Good Morning, Broncos fans! It all went according to plan yesterday, as Denver was able to exploit the Raiders' struggling run defense to the tune of 298 rushing yards, won the turnover battle (three Carson Palmer INTs to no Denver giveaways) and got a big special teams play in the form of an 85-yard Eddie Royal punt return to beat the Raiders 38-24 (box score). In other words, the Broncos finally turned the tables on Oakland and beat them at their own game, physically outmatching them for the first time in over two years.
Willis McGahee gashed Oakland for 163 yards and two scores, while Tim Tebow added 117 rushing yards and two sharp TD passes, one each to Eric Decker and Royal. Tebow took just two sacks and did not fumble, clearly playing better than he had against Detroit even if he still threw some brutal passes throughout the game; Tebow ended up with a 98.1 QB Rating for the game and is now 2-1 as a starter this year (3-3 for his career) with both wins coming on the road (Denver won only one road game last year, at Tennessee).
Like the season opener, yesterday was a penalty fest, with the two teams combining for 26 accepted infractions. In their two meetings, Oakland had 30 accepted penalties for 261 yards which gave Denver 10 first downs (four yesterday).
It remains to be seen how often the Broncos can reprise their winning formula from yesterday, and when/whether opposing defenses will have a response for the zone-read Denver utilized to such devastating effect yesterday, but for now they're right in the thick of things in the AFC West, with trips to KC and San Diego sandwiching a home game against the Jets. Denver (3-5) sits just one game out of first place in the AFC West after the Chargers fell short in their frantic comeback attempt against the Packers and the Chiefs got punked by the previously winless Dolphins. San Diego, KC and Oakland are now all 4-4.
Not only were Champ's picks his first of the season, but Elvis Dumervil notched 1.5 sacks, the first since he signed his big contract in 2010.
Andrew Mason shares his observations, notes, and some numbers from the win. Rahim Moore suffered a concussion on the first play from scrimmage, while Spencer Larsen injured his shoulder and did not return.
Jeff Legwold points out that Denver can't afford to allow three TD passes and 332 yards and expect to win very often.
Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle says even the Broncos' players don't know what to think of Tebow, and he writes that Oakland had prepared all week for the zone-read, even if they were completely inept at stopping it yesterday.
Green Bay jumped out to a big early lead on San Diego thanks to two pick-sixes of Philip Rivers, who ended up throwing four TD passes. The Packers held on for a narrow 45-38 victory which they capped with a third INT of Rivers in the closing seconds, taking it back 76 yards and just six yards shy of yet another defensive score. Aaron Rodgers also had four TD passes but zero turnovers, and he's thrown a whopping 24 TD passes through eight games. Remarkably, these Packers are the first team in NFL history to win 14 straight games without ever trailing in the fourth quarter, while Matt Bowen considers what's ailing Green Bay's defense.
KC was stunned at home by the Dolphins, who got off the schneid and whipped them 31-3 thanks to three TD passes by Matt Moore. Meanwhile, apparently Brandon Marshall threw a ball at Vontae Davis' head on Saturday after the CB showed up for practice hung over and reeking of alcohol, which is presumably why Davis was left behind. Adam Teicher recaps the game for the KC Star, Kent Babb details the Chiefs secondary's struggles, and Sam Mellinger says the Chiefs are meh.
The Jets defense stifled Buffalo's offense and took the ball away three times in their 27-11 victory.
Tony Romo threw two second-half TDs to lead Dallas to a 23-13 win over the Seahawks.
Houston jumped on Cleveland early and cruised to a 30-13 victory, getting 239 rushing yards from Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Julio Jones caught his first two NFL TD passes as the Falcons routed the winless Colts 31-7.
The Saints remain a game ahead of Atlanta, and they're now two games up on Tampa Bay after beating them 27-16.
San Fran earned their sixth straight win by pounding out a victory over Shanny's punchless Skins, 19-11.
Cincinnati outscored Tennessee 17-0 in the second half, Andy Dalton threw three TD passes, and the Bengals beat the Titans 24-17 in Nashville.
Arizona beat St. Louis 19-13 in OT on a 99-yard punt return TD (his third of the year) by Patrick Peterson, after Calais Campbell blocked a Rams FG attempt which would have won the game only moments earlier.
Eli Manning and the Giants reprised their SB 42 victory by defeating the Pats 24-20 in an early snoozefest that turned into a shootout late, capped off by a TD pass in the final minute.
Joe Flacco drove the Ravens 92 yards and hit Torrey Smith for a game-winning TD with eight seconds left to beat Pittsburgh 23-20.
NFL.com summarizes the day's notable injuries.
Peter King, Mike Silver, Jason Cole, Don Banks, John Clayton and Clark Judge wrap up the day's action, plus MJD's best and worst players of the day. Judge interestingly points out that Tebow attempted no passes in the fourth quarter yesterday, while Cole doesn't want to hear Tebow fans claiming the guy is a legit QB yet.
Mike Lombardi says Peyton Hillis' personality issues are nothing new and were part of the reason Denver traded him to Cleveland in the first place. In Silver's above-linked column, he suggests the Browns could place Hillis on IR as soon as this week to move on from him.
PFW's Insider column includes sharp criticism of Hue Jackson's recent personnel moves and suggests the Raiders install a GM immediately (a little late for that, with the trade deadline having passed).
Jim Armstrong has been implicated as a client in a major Denver-area sports betting operation, and his career is at the DP is over after 27 years.