Dec 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) calls out the play against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders Defense Has No Answers For Peyton Manning


The Oakland Raiders’ 2013 season has mercifully come to an end on the heels of a six-game losing streak that was capped off by a 34-14 beat down by the rival Denver Broncos. The Raiders got steamrolled by a surging Broncos’ team that jumped out to a 31-point lead at half. Coach John Fox would pull most of his starters in the second half, as the game was well in hand. Terrelle Pryor would get the nod as the starting quarterback in the finale and he had a performance to forget with his lone scores coming in garbage time.

Here are the ‘X-Factors” for each team in the Raiders’ loss to the Broncos on Sunday:

1. Peyton Manning‘s “historic” day rolls over the Raiders’ defense:
Manning came into the game with the single-season passing touchdown record already in hand and needed just 265 to tie the single-season passing yard record. It would not take long, as it would just take one half of football to make quick work of the Raiders’ defense.

Manning and the Broncos’ offense were near perfect. They would boat race the Raiders on the back of five straight scoring drives in the first half. Manning would connect with Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno on two straight touchdown passes in the first quarter. He would then lead them on a methodical drive down the field for 34-yard field goal. He would then cap off his great first half with back-to-back touchdowns to Demaryius Thomas, including one from 63-yards out.

Manning would finish the half with a stat-line of 25 completions on 28 attempts for 266 yards and four touchdowns. The mind-boggling stat is the fact that he had more touchdown passes than incompletions. The 266 yards gave him the single-season passing yard record by a single yard.

On the year, Manning finished with a 68.3 completion percentage nearly 660 attempts for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. Those are numbers you see in the high flying college game or on Madden football. He then decided to finish his season off with a video game like performance in the first half against the Raiders.

This game is another in a string of recent poor performances for the defense and could spell the end of the Dennis Allen era in Oakland.

2. Terrelle Pryor struggles in his return to the starting lineup:
Pryor got his first start since the Raiders’ loss to the New York Giants in week 10, as Matt McGloin took over the starting spot for the last several weeks. Pryor saw some opportunities with some rotational snaps in games against the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs. He was largely ineffective in those chances, as he went 3 for 10 for 32 yards and an interception, while adding 23 yards on six carries on the ground.

His start against the Broncos was a lot of the same, as he failed to provide a spark to the offense and failed to be the answer for the questions surrounding the Raiders’ quarterback position. The Raiders managed just 53 yards of total offense in the first half alone, as the Broncos’ offense and defense stunned the Raiders on both sides of the ball.

The Broncos would call off the dogs in the second half and Pryor would fail to capitalize with many of the Broncos backups in the game. The Raiders’ first decent drive came at the start of the fourth quarter, when they managed an 11 play drive that ultimately ended in a turnover on downs.

Pryor would find some rhythm at the end of the game with two straight touchdown drives, but it was too late to have any impact on the game. It is more worrisome than it is a sign of positive change, as Pryor could not manage any semblance of effectiveness until garbage time against the backups of the Denver defense.

The Raiders are going to be facing a lot of questions as they head into the offseason. They could easily be searching for a new coaching staff, which could mean changes coming at the quarterback position. No quarterback really seized the starting quarterback position, as they failed to show they deserved the chance to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Matt McGloin looked like he has potential that whichever coaching staff is in place will want another look next year. While, Pryor’s time may be coming to an end as his regression during the season is worrisome.

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