about how I feel about Greg Olson.  That’s about all I can say about the Raiders at this time because once again, what will happen in Oakland is yet to be determined.  I’ll be back next Monday with playoff articles.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

Only 7 Games To Go!

The ninth game for the winless Oakland Raiders had the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos paying a visit to Oakland.  The Broncos were coming off a bad 43-21 loss to the New England Patriots and the Raiders fought hard, but left Seattle with a 30-24 loss.  The Broncos got the ball first and started at their 20.  On the second play of the game, quarterback Peyton Manning was picked off by cornerback D.J. Hayden.  The Raiders took over at the Denver 49-yard line.  Guess what the amazing Greg Olson called for the Raiders to do on first down?  You got it.  They gave the ball to running back Darren McFadden.  Anyone care to guess where he ran?  Was it off tackle?  Was it a pitch to the strong side?  No! It was right up the middle just like it always is and McFadden got a whopping three yards.  But on second down, quarterback Derek Carr found wide receiver James Jones for a gain of ten yards and a first down at the 36-yard line.  Two plays later, Carr found wide receiver Brice Butler for a gain of seven and another first down at the 25.  They didn’t get much farther than that and kicker Sebastian Janikowksi was brought into the game.  His 41-yard field goal attempt was good and the Raiders led 3-0 with 9:35 to go in the first quarter.

The Broncos took over at their 25 and runs by running back Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson got them rolling.  That was followed by long completions to wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.  The completion to Thomas moved them all the way to the Oakland 17-yard line.  A nine-yard completion to Anderson and a four-yard run by Anderson moved them to the four.  But a false start penalty moved them back five yards and they got as far as the two-yard line.  Instead of going for it, Denver head coach John Fox opted for a field goal.  Kicker Brandon McManus had no problem making his 20-yard attempt and the score was tied at three with four minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders went three and out on their next possession and held on to the ball for a grand total of one minute and 40 seconds.  That’s not how to beat the Broncos.  The way to beat the Broncos is to keep Manning on the sideline.  He can’t do any damage from there.  I guess the Raiders didn’t get the memo.  The Broncos took over at their 35 and Manning broke out the no huddle offense.  Completions to wide receivers Wes Welker, D. Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas moved them quickly down to the Oakland 36-yard line.  That was followed by a pass interference penalty on cornerback Tarell Brown.  That moved the Broncos even further into Oakland territory.  But the drive was halted at the ten-yard line.  McManus came on for another field goal attempt and his 28-yard attempt was good.  That put the Broncos up 6-3 with 14:22 to go in the second quarter.

As usual, the Raiders punted after three unimaginative plays.  The Broncos got the ball back at their 32-yard line and that was followed by an interception by defensive end Justin Tuck.  He returned it to the 12 and gave the Raiders excellent field position.  Surely the Raiders could go a measly 12 yards and take the lead, right?  Maybe?  Is it really possible that they could be leading the defending AFC champions in the second quarter?  The answer to that is a resounding yes!  Three plays later, Carr found Butler in the end zone for a Raider touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 10-6 with 11:19 to go in the second quarter.

I am a firm believer in momentum.  If a team has momentum, they can do things that will make them play well and get them a win.  Well, the Raiders were at home and they had the lead against one of their biggest rivals.  That was all about to change.  With 3:30 to go in the second quarter, cornerback Bradley Roby intercepted a pass intended for tight end Mychal Rivera and gave the Broncos the ball at their own 47-yard line.  On third and eight from the 49, Manning felt pressure from his right side and dumped a short pass of to Anderson.  The defense read the play and there were several defenders in position to stop Anderson from getting a first down.  Unfortunately, every player in a black uniform missed the opportunity to stop Anderson and he found the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown.  That was truly some of the worst “tackling” I have ever seen.  McManus made the point after and the Broncos led 13-10 with 2:44 to go in the second quarter.  It got worse after that.  After the Raiders punted once again, the Broncos scored again.  This time it was a 32-yard pass to Sanders with 28 seconds remaining.  McManus made the point after and the Broncos led 20-10 at halftime.  Remember what I said about momentum?  Well, the Broncos had it and didn’t let it go.  They came out of the locker room and proceeded to kick the crap out of the Raiders.  Manning threw three more touchdown passes and the Broncos won 41-17.  The lone touchdown for the Raiders came on a 18-yard touchdown pass to Rivera with 48 seconds to go in the game.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 31 of 44 for 340 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.  Demaryius Thomas led the team in receptions with 11 and receiving yards with 108.  The ground game was running on all cylinders too.  C.J. Anderson led the team in rushing with 90 yards on 13 carries.  As a team, the Broncos rushed for a total of 118 yards on 27 carries.  Anderson also had 73 yards on four catches.  Defensively, linebacker Brandon Marshall led the team in solo tackles with 11.

For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 30 of 47 for 192 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.  30 completions is pretty good.  But averaging four yards a completion is horrible.  James Jones led the team in receptions with eight and Mychal Rivera had the most receiving yards with 64 and a touchdown.  Eight catches is an impressive statistic.  But Jones only had 20 yards.  That means he averaged 2.5 yards per reception.  What the hell kind of offense is this?  Jones is a legitimate deep threat and he’s putting up those horrible numbers?  Speaking of horrible numbers, check out the ground game for the Raiders.  They had 30 yards on 15 carries.  Not only are they last in the league in rushing, but it’s not even close.  They are DEAD LAST in the league.  During training camp, former head coach Dennis Allen said the offense was “built to run.”  Really?  Built to run?  Are you sure about that?  This team “runs” like a snail trying to cross the street in a blizzard.  Oh, do you want to know who led the team in solo tackles?  That would be safety Larry Asante with eight.

This was total and complete domination by the Broncos.  They out-gained the Raiders in total yardage 471-222.  They had 25 first downs and the Raiders had only 10.  The only statistic the Raiders won was penalties.  They were only flagged four times for 37 yards and the Broncos were flagged 12 times for 95 yards.  See?  I managed to find a bright spot among all the doom and darkness of another horrible loss.  I think I’m going to give myself a gold star for such an amazing accomplishment.  Up next is a road trip to San Diego.  The Chargers are coming off a bye week.  But two weeks ago, they went down to Miami and the Dolphins shut them out 37-0.  They’ll be looking to take their frustrations out on the Raiders.  As for me, I’m going to wash the car before the cold weather gets here.  Take it easy.

The Suicidal Raider Guy

 

Leatherheads Midseason Awards

We are halfway through the 2014 NFL season and there have been surprises, disappointments, slumps, sacks, breakaways and meltdowns.

And so far we’re only talking about Jon Gruden.

We kid because we care. According to the Bible of Gruden every player in the NFL is the greatest player/person/life form ever, at least at some particular moment and we applaud such positivity because if football is about nothing else shouldn’t it be about love, appreciation and the Raiderettes?

Mr. Gruden was unable to join us for our midseason awards banquet but we Leatherheads still managed.

Midseason MVP: Peyton Manning

Manning is the runaway unanimous choice among all Leatherheads who took part in this report card. Joe Williams issues apologies to Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck noting that Manning is still the best player in the game and that’s difficult to protest. Manning is tied for first with Luck with an NFL-best 22 touchdown passes but has been intercepted just three times, whereas Luck has gotten picked nine times. Peyton’s QB rating of 119.0 leaves Luck, Rodgers, Philip Rivers and everyone else in the dust.

Manning is also leading what is probably the best team in the NFL. The Denver Broncos are 6-1 with their lone defeat coming in overtime to the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. If Peyton Manning stays healthy he seems likely to win his (gulp) sixth NFL MVP. No one else has ever won more than three.

We have to take a brief timeout here, however, to point out that Manning is now playing in an era when quarterbacks are like pinball players. They are allowed to just sit there and bang those flippers, racking up the stats and the points. Yes, #18 still does it as well if not better than anyone but we can only wonder what great QBs of yesteryear would have accomplished in today’s increasingly hands-off-the-star NFL.

And another thing, Peyton will not be considered the greatest quarterback ever until he wins another Super Bowl. That’s not fair, maybe. But it’s true. But for now, he must be satisfied with the official Mike Lynch Statue for winning the Leatherheads half-season MVP. I hope someone ordered that statue.

Midseason Offensive Player of the Year: DeMarco Murray

Some Leatherheads chose Manning for this and that’s perfectly logical. If a guy plays offense and is the league MVP then shouldn’t he automatically be the Offensive Player of the Year as well? After some discussion and a few cocktails our official answer is “no.” Manning is the most valuable because he’s awesome and has the unfair advantage over Murray of playing the most important position. But DeMarco Murray deserves the Offensive accolade for several reasons.

Murray, the fourth year Dallas Cowboys running back, leads the NFL in carries with 206. That’s 60 more than his next closest competitor, Arian Foster. Murray also tops the NFL in rushing yards with 1,054, easily outdistancing Foster by nearly 300 yards.   And Murray is not just a bull who bashes his way to real estate. He’s averaging 5.1 yards a carry. That’s fantastic.

Murray is also tied with Foster for the NFL lead with seven rushing scores and has caught 26 passes for a nearly nine-yard average. All this and his Cowboys are making Jerry Jones look young again without surgical help as Dallas is 6-2 and in great position to make its first playoff appearance since 2009.

Our concern is that DeMarco may not be alive and well come playoff time. He’s on pace to carry the ball more than 400 times and, come January, could be moving slower than lava but with implications just as critical.

Midseason Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt

Another unanimous choice. Mr. Watt, the Houston Texans defensive end, is so good some might say he deserves consideration for league MVP. Perhaps. Just as with DeMarco Murray, Watt pays the price for not being a quarterback which is a shame (whoops! We almost wrote “sham”) because he’s probably the best overall player in the league.

Watt has seven sacks which puts him significantly behind league-leader Justin Houston of the Kansas City Chiefs who has ten. But sacks are like Mariah Carey songs. They’re fun and make the person who sings them a lot of money but they’re not really music, and not really the best barometer of a great defensive player. If a guy gets one sack a game he’s anointed a star. But what does he do the rest of the game? Watt does a lot.

J.J. has eight pass deflections, tied with Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata for most among defensive lineman.  Every other guy in the top ten is a defensive back.

Watt has 22 solo tackles, tied for fourth among NFL defensive linemen. He has one forced fumble and one interception; which he returned 80 yards for a touchdown against Buffalo. Watt also recovered a fumble and rambled 45 yards for a score against the Colts. Justin James Watt has also caught one pass this year, yes on offense, for a TD. This dude has three touchdowns. And he plays defense. And he does all this on a team that’s 4-4 and alive and ponderous in the playoff race. (And, as Joe Williams observes, J.J. is also a “decent dancer.”)

Midseason Rookie of the Year: Sammy Watkins

We’re impressed with several first years including Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller, Arizona Cardinals receiver John Brown and Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack. But in the end, it’s Sammy.

Watkins, the first year wideout for the Buffalos Bills, is described by our Joe Williams as “pure talent” and the numbers back that up. Watkins has 590 yards receiving, which is tops among rookies, and he is also tied for the lead in the NFL’s freshman class with five TD catches including a last-second game winner against the Vikings on October 19.

Watkins is electric and should be a stud for years to come. The problem is he plays in Buffalo and the Bills are so awful and so off the radar that no matter how good Watkins is he’ll never…oh dear. Wait a second. The Bills are 5-3, aren’t they? If Watkins and QB Kyle Orton (He’s alive! He’s good!) lead the Bills to their first playoff appearance since 1999 (who do they think they are, the Kansas City Royals?) then Sammy won’t just be Rookie of the Year, he’ll also never have to shovel his driveway again.

Biggest Midseason Surprise: Dallas Cowboys

It would have been a smooth and cool transition to go from raving about Sammy Watkins to christening his Bills as the league’s biggest surprise so far and that’s the vote from Leatherhead Joe Williams. But Leatherhead David Boyce says that honor is actually an ignominious one that belongs to the 4-3 Super Bowl champion Seahawks who are good but not looking at all like the juggernaut many thought they’d be.

Then there’s the offering of Leatherhead Daniel Durany who votes for the Cowboys and that selection is our winner. The Bills are a great story, so are the Cardinals but, as Joe Williams points, not really a surprising one as they were great in the second half of last year. We choose Dallas because the Cowboys are not only unexpectedly winning games but playing really well, if that makes sense. All the drama in Dallas is finally taking a backseat to really good, sound, fundamental football and the ‘Boys are playing it despite some big injuries.

Will Dallas continue to surprise in the second half? We have already voiced our concerns about DeMarco Murray’s durability and that drama that we don’t miss did return a bit in Monday’s loss to the Washington Redskins with questions about quarterback Tony Romo’s health both short and long term. And as long as Jerry Jones is there will Jason Garrett, or any coach, really get to do their own thing?

We knoweth not. But for the first eight games the 6-2 Dallas Cowboys are not just a pleasant surprise but the league’s biggest one.

Biggest Midseason Disappointment: Chicago Bears

This category is another contentious one. Joe Williams chooses the Seahawks. David Boyce votes for his beloved but 0-7 Oakland Raiders (will Jim Harbaugh cross the Bay and coach the Silver and Black next year? Or maybe travel with them to L.A.?) But Daniel Durany and the rest of us vote for, sigh, cigarette puff, sigh, head scratch, sigh, the Chicago Bears.

Oh it hurts. Maybe the Bears shouldn’t be considered a disappointment when remembering they were 8-8 last year. But most preseason prognosticators chose the Monsters of the Maddening to be a playoff team and some felt they could even have dreams of football in February. Instead, the Bears’ vaunted offense has been stuck in neutral, injuries are mounting for an already aged and bedraggled defense and the Bears are a very murky 3-5 with zero wins at home.

What in the Ditka has gone wrong in Chicago? Too much. The second half could see a turnaround but it’s going to be tougher than the Soldier Field turf to do so.

So, what are you thoughts about our midseason honors? Will they hold up? And what of the prediction of a certain Leatherhead back in August that we’d see a Cardinals-Chargers Super Bowl? It’s still crazy but maybe not as crazy as it sounded back then.

We’ll stand by that pick for now but won’t cry if we’re proven wrong. We hope the second half continues to see excellent football on the field and fewer distracting stories off the field. This has been a very challenging season for the league to put it mildly. Hopefully the NFL will continue pushing to make its service to the community as impactful as its product on Sundays.

Super Bowl XLVIII

This Super Bowl matched up the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos and I for one thought this was going to be a great game.  There was lots of speculation leading up to this game as far as the weather was concerned.  Will it snow?  Will it rain?  Will a huge snowstorm hit the area and force the game to be rescheduled?  The answer to those questions was a resounding “NO!”  The temperature was in the 40s and there was just a slight chance of precipitation.

Seattle won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Kicker Steven Hauschka hit the opening kickoff six yards deep into the end zone and return man Trindon Holliday returned it to the 14.  Quarterback Peyton Manning led the offense on to the field and started in the shotgun formation.  As he called the signals, center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball over his head and it rolled toward the end zone.  A mad scramble ensued and running back Knowshon Moreno fell on it for a safety.  Well that most certainly was an original beginning to the Super Bowl.  A grand total of 12 seconds had run off the clock and the Seahawks were already up 2-0.

Denver punter Britton Colquitt hit a 64-yard punt that was fielded by return man/wide receiver Golden Tate at the 16.  He returned it to the 36 and quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense went to work.  Running back Marshawn Lynch got the call on first down and was brought down after a gain of three yards. From the 39, wide receiver Percy Harvin ran up the left side for a gain of 30.  That put the Seahawks at the Denver 31.  A false start penalty moved them back five yards and that was followed by an incomplete pass to tight end Zach Miller.  That was followed by a six-yard completion to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.  On third and nine from the 30, Wilson fired a bullet to Kearse and he caught it for a gain of 12 yards and a first down at the 18.  The next two plays gained four yards and on third and six from the 14, Wilson ran up the left side and was pushed out of bounds just before he got to the first down marker.  Head coach Pete Carroll challenged the spot, but it was ruled that Wilson was still just short of the marker.  Instead of going for it, Hauschka came into the game and his 31-yard field goal attempt was good.  With 10:21 to go in the first quarter, the Seahawks led 5-0.

Hauschka sent the kickoff through the end zone, but the Seahawks were penalized for unnecessary roughness.  That put the Broncos at their 35.  But three plays gained just eight yards and they were forced to punt.  The punt was fair caught by Tate at the Seattle 28-yard line.  On third and seven from the 31, Wilson threw to his left and the ball was caught by Tate for nine yards and a first down at the 40.  From the 40, Wilson found fullback Michael Robinson for seven yards.  Lynch was stuffed for a loss of one on the next play, but Wilson found wide receiver Doug Baldwin across the middle for a gain of six.  That was good enough for a first down at the Denver 48.  From the 48, Harvin caught another pass for a gain of five.  Then the Seahawks decided to get fancy and tried a crazy flea-flicker play that didn’t work.  On third and five from the 43, Wilson floated a deep pass up the left side for Baldwin who hauled it in for a gain of 36 yards.  A holding call moved them back ten yards and Lynch continued to struggle to get positive yardage.  On third and 14, Wilson looked for Kearse in the back of the end zone.  Kearse had possession of it for a second, but the ball was knocked out by linebacker Nate Irving.  That meant it was time for another field goal.  Hauschka made his 33-yard attempt and the Seahawks led 8-0 with 2:16 to go in the first quarter.

Aside from a five-yard completion to wide receiver Wes Welker, the Broncos still couldn’t get going.  On second and five from the 25, Moreno ran up the left side and the ball came loose.  The Broncos recovered it at the 23 and that set up a third and seven from the 23.  Manning looked for tight end Julius Thomas and the pass was picked off by safety Kam Chancellor at the 39.  He returned it two yards and the Seahawks set up shop at the Denver 37.  Another end around to Harvin gained 15 yards and tight end Luke Willson caught a five-yard pass.  Lynch ran up the middle for a gain of six and a first down at the 11.  Lynch was thrown for a loss of one on the next play, but Wilson found Baldwin for a gain of seven on second down.  That set up a third and four from the five-yard line.  Wilson threw to the back corner of the end zone for Tate, but the pass was incomplete.  Then a flag appeared.  Cornerback Tony Carter was flagged for pass interference and that gave the Seahawks a first down at the one-yard line.  Two plays later, Lynch ran it in for the first touchdown of the game.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks led 15-0 with 12 minutes to go in the first half.

The Broncos started at their 16 and Manning went to the air immediately.  Two completions to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and a short run by Moreno finally got the Broncos a first down at the 30.  Two more passes to D. Thomas and another carry by Moreno netted another first down at the 40.  On third and nine from the 41, Manning found Welker across the middle for a gain of 16 and the Broncos found themselves in Seattle territory.  Another catch by D. Thomas and a short carry by running back Montee Ball moved them down to the 32.  A holding penalty moved them back ten yards and a pass to tight end Jacob Tamme went for a loss of two yards.  From the 44, Moreno ran for a gain of nine.  That set up a third and 13 from the 35.  The Seahawks brought some pressure and defensive end Cliff Avril got to Manning just as he let the ball go and it was picked off at the 31 by linebacker Malcolm Smith.  That was bad for the Broncos and it got worse as Smith returned it all the way for a touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks went up 22-0 with 3:21 to go in the first half.

Holliday managed to return the ball to the 33 on the ensuing kickoff.  It looked like he fumbled, but he was ruled down before the ball came loose.  With time running short and knowing the walls were closing in, Manning knew he had to get his team into the end zone.  He spread the ball around to three different receivers and they quickly moved down to the Seattle 27.  An incomplete pass to J. Thomas, a six-yard catch by Moreno and a false start set up a third and nine from the 26.  Manning dumped a short pass to Moreno that came up two yards short of the first down.  What do you do now?  Go for the field goal?  No.  Head coach John Fox decided to go for it and Manning looked for D. Thomas.  The pass was incomplete and the Seahawks took over at their 19 with one minute to go in the half.  Two carries by Lynch ran out the clock and the Seahawks led 22-0 at halftime.

For once, I actually enjoyed the halftime show.  Good sound, good lighting and it was good to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a few minutes.  Back to return the kickoff to start the second half was the dangerous Percy Harvin.  Instead of trying to kick it through the end zone, kicker Matt Prater sent a knuckle-ball down the middle to keep the ball away from Harvin.  Nice try, but Harvin still got his hands on it.  He headed straight up the middle and returned it for an 87-yard touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks now led 29-0 with 14:48 to go in the third quarter.  To open the game, the Seahawks scored 12 seconds into the first quarter.  Then, they scored 12 seconds into the third quarter.  Interesting.

It was officially time for the Broncos to get into “panic mode.”  They went from their 23 to the Seattle 38 with little trouble.  But the Seahawk defense stiffened and forced another punt.  The punt was downed at the eight and on first down, Lynch got loose, but was tripped up at the 26.  If he had broken one more tackle, he likely would have scored.  That was the only eventful play of that possession and punter Jon Ryan got off a 45-yard punt that was fielded at the Denver 36 by return man/wide receiver Eric Decker.  He returned it to the 45 and the Broncos had yet another opportunity to put some points on the board.  On second and nine from the 46, Manning hooked up with D. Thomas for a gain of ten and a first down at the Seattle 44.  From the 44, Manning hit D. Thomas in stride across the middle.  As Thomas ran up the left side, the ball was knocked loose by cornerback Byron Maxwell and recovered by Smith at the 20 and he returned it seven yards.  The Broncos were also flagged for unnecessary roughness and that gave the Seahawks a first down at their 42-yard line.

A short carry by Lynch and a 12-yard completion to Willson moved them to the Denver 43.  From the 42, Wilson found wide receiver Ricardo Lockette for a gain of 19 and a first down at the 23.  On the very next play, Wilson found Kearse on the right side and he was the recipient of some very poor tackling.  That enabled him to find the end zone for another Seahawk touchdown.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks were now up 36-0 with three minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Broncos started at their 20 and had no choice but to throw the ball on every down.  Judging by the looks on their faces, they looked like they would rather not even finish the game.  But completions to Welker, J. Thomas and Moreno had them moving in the right direction.  A pass interference call gave them a first down at the Seattle 41.  Two more catches by Welker and one by Tamme got them a first down at the 14.  With the final seconds of the quarter ticking away, Manning took the snap and fired a strike to the end zone that was caught for a touchdown by D. Thomas.  They decided to go for two and it was good as Manning hooked up with Welker again.  At the end of the third quarter, the Seahawks led 36-8.

The Broncos tried an unsuccessful onside kick that was recovered at the Denver 48 by Miller.  From the 48, backup running back Robert Turbin rumbled up the left side for a gain of 33 yards.  But that was brought back by a holding call and it moved the Seahawks back to their 42-yard line.  Miller caught a pass for ten yards and Tate added eight more to set up a third and two at the Denver 40.  From the 40, Baldwin caught a six-yard pass for a first down at the 34.  Then Kearse got in on the action again and made a nice catch for a gain of 24 yards.  That set up a first and goal from the ten and Wilson found Baldwin who bounced off a couple of defenders and dove into the end zone.  Hauschka made the point after and the Seahawks led 43-8 with 11:45 to go in the game.  That 11:45 was also known as “garbage time.”

Neither team scored again and the Seattle Seahawks came away with a 43-8 thrashing of the Denver Broncos for their first Super Bowl win.  Malcom Smith was named MVP as he had a great game with an interception for a touchdown, a fumble recovery and six solo tackles.  Their defense as a whole played very well.  Although they registered only one sack, they pressured Manning throughout the game, forced four turnovers and rarely let the Denver receivers get loose for big gains.  All in all, it was a very impressive performance by the Seahawks and the Broncos are now the only team to lose five Super Bowls.  Their overall record in Super Bowls is 2-5.

For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson completed 18 of 25 for 206 yards and two touchdowns.  He also had 26 yards rushing on three carries.  Doug Baldwin led the team in receptions with five and receiving yards with 66 and a touchdown.  On the ground, Percy Harvin had the most rushing yards with 45 on two carries.  The Broncos did a good job of containing Marshawn Lynch as he finished the game with 39 yards on 15 carries.  18 of those yards came on one carry.  All totaled, the Seahawks rushed for 135 yards on 29 carries.  Defensively, Kam Chancellor and Malcolm Smith tied for the lead in solo tackles with six.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 34 of 49 for 280 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  Demaryius Thomas set a Super Bowl record with 13 receptions and he also had the most receiving yards with 118 and a touchdown.  There isn’t much to talk about when it comes to the Denver ground game.  Knowshon Moreno led the team in rushing with 17 yards on five carries.  They finished the game with a total of 27 yards on 14 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Danny Trevathan led the team in solo tackles with seven and he had one tackle for a loss.

And that’s that.  I enjoyed writing these playoff articles and I’ll be returning as the Raider Guy later in the year.  Up next is the combine, then free agency starts and then the draft will take place in May.  Until then, take it easy.

 

Broncos 26, Patriots 16

The first game on the schedule for championship weekend had the New England Patriots traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos.  The Patriots were coming off a dominant 43-22 win over the Indianapolis Colts and the Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers by a score of 24-17.  Denver won the toss and deferred to the second half.  The Patriots started at their 20 and gained a grand total of five yards on their first possession.  Punter Ryan Allen hit a 60-yard punt that was downed at the Denver 15.

Quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver offense took the field and immediately went in to their no huddle offense.  Short passes to wide receiver Eric Decker, tight end Julius Thomas and a three-yard carry by running back Knowshon Moreno moved the ball to the 30.  Another completion to Decker went for 21 yards and the Broncos were at the New England 49-yard line.  They went no further than that and punter Britton Colquitt sent his punt through the end zone for a touch-back.

The Patriots went three and out again the Broncos started at their 18.  Completions to Moreno and J. Thomas quickly got them a first down at the 42.  On third and ten, Manning went deep for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and the play went for 29 yards.  From the New England 29, Manning looked for Decker again and found him for ten more yards.  They would gain only one more yard and kicker Matt Prater came on for a 27-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Broncos led 3-0 with 3:43 to go in the first quarter.

After running six plays and gaining 12 yards, quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots finally got a first down as he found running back Shame Vereen for a gain of 24 yards.  On third and five from the 49, Brady completed a pass good for 18 yards to wide receiver Julian Edelman.  On third and ten from the 33, wide receiver Austin Collie caught a pass for eight yards.  However, the Patriots were flagged for offensive pass interference and that pretty much killed their momentum.  Allen punted and the ball was downed at the seven-yard line.

From the seven, Moreno ran off left tackle for a gain of 11 yards.  Moreno got the call on the next play and was stuffed for a gain of one.  From the 19, Manning threw a perfect pass to D. Thomas, but he couldn’t find the handle and the pass was incomplete.  During the play, wide receiver Wes Welker put one hell of a hit on cornerback Aqib Talib and Talib would leave the game with a knee injury.  That incomplete pass made it third and nine.  Manning completed a 14-yard pass to Welker for a first down at the 33.  On third and one from the 42, Manning threw for Decker and the pass was incomplete.  But the drive was kept alive by a holding call on the Patriots.  That gave the Broncos a first down at the 47.  A short carry by Moreno and a 12-yard pass to running back Montee Ball  got the Broncos yet another first down at the New England 39.  Two incomplete passes set up a third and ten and the Patriots were expecting a pass.  That wasn’t the case as Moreno ran off right tackle for a gain of 28 yards.  Three carries by Ball made it first and goal from the one and their 93-yard drive was capped off with a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Tamme.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 10-3 with 7:50 to go in the first half.

The Patriots went to work from their 20 and got the drive off to a good start as Brady hooked up with wide receiver Aaron Dobson for a gain of 27 yards.  A three-yard carry by running back LeGarrette Blount and a 13-yarder to Vereen moved the Patriots to the Denver 37.  Blount got the call again and was promptly stuffed again for a gain of two.  From the 35, Brady completed a pass good for 15 yards to tight end Michael Hoomanawanui.  The next two plays gained two yards and Brady was sacked for a loss of eight on third down by defensive end Robert Ayers.  Kicker Stephen Gostkowski came on for a field goal attempt and had no problem making it from 47 yards.  The Broncos now led 10-3 with 2:54 to go in the first half.

There was plenty of time for the Broncos to put up some more points before halftime.  However, Moreno was stopped on first down for a loss of one and a holding call moved them back to the ten-yard line.  But two passes to D. Thomas gained 53 yards and the Broncos were in New England territory again.  Short completions to Ball and Welker moved them down to the 26.  On fourth and one from the 17, Denver head coach John Fox opted to try a field goal instead of going for it.  Prater made his 35-yard attempt and at halftime, the Broncos were up 13-3.

About the last thing the New England defense needed was another long drive by the Broncos.  They needed to force a three and out to get the ball back in Brady’s hands.  On second and nine from the 21, Manning looked to the left side for Decker and that play was good for 18 yards and a first down at the 39.  A six-yard carry by Moreno, a five-yard carry by Ball and a 15-yard completion to J. Thomas put the Broncos at the New England 40.  Another good carry by Ball and an eight-yard pass to Decker gave the Broncos another first down at the 27.  Two more completions to J. Thomas moved them to the 15.  A seven-yard carry by Moreno and a five-yard carry by Ball made it first and goal from the three.  From the three, Manning calmly tossed a pass to D. Thomas in the end zone for another Bronco touchdown.  Prater made the point after and Broncos were looking good with a 20-3 lead with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter.

The Patriots started at their 20 and short completions to Dobson, Vereen and Collie quickly moved them to the 36.  On third and five from the 41, Collie caught another pass for a gain of 12 and a first down at the Denver 47-yard line.  A nine-yard carry and a two-yard “scramble” by Brady netted another first down at the 36.  The next three plays gained seven yards and instead of trying a field goal, New England head coach Bill Belichick decided to go for it on fourth and three.  That was a bad idea as Brady was sacked for a loss of ten by defensive tackle Terrance Knighton.

With 2:25 to go in the third quarter, the Broncos took over at their 39 and looked for another score to put the nail in the coffin.  Ball was thrown for a loss of two on first down, but Manning came back with a 14-yarder to J. Thomas.  From the New England 49, Manning went deep again for D. Thomas and he hauled it in for a gain of 30 and a first down at the 19.  From the 19, Ball ran up the middle for seven.  He gained two yards on the next play, but the Broncos were flagged for holding.  That moved them back to the 22 and Manning found J. Thomas for a gain of 14.  Moreno ran up the left side for a gain of three, but the Broncos were flagged again for holding and that moved the ball back to the 18.  From the 18, Manning found Welker for a gain of 16 to put them at the two-yard line.  J. Thomas was stopped short of the end zone on the next play and on third and goal from the one, Manning lofted a pass to the right corner of the end zone intended for J. Thomas.  He couldn’t get control of the ball and it was incomplete.  Prater came into the game again and his 19-yard field goal attempt was good.  That put Denver up 23-3 with 12 minutes to go in the game.

From the 20, Brady and the New England offense quickly got the ball rolling into Denver territory with completions to Edelman, Collie and Hoomanawanui.  From the Denver 26 Brady hooked up with Vereen two times for 19 yards and a first down at the seven.  Two plays later, Edelman got open again and Brady found him in the end zone for a touchdown.  Gostkowski made the point after and the Broncos now led 23-10 with 9:26 remaining in the game.

The Broncos started this drive from their 25 and on second and ten, Manning looked for J. Thomas and found him for a gain of 37 yards.  They got as far as the New England 36 and the drive stalled there.  Prater was called on once again and his 54-yarder was good.  With seven minutes to go, the Broncos increased their lead to 26-10.

The Patriots started out from their 20 again and three completions to Edelman and a nine-yard carry by Vereen moved them to the Denver 41.  Vereen got another carry and it was good for 11 yards and a first down at the 30.  Brady then found Collie for 18 and Edelman for seven more.  On second and three from the five, Brady took it in himself for a touchdown.  They had to go for two and Vereen came up just short.  The Broncos now led 26-16 with 3:07 remaining in the game.  An onside kick was the only thing the Patriots could do and the kick was recovered by Decker.  A 23-yard pass to Tamme and some more carries by Ball kept the clock moving and the Broncos went to win by a score of 26-16.  That win got them a ticket to the Super Bowl where they will play the winner of the San Francisco-Seattle game.

For the Patriots, Tom Brady completed 24 of 38 for 277 yards and one touchdown.  He also ran for a score.  Leading the way in receptions was Julian Edelman with ten.  Edelman also had the most receiving yards with 89 and a touchdown.  The running game that worked so well against the Colts didn’t do very well in this game.  As a team, the Patriots only had 64 rushing yards on 16 carries.  Vereen led the team with 34 yards on four carries.  Defensively, cornerback Devin McCourty led the Patriots in solo tackles with ten.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 32 of 43 for 400 yards and two touchdowns.  Julius Thomas led the way in receptions with eight and Demaryius Thomas had the most receiving yards with 134 and a touchdown.  On the ground, Knowshon Moreno led the team with 59 yards on 14 carries.  As a team, the Broncos rushed for 107 yards on 28 carries.  Defensively, linebacker Danny Trevathan led the team in solo tackles with eight.  The telling stat in this game was time of possession.  The Broncos held on to the ball for nearly 36 minutes, racked up 27 first downs and went 7 for 13 on third down conversions.  They were the better team and this will be their first Super Bowl appearance since Super Bowl XXXIII when they defeated the Atlanta Falcons by a score 34-19.

 

Broncos 24, Chargers 17

The final game on the schedule was a battle between AFC West rivals as the San Diego Chargers headed to Denver to take on the Broncos.  The Chargers were coming off a 27-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals and the Broncos were coming off a bye week.  Denver kicker Matt Prater sent the opening kickoff through the end zone and the Chargers started at their 20.  Running back Ryan Mathews got things off to a decent start with a five-yard carry.  Short passes from quarterback Philip Rivers to running back Ronnie Brown and tight end Ladarius Green got the Chargers a first down at the 33.  After a short run by Mathews, Rivers was sacked for a loss of nine on the next play.  On third and 17, running back Danny Woodhead ran up the middle for eight yards.  But they got a break as the Broncos were flagged for a facemask penalty.  The drive stalled at the 43 and punter Matt Scifres got off a 51-yard punt that was fielded at the Denver six by return man/wide receiver Eric Decker.  Decker returned the punt six yards and the Broncos went to work from their 14-yard line.

The Broncos brought out the no huddle offense and passes to tight end Julius Thomas, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and Decker already had the Chargers looking baffled.  Another completion to wide receiver Andre Caldwell set up a first down at the San Diego 29.  On third and one from the 21, running back Montee Ball ran off right tackle for a gain of five yards.  A seven-yard pass to D. Thomas and a four-yard run by Ball made it first and goal from the three.  Two plays later, Manning looked to his left and hooked up with D. Thomas for a touchdown.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 7-0 with 2:25 to go in the first quarter.

The Chargers ended up getting a grand total of minus two yards on their next possession.  Scifres punted again and the Broncos took over at their 42.  On third and two from the 50, Manning completed a short pass to J. Thomas who fumbled at the 45.  The ball was recovered at the 43 by cornerback Richard Marshall.  That was a good break for the Chargers and on the strength of some good running by Mathews and Woodhead, they moved down to the Denver 30.  On third down, Rivers was sacked for a loss of five by defensive end Malik Jackson.  That brought kicker Nick Novak into the game for a 53-yard field goal attempt.  On the attempt, his plant foot slipped and the kick sailed wide left.

The Broncos had dodged a bullet and started with good field position from their 43.  A holding call moved them back ten yards, but they got 12 of it back as Manning hit running back Knowshon Moreno out of the backfield.  This is when the offside penalties started occurring.  As usual, Manning would do his usual long counts and yell “Omaha” over and over again.  On second and eight from the 45, the Chargers jumped offside and that gave the Broncos five free yards.  On second and three, Moreno burst up the middle for a gain of 11 and a first down at the San Diego 39.  Two more carries by Ball got them another first down at the 22.  From the 22, Ball got the call again and gained four yards.  From the 18, the Chargers fell for the Omaha call again and jumped offside.  From the 13, Moreno ran up the middle for five more yards and a first and goal from the eight.  Moreno got yet another carry and gained five more yards.  Two plays later, Manning fired a pass to wide receiver Wes Welker on the left side and he took it in for the score.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 14-0 with six minutes to go in the first half.

The Chargers gained 14 yards on their next “drive” and Scifres punted again.  Decker fielded the punt at the Denver 23 and returned it straight up the middle for a gain of 47 yards.  If he hadn’t tripped over his own feet at the 30, he would have scored.  On first down, Manning hooked up with D. Thomas for nine yards.  On second and one, Moreno was stuffed for no gain.  The Broncos really needed to keep this drive going.  A 21-0 lead just might be insurmountable for the hapless Charger offense.  That’s when Manning used the magic word.  He screamed “Omaha!” again and sure enough, the Chargers jumped offside.  That made it first down at the 16.  Moreno got the call two more times and gained 12 yards for a first and goal at the four.  Moreno was stopped for no gain on first down and a pass to Decker fell incomplete.  On third down, Manning looked for Decker again, but the pass was intercepted by linebacker Donald Butler in the end zone.  The Chargers took a knee and the first half ended with the Broncos leading 14-0.

A decent kickoff return by return man Trindon Holliday gave the Broncos the ball at their 36.  A nine-yard pass to D. Thomas, two carries by Moreno and yet another nine-yard pass to D. Thomas netted a first down at the San Diego 41.  From the 41, Manning fired a strike to J. Thomas for eight yards.  On third and one from the 32, Manning found Welker at the 26 for another first down.  After that, they went nowhere and Prater came on for a 45-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Broncos were now up 17-0 with 9:35 to go in the third quarter.

With Mathews out with an injured ankle, Woodhead and Brown would get the carries for the rest of the game.  Of course, if you’re down by 17 midway through the third quarter, the running game probably won’t be of much value.  On third and three from the 27, we finally had a Keenan Allen sighting.  The rookie wide receiver hauled in a pass from Rivers for a gain of 19 and a first down at the 46.  Denver cornerback Chris Harris was injured on this play and would not return.  He was later diagnosed with a torn ACL.  But they wouldn’t get much farther and they were forced to punt again.  Scifres had the heavy wind at his back and he hit a 62-yard punt through the end zone.

From the 20, Manning found Decker on the right side for a gain of 19.  He used that magic word again and the Chargers jumped offside.  That moved the ball to the 44.  Ball ran up the middle for eight and Manning completed an eight-yard pass to Welker.  Ball carried again up the middle for four more yards and a first down at the 36.  Then the Chargers jumped offside again.  This is a recording.  Despite the lack of discipline, the Chargers tightened up and the drive stalled at the 29.  The normally automatic Prater had some trouble with the windy conditions and his kick sailed wide left.  With one minute to go in the third quarter, the Chargers got the ball back at their 37.

On second and ten, Rivers “scrambled” for six yards.  That’s something you don’t see every day.   That set up a third and four from the 43.  Rivers had time and found wide receiver Eddie Royal across the middle for a gain of 30 yards.  With Harris out, he was replaced by former Charger Quentin Jammer.  On the pass to Royal, Jammer looked totally lost.  An illegal use of hands penalty on Denver moved the Chargers five yards closer to the goal line.  Woodhead ran up the middle for six yards, but a completion to Woodhead was quickly snuffed out by the Denver defense.  On third and four from the 16, Rivers floated one up the right side and Allen came down with it in the end zone for a touchdown.  Novak made the point after and the Broncos led 17-7 with 13 minutes to go in the game.

Holliday had another good kick return, but it was brought back to the 19 because of an illegal block in the back penalty.  On third and seven, Manning went deep down the middle for Welker and the pass was incomplete.  But the Chargers were flagged for pass interference.  That gave the Broncos a first down at their 45.  From the San Diego 47 on third and two, Manning completed a 17-yard pass to J. Thomas.  This was a recurring theme in the game.  Whenever third down came up, Manning always seemed to look for J. Thomas.  The Chargers were unable to address that problem.  Manning found Welker again for six yards and Moreno ran up the left side and was pushed out of bounds at the ten.  Two plays later, Moreno took it up the middle for a score.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 24-7 with 8:12 remaining in the game.

The Chargers started out at their 20 and three plays gained five yards.  On fourth down, they had no choice but to go for it.  Rivers took the snap and fired a pass to Allen that was good for a gain of 49 yards.  On first down from the Denver 26, Rivers ran for a gain of five yards.  A short pass to Brown got them another first down at the 16.  From the 16, Rivers hooked up with Allen again and this time it was good for another touchdown.  Novak made the point after and we had the makings of a close game.  With 5:43 to go, the Broncos led 24-14.

The Chargers tried an onside kick and Marshall came up with the ball.  Rivers and the offense went to work from their 40-yard line.  On second and 14 from the 36, Rivers tossed a 17-yard completion to Allen for a first down at the Denver 47.  Allen wasn’t done and on second and five, he caught another pass for 25 yards and a first down at the 17.  The drive stalled at the 12 and Novak was brought into the game for a 30-yard field goal attempt.  He split the uprights and that made the score 24-17 with just under four minutes remaining in the game.

There would be no onside kick this time as Novak kicked the ball deep in hopes that the defense could stop the Broncos.  From the 27, things didn’t get off to a good start for the Broncos as they were flagged for a false start.  Then Moreno was thrown for a loss of two yards.  On second and 17, Manning looked for D. Thomas and the pass fell incomplete.  That brought up third down.  Who do you think Manning will look for?  Welker?  Decker?  Moreno?  Shannon Sharpe?  None of those choices are correct.  The answer is Julius Thomas.  Out of the shotgun, Manning threw a deep ball to the right and sure enough Thomas grabbed it for a gain on 21 and a first down at the 41.  That was a damaging blow to the hopes of Charger fans.  Moreno ran up the middle for a short gain and the Chargers called their second timeout.  Moreno got the call on second down and was held to a minimal gain.  The Chargers called their final timeout.  Uh-oh.  It’s third down again.  You don’t think that evil #80 is going to get the ball again do you?  It was third and six and Manning knew a first down would get them a win and a ticket to the AFC championship game.  He calmly took the snap out of the shotgun and completed a nine-yard pass to J. Thomas yet again.  That did it.  The Chargers couldn’t stop the clock and a couple more runs by Moreno and a kneel down by Manning ended the game.  Final score: Broncos 24 Chargers 17.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 18 of 27 for 217 yards and two touchdowns.  Keenan Allen led all receivers in receptions with six and receiving yards with 142 and two touchdowns.  As a team, the Chargers rushed for just 65 yards on 18 carries.  Danny Woodhead was the leading rusher with 29 yards on nine carries.  Their longest gain on the ground was a 16-yard carry by Ryan Mathews.  Defensively, cornerback Marcus Gilchrist led the team in solo tackles with seven.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 25 of 36 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Demaryius Thomas had the most receptions with eight and Julius Thomas had the most receiving yards with 76.  The Broncos had a good day on the ground as they totaled 133 yards on 34 carries.  Knowshon Moreno was the leading rusher with 82 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.  Defensively, cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey tied for the lead in solo tackles with four apiece.  The Broncos sacked Rivers four times and defensive end Shaun Phillips led the team with two.

Well, the road to the Super Bowl goes through Denver.  Tom Brady and the Patriots will be in Denver on Sunday and I look forward to what should be a high scoring game.

 

How Explosive is the Denver Broncos Offense?

Just how explosive is the Denver Broncos offense? Does their offense remind you of the days when you played Madden on Xbox as a kid?

After eight games, Denver is 7-1 and scored at least 33 points in each of their games. Last year Denver never eclipsed the 40-point mark during their 13-3 regular season. This year Denver averages 42.8 points per game. The fewest points Denver scored this season is 33 which came against the Indianapolis Colts on October 20, their only loss of the season.

Denver demolished the Washington Redskins 45-21, including a franchise-record 31 points in the fourth quarter after trailing 21-7 halfway through the 3rd quarter.

They became just the fourth NFL team to score at least 50 points in consecutive games. Denver scored 51 points against the Dallas Cowboys on October 6. The week before Denver racked up 52 points against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Prior to this season, Denver scored 50 points just once in franchise history. Denver has scored at least 40 points in five out of their eight games played.

Denver has scored 343 points, most ever by any team eight games into a season. If Denver continues their pace, they will score nearly 700 points this season. No NFL team has scored 600 points in a season.

QB Peyton Manning has thrown 29 touchdowns to 6 interceptions with 2,919 yards passing. Could we possible witness 60 touchdown passes with 6,000 yards passing? After eight games Manning averages nearly 365 yards passing per game. Three players have contributed with at least 45 receptions and are on pace for over 90 receptions.

In Week 1 against the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, Manning threw 7 touchdown passes, tying an NFL record. The Broncos become the first team in NFL history with three players catching at least two touchdown passes from the same quarterback. Manning becomes the first quarterback ever with three career games of six touchdown passes.

In Week 2, Peyton played his younger brother Eli and the New York Giants. Manning became the third quarterback ever to achieve 60,000 passing yards while doing it in the fewest games played. Dan Marino and Brett Favre are the others to throw for over 60,000 yards.

Two weeks later, Denver demolished the Philadelphia Eagles 52-20. It was the most points scored in a game by the Broncos in their 54-year history. After four games in September, Manning had thrown 16 touchdown passes to zero interceptions, an NFL record to start the season for most touchdown passes thrown without an interception.

Then in Week 5, Denver Broncos stay undefeated when Matt Prater kicked the game winning 28-yard field goal as time expired in Denver’s 51-48 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams combined to score 99 points, tied for the 4th most combined points scored in an NFL game.

In that game, Peyton Manning completed 33 out of 42 passes for 414 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. It was Manning’s first interception compared to 20 touchdown passes this season. Manning’s 20 touchdown passes are the most ever through five games to start a season.

With Manning’s 414 passing yards, it is his 10th career game with at least 400 yards passing, tying him for second with Drew Brees. Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino holds the NFL record with 13 career 400-yard passing games. Also Manning moved into second place in career passing yards with 61,371, trailing Brett Favre’s 71,838 passing yards.

Overall Manning has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 10 straight games, including the final two regular season games of the 2012 season. The Broncos have scored 30+ points in 11 straight games. Denver is 18-1 in their last 19 regular season games.

The fun continues today when the Broncos play the San Diego Chargers.

 

Broncos 37, Raiders 21

Week three had the Oakland Raiders traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos in a Monday night match-up.  The Raiders were coming off a 19-9 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Broncos were coming off a 41-23 win over the New York Giants.  The Raiders won the toss and elected to receive.  What I was hoping to see from the offense  in this game was some nice long drives.  Run the ball and keep the chains moving.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Two incomplete passes and a short run by running back Darren McFadden got them a grand total of four yards on their first “drive.”  Punter Marquette King came on and punted the ball away.  Return man Trindon Holliday fielded the punt at the Denver 25 and returned it 20 yards to the 45.

On to the field trotted quarterback Peyton Manning and the Denver offense.  With good field position, things were looking good for Denver already.  A holding penalty moved them back ten yards, but two completions to wide receiver Eric Decker got them a first down at the Oakland 36.  Two short runs by running back Knowshon Moreno set up a third and five from the 31.  The Broncos didn’t even have to run a play on third down because the Raiders fell for the Manning hard count and jumped offside.  That gave them a first down at the 26.  A 22-yard pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas got them a first down at the four-yard line and two plays later, Manning found Decker wide open in the end zone for a Bronco touchdown.  Kicker Matt Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 7-0 with 10:28 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders took over at their 20 and on third and seven from the 23, quarterback Terrelle Pryor completed an eight-yard pass to tight end Mychal Rivera.  Not so fast.  Rivera was flagged for offensive pass interference and that moved them back ten yards.  Undeterred, Pryor fired a pass over the middle to wide receiver Brice Butler.  He was wide open, but he dropped the ball.  King punted and the Broncos took over at their 37.  They got as far as the Oakland 46 before they were forced to punt.  Punter Britton Colquitt got off a high kick that was fair caught at the Oakland nine-yard line.

Two runs up the middle by McFadden and a short completion to wide receiver Denarius Moore meant that the Raiders were going nowhere again.  Holliday fielded King’s punt at the Denver 33 and returned it eight yards to the 41.  Some more running by Moreno and rookie running back Montee Ball got the Broncos a first down at the Oakland 46.  They got as far as the 35 and the drive stalled there.  Prater made his 53-yard attempt and the Broncos now led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Starting at his own 20, Pryor decided it was time to change things up a bit and he scrambled up the left side for 23 yards.  They continued to try and get some positive yardage on the ground by running McFadden up the middle and each time, he was swallowed up by the Denver defense.  There was simply nowhere for him to run up the middle.  Why not try a pitch to the outside?  Hell, just run off tackle and see if you can get some yards that way.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Well, I was going insane just watching that garbage play calling.  They got as far as the Denver 45 before they were forced to punt yet again.

With 12 minutes to go in the second quarter, Manning spread the ball around to Thomas, running back Ronnie Hillman and wide receiver Wes Welker.  A ten-yard completion to Welker got them a first down at the Oakland 23.  Two runs up the middle by Hillman netted them a first down at the 12.  From there, Manning found Welker wide open in the end zone.  That was entirely too easy.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos now led 17-0 with 7:27 to go in the second quarter.

The Raiders took over at their 20 and needed something good to happen.  Well, on third and three from the 27, Pryor felt some pressure, stepped up in the pocket and hit Moore across the middle.  Moore evaded the defense and ran up the right side for a 73-yard touchdown.  For the first time all night, I smiled.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Broncos now led 17-7 with 5:57 to go in the second quarter.  That smile disappeared quickly as the Broncos also proved they could score quickly on their next drive.  On first down from the 20, Manning looked to his right and found Decker for a 61-yard completion.  Cornerback Mike Jenkins was in position to pick the pass off, but slipped just as the ball got there.  Three plays later, Manning looked for tight end Julius Thomas and found him for a 13-yard touchdown.  The Broncos now had a commanding 24-7 lead with 3:40 to go in the half.

The Raiders did nothing on their next possession and punted the ball away.  The Broncos got the ball at their 39 with just under two minutes remaining.  Passes to Welker, Decker and Moreno moved the ball to the Oakland 27.  They would only get as far as the 23.  Prater had no problem with his 41-yard field goal attempt and the Broncos led 27-7 with 19 seconds left in the half.  Pryor did manage to complete a couple of passes before time ran out, but he was sacked on the last play of the first half.

The Broncos started the first drive of the second half at their 24.  On second and ten, Manning found J. Thomas for a gain of ten.  A short run by Moreno and a 13-yard pass to D. Thomas made it first down at the Oakland 49.  A completion to tight end Jacob Tamme and a six-yard run by Hillman gave them yet another first down at the 38.  Manning fumbled the snap on the next play, but he quickly recovered it for a loss of two yards.  Two more completions to D. Thomas put them at the 26.  The drive came to an end at the 21 and Prater made the 39-yard field goal attempt.  The Broncos now led 30-7 with 8:41 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders netted a grand total of minus nine yards on their next possession.  That meant it was time for Mr. King to punt the ball again.  He got off a nice 66-yard punt and Holliday returned it six yards.  The Broncos were flagged for a block in the back and that moved them back to their 13.  That didn’t seem to bother Manning too much.  Two more completions to Decker and runs straight up the middle by Ball moved them into Oakland territory again.  A pass interference penalty on rookie cornerback DJ Hayden gave them a first down at the 13.  Then, after so many unsuccessful attempts to get to Manning, defensive end Lamarr Houston finally did.  He beat backup left tackle Chris Clark and sacked Manning.  The ball popped loose and was recovered by defensive end Jason Hunter.  He picked the ball up and started to head the other way.  Unfortunately for him, he slipped and was brought down at the Denver 30.

A five-yard run by McFadden, a 20-yard pass to Rivera and a 29-yard pass to Butler gave the Raiders a first down at the Denver 16.  From the 16, McFadden took the hand-off, ran to his right and threw a perfect pass to fullback Marcel Reece for a touchdown.  See what happens when you force a turnover?  You can give the offense some momentum and they may even score a touchdown.  Interesting concept, right?  For the record, that was their first fumble recovery of the year.  Janikowski made the point after and the Broncos now led 30-14 at the end of the third quarter.

The Broncos took over at their 20 and decided to give their running backs some playing time.  Runs by Ball and Hillman and a 32-yard pass to Welker got them a first down at the Oakland 20, Hillman got the call two more times and found the end zone on a one-yard run.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos now led 37-14 with 11:27 to go in the game.

The 21-yard line was where the Raiders started their next drive.  Completions to Moore, Butler and wide receiver Rod Streater moved them to the Denver 36.  On second and eight, Pryor was flushed out of the pocket, ran to his right and hit Streater right on the money for a gain of 28 yards.  On first and goal from the six the Denver defense stiffened, Pryor looked for Moore, but the ball fell incomplete.  On second down, Pryor tried to take the ball in himself, but he got his bell rung and was thrown for a loss of two.  Looked like there was some helmet to helmet contact, but there was no flag on the play.  On third down, Pryor found Streater for a gain of seven, and that made it fourth and goal from the one.  On fourth down, Pryor threw to his right for Moore, but the pass fell incomplete.  Pryor would leave the game after this drive with a possible concussion.  The Broncos took over at their one-yard line.

With 5:30 to go in the game, Ball saw some more action and netted 23 yards on four carries.  Throw in a nine-yard completion to D. Thomas and the Broncos were moving yet again.  However, on second and five from the 33, Ball was hit by linebacker Kevin Burnett and the ball came loose.  Jenkins recovered it and returned it to the Denver 15.  On the return, Jenkins tried to lateral the ball to safety Brandian Ross, but it was ruled an illegal forward pass and that moved them back to the 20.  With Pryor gone, quarterback Matt Flynn was inserted into the game.  On second and ten, Flynn found Reece across the middle and he was dragged down at the one-yard line.  Two plays later, McFadden dove into the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.  Janikowksi made the point after and the Broncos now led 37-21 with 1:15 to go.  An onside kick was unsuccessful and the Broncos took over for a couple of kneel downs.  That ended the game and the Broncos improved to 3-0.  The loss dropped the Raiders to 1-2.

For the Raiders, Terrelle Pryor completed 19 of 28 for 281 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.  He also led the team in rushing yards with 36 on four carries.  It was a horrible night on the ground for the Raiders as they only totaled 49 yards rushing on 17 carries.  23 of those yards came on one play.  The best play by a Raider running back was the touchdown pass by McFadden.  Denarius Moore led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 124 and a touchdown.  Defensively, linebacker Kevin Burnett led the team in solo tackles with ten and a forced fumble.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 32 of 37 for 374 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.  Ronnie Hillman led the way on the ground with 66 yards on nine carries and a touchdown.  As a team, the Broncos rushed for 164 yards on 35 carries.  Demaryius Thomas led the Broncos in receptions with ten and Eric Decker had the most receiving yards with 133 and a touchdown.  Defensively, linebacker Nate Irving led the team in solo tackles with six and one tackle for a loss.

What I was hoping for certainly didn’t come true.  I was hoping the Raiders could run the ball, control the clock and rack up some first downs to keep the chains moving.  The exact opposite happened.  It was the Broncos who moved the chains and held on to the ball.  They had 31 first downs and won the time of possession battle 35:24 to 24:36.  The Raiders also couldn’t get to Manning.  He was sacked only once.  Granted, it was a very productive sack as it forced a fumble.  But, you need to get to Manning a lot more than that to get him rattled.  The Broncos managed to sack Pryor three times.  Like Jon Gruden said near the end of the broadcast, this was a game between a young rebuilding team and a team that looks destined for the Super Bowl.  I definitely agree with that assessment.  All the Raiders can do is move on.  They need to put this game behind them and prepare for Robert Griffin and the Redskins next week.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

NFL Week 1 Highlights

The NFL is back!

Both last year’s Super Bowl and this year’s NFL 2013 opener have something in common: Baltimore Ravens witnessing a delay.

However there is one major difference during these two delays: Baltimore being demolished by the Denver Broncos 49-27 in the season opener compared to seven months ago becoming Super Bowl XLVII champions.

The 2013 NFL season went through a 33-minute lighting delay before the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens played the Denver Broncos on the road. Baltimore becomes the first Super Bowl championship team in ten years to start their season on the road since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003.

Denver wanted to redeem last year’s divisional playoff loss in overtime against Baltimore. Not only did they redeemed last year’s loss, but they gave the Ravens the worst season opening defeat ever by a Super Bowl champion.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had a historic game, achieving several records during the 49-27 victory. Manning threw for a NFL game-tying record seven touchdown passes for 462 yards. Only five quarterbacks have thrown seven touchdowns in a game and was last achieved by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp against the Baltimore Colts on September 28, 1969. 

The Broncos are the first team in NFL history with three players catching at least two touchdown passes from the same quarterback. Manning’s first two passes went to tight end Julius Thomas, which were his first two touchdowns of his NFL career. After the Broncos blocked punt in the third quarter, Manning’s fourth and fifth touchdown passes went to newly acquired wide receiver Wes Welker. To put the game out of reach, Manning completed his final two touchdown passes to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Overall, there were 63 touchdown passes in Week 1, the most ever in any week in NFL history.

 

Other Records Achieved During Manning’s 7-Touchdown Game

-1st quarterback with three career games of 6 Touchdown Passes

-23rd career game with 4+ Touchdown Passes, tied for 1st with Brett Favre

-7th career game with 5+ Touchdown Passes, tied for 1st with Drew Brees

-Extended his NFL record with his 73rd career 300-yard passing game

-Extended his NFL record 74th career game throwing 3+ touchdown passes

 

Unique Debuts

They are other players who achieved or extended personal records and streaks during Week 1 of the NFL season. Newly acquired wide receiver Anquan Boldin for San Francisco 49ers had 13 receptions for 208 yards in the 34-28 victory over the Green Bay Packers. 

Boldin becomes the first player in NFL history to receive over 100 yards in his debut with three different teams (217 for the Cardinals, 110 for the Ravens, and 208 for 49ers). Only one other player has received for over 100 yards in their debut for two teams: Randy Moss (130 for the Raiders and 183 for the Patriots). Boldin has two career games of 200+ receiving yards, both of them occurred during Week 1 of the NFL regular season.

 

Extended Personal Streaks and Records

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne extended his streak of 65 consecutive games with at least three receptions.  Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter ranks second at 58 consecutive games with at least three receptions. Wayne is 23 receptions away from 1,000 in his career. 

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Brees has 36 career games of 350+ passing yards, most in NFL history.  He is also one of six quarterbacks with at least 100 career games of 2+ touchdown passes and ranks 3rd among active quarterbacks behind Manning and Tom Brady. 

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson had 12 receptions for 146 yards in the Texans comeback victory over the San Diego Chargers. Johnson is the first player ever with 19 career games of at least 10 receptions.  He is the active leader for most 100-yard receiving games with 45.

 

The Slowly Approaching Good Days

The NFL has released its 2013 schedule, officially providing Jon Gruden with a five-month countdown to calm down to the point of broadcast coherency.

The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens will play the season opener on Thursday, September 5th, in Denver against the Broncos, whom the Ravens outdueled in an epic double-overtime divisional playoff game last January.

There are unconfirmed reports that 76,000 Broncos fans have already found their seats for the season opener but in fact they have been frozen in shock at Sports Authority Field (along with Rahim Moore and Tony Carter) since that January 12th loss.

The Broncos will be facing a much different Ravens team this time, though.  Ray Lewis is gone and so are Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger, Matt Birk, Dannelle Ellerbe, Cary Williams and most of Steve Biscotti’s money.

Biscotti celebrated Baltimore’s Super Bowl win first by buying new light bulbs for the Superdome and then gave a $126 million contract to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.  Flacco is due to portray Johnny Unitas in an upcoming movie and is rumored to be willing to give at least $63 million to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for a seat at Maggie Smith’s table at the 2015 Golden Globes.

The Super Bowl winner always plays the first game of the new season and usually at home, but the Ravens will be on the road because their baseball counterparts, the Baltimore Orioles, refused to reschedule their September 5th home game against the Chicago White Sox.  It’s very strange that the Orioles swallowed a big drink of the “won’tbugdees” because usually the only ones to say “no” to the NFL are Charlie Ward and the 3.8 million people of Los Angeles.

After the Broncos and Ravens get the 2013 season off to a high-scoring, bubbly beginning, other intriguing Week One matchups include Falcons @ Saints, Packers @ 49ers, Giants @ Cowboys and, in the Monday Night Football doubleheader, Texans @ Chargers and Eagles @ Redskins, a game which could feature Robert Griffin III relaxing on the sidelines in a hyperbaric featherbed alongside Stephen Strasburg.

The Broncos and Ravens not only start the season on Thursday night but are the only teams with two Thursday night games, with the Broncos hosting the San Diego Freezing Our Bolts Off on December 12th and the Ravens will host the Steelers on Thanksgiving night after the nation has already gobbled up Packers @ Lions and Raiders @ Cowboys.

Technically, however, the opening game on Thursday, September 5th between the Broncos and Ravens is not a Thursday game and neither is the Thanksgiving game between the Ravens and Steelers.  The NFL is so powerful it can even change a Thursday to a Sunday as Broncos-Ravens is listed as a Sunday night game because it’s on NBC, same with Ravens-Steelers, whereas other Thursday night games are on NFL Network.

Cool?  Disturbing?

So, depending on how you look at it, like say, if you think Thursdays really are Thursdays, the Ravens will make two Thursday appearances during the 2013 season.  Or, if you insist that Thursday is only a Thursday unless it’s called a Sunday, then they don’t make any.   The Ravens do play an actual Sunday night game on Sunday, December 22nd at home against the Patriots but never play an actual Thursday game on a Thursday.

Please write that all down.

What about Mondays?  The Ravens are scheduled to play on one of those and it will be on Monday – yes, really – December 16th in Detroit.

The first person to say, “what about flex scheduling?” gets a thumb in their eye.

Who cares, right?  We live in a 24/7/365 world of pigskin.  The calendar doesn’t list NFL games; rather it’s the NFL season that gives meaning to the rest of the year.

The NFL is king.  Baseball, basketball, hockey, politics, the stars and moon are mere satellites orbiting Planet Goodell.  The NFL plays on Thursdays, Sundays, Mondays and Saturdays and is on our minds and in our hearts on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and every day.

It’s a good life.