It was a normal day.
The Broncos beat the Raiders for the fourth straight time, and the final score of 37-21 disguised the true lack of competitiveness at Mile High Stadium. Denver held the ball for over 35 minutes and gained 31 first downs in comparison to Oakland’s 13. The game was as close as 17-7 with six minutes left in the second quarter, when the road team unsurprisingly unraveled.
Peyton Manning slayed the Raiders’ new defense with his usual pre-snap audibles and sharp timing on intermediate throws. He completed 32 of 37 pass attempts for 374 yards and 3 touchdowns while averaging 10.1 yards per toss.
Despite the Broncos missing their Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady (who’s on injured reserve), the Raiders struggled to repeat their pass-rushing success they achieved in Weeks 1 and 2. Manning was sacked and fumbled once but otherwise spotted off-balance defenders on nearly every play, and Denver’s receivers were effective breaking tackles and earning yards after the catch. The Broncos also gained 164 yards rushing, so there were faults to go around.
Oakland’s offense fared better than its defensive counterparts, but their performance was still dismal. The depleted offensive line was bullied and shoved all evening, which did Darren McFadden (12 touches for 9 yards) and Terrelle Pryor (3 sacks taken) no favors. Pryor was sharp and looked better than ever throwing downfield from the pocket, but he was constantly on the run. The quarterback did form a nice rapport with Denarius Moore who had six receptions for 124 yards and a score.
In the end, the Raiders couldn’t reach Manning, and their own front five laid out a red carpet to the backfield. These were problems noted in the preseason which finally surfaced on Monday.
While many folks would view a loss to the Broncos as a demoralizing moment, this can help the 1-2 Raiders. It proved to Pryor and crew that they’re still underdogs, and to win more games they must step up their effort and preparation.
There’s 13 regular games to go and grueling work to be done. Perspective is key to surviving the NFL season.