Good Morning, Broncos fans! For anyone spoiled by the Mike Shanahan Era in Denver, yesterday was how Broncos/Raiders games are supposed to go.
Manning had spoken during the week about faring better in the first and third quarters of games, and his teammates clearly got the message. The Broncos tallied all but six of their points in those periods, scored a first-quarter touchdown for the first time all year, and unloaded for three touchdowns in the third quarter, turning what had been a tight game (on the scoreboard, at least) into a laugher.
But the game was never in much doubt.
Denver's defense stifled Oakland, allowing just one third-down conversion out of twelve attempts, and one fourth-down conversion in the waning minutes of the game. That the team was missing wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and right tackle Khalif Barnes, undoubtedly helped their cause.
Without the downfield threat of DHB to concern themselves with, Jack Del Rio's guys swarmed Bronco killer Darren McFadden all day long, holding him to 35 yards on 14 touches. DMC had never experienced gang tackling in Denver before; yesterday, it's practically all he saw.
In Barnes's absence, Willie Smith had the misfortune of trying to block Dumervil, and that was a losing proposition from the start. Although Doom was credited with just three QB hits and 1.5 sacks (one of which produced a late fumble), he was in Carson Palmer's face for what seemed like all of the 22:35 (!) Oakland possessed the ball. Unfortunately, he did suffer an ankle injury that could hamper him going forward.
As for the players who didn't suit up for Denver - namely, Joe Mays and D.J. Williams - one has to wonder what their roles will be when they return. Mays, who will be back at Dove Valley today following his one-game suspension, was replaced yesterday by the Keith Brooking of old (five tackles), and it will be rather interesting to see if or when Mays gets his starting gig back.
Williams is more than a month away from his own reinstatement by the Ginger Hammer, but Wesley Woodyard continues to play big in his stead (six tackles, 0.5 sack).
Denver's other starting linebacker, Von Miller, what's there to say about this guy that hasn't been said? He was his exceptional self.
Amazing that Denver posted 37 points without a takeaway, although David Bruton's punt block was as good as one. It may not go down as a block statistically, but that's the kind of play we've all been hoping to see out of Bruton.
On offense, Manning & Co. were a well-oiled machine without John Fox and Mike McCoy burdening the maestro with 21 personnel or making him huddle much. Peyton threw 38 passes, and although few of them traveled more than 10 or 15 yards in the air, he was nearly perfect.
Phil Simms spoke about this during the one minute Jim Nantz's head was out of his lap, but it bears repeating - did anyone know Peyton to be this mobile? He again delivered a touchdown pass on a sprintout to his left, and he added a shockingly-good deep throw while running to his right. We all were aware of his peerless awareness and footwork in the pocket, but this added dimension of extending the pocket has been a stunning revelation.
Jacob Tamme was Peyton's security blanket of the day, with three of his five catches resulting in third- and fourth-down conversions. His other two receptions were also crucial and helped keep Denver's first two scoring drives alive.
His unfortunate fumble aside (while trying to do the smart thing), Demaryius Thomas was devastating in the WR screen game. Apparently all Jeremy Bates and Josh McDaniels needed while maddening Denver fans with their WR screens? Peyton Manning and a healthy Demaryius Thomas, that's all. BTW, Demaryius channeled his inner Eddie Mac with his ravaging block to spring Eric Decker for his touchdown.
Now would be a good time to put to rest that "Tim Tebow rejuvenated Willis McGahee's career" fallacy. After all, Willis had three of his seven 100-yard games from last season prior to the punt protector becoming the starting QB. Against Oakland, he again showed how, with his patience and vision leading him to 112 yards on 19 carries, and what rib injury?
That said, Willis did not have the speed to be of much help in the passing game. Although he was surehanded in catching all six of Peyton's passes thrown his way, they were good for a measly 23 yards, as potentially big plays were consistently and quickly cut down by Oakland's defense. A small nit, but still there for the picking.
Ronnie Hillman offered a couple of glimpses at his potential, with a tantalizing 29-yard catch and run, and a 12-yard burst out of the backfield.
It was great to see John Fox decide to go for it early on fourth-and-short, and his second-quarter challenge of a ball spot was a smart and worthwhile one. However, his choice to have Matt Prater attempt a pass on a fake field goal was a massive head-scratcher. If you want to go for it, why resort to trickery and the quarterbacking of a 5-10 kicker, when you have PMFM at your disposal?
Finally, how nice was it to have the real refs back? Broncos Land finally got back part of its Sunday, with a 2-hour, 55-minute game a welcome change following consecutive 3-hour, 27-minute marathons.
Tough break for J.D. Walton, who was starting to thrive, proving several critics wrong along the way, (including this one). Walton is done for the year with a broken ankle. At least the offense didn't miss a beat when Dan Koppen took over.
Doug Farrar, Andrew Mason, Dave Krieger, and Mike Klis recap the game; Woody Paige thinks it was about time for a Broncos blowout win; Mark Kiszla says the Broncos will stand a better chance against New England than they did last season.
At 2-2, Denver remains one game behind the Chargers, whose demise has yet again been predicted too soon. San Diego demolished the Chiefs 37-20; the Broncos will visit the Whale's Vagina two weeks from tonight, after the Broncos head to New England and the Chargers visit New Orleans on Sunday.
Kansas City - called by many fools the most talented team in the AFCW prior to the season - turned it over six times, leaving their fans furious, and their local columnists calling again for a midseason front-office overhaul.
The Pats scored touchdowns on six consecutive second-half possessions to whip the Bills 52-28.
Houston remains undefeated after their 38-14 demolition of the Titans.
Cincinnati continues to roll over inferior opponents, beating Jacksonville 27-10.
The Jets got whitewashed 34-0 by the visiting Niners, prompting Mark Sanchez's teammates to dread the inevitable Tebow talk that's coming this week. FWIW, Sexy Rexy says he's not making a change just yet. New Jersey signed troubled former Lions CB Aaron Berry following the injury to Darelle Revis.
Philly won another nailbiter, this time 19-17 over the visiting Giants. The Eagles' three wins this year are by a combined four points.
Minnesota continues to surprise, this time by beating the Lions 20-13 in Detroit for their third win.
The Rams defeated the mercurial Seahawks 19-13, making both 2-2.
Washington escaped Tampa Bay with a narrow 24-22 victory.