Raiders vs. Broncos: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Denver

Pete SchauerCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2012

Raiders vs. Broncos: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Denver

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    Game action just completed, as the Denver Broncos (2-2) thoroughly dominated the Oakland Raiders (1-3) in an AFC West rivalry showdown.

    Peyton Manning was sensational, throwing three touchdowns and shredding the Raiders' defense while Oakland couldn't get anything going against a stiff Broncos' D.

    Next, you'll see complete grades and analysis for the Broncos, position-by-position.

    Raiders- 6   Broncos- 37    Final

Offense: A

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    The Raiders' defense never stood a chance today the way Peyton Manning and the Broncos' offense played.

    The Denver offense gained a total of 503 yards, had 26 first downs on 11 drives and converted 10-of-16 third downs.

    I was in awe watching Manning return to greatness on Sunday, just one week after questions surrounded him and the then 1-2 Broncos.

    Now with Manning back on track and the Denver offense rolling, they have some confidence heading into a Week 5 showdown at Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Peyton Manning: A+

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    Peyton Manning returned to old form on Sunday, finishing the day 30-of-38 for 338 yards and three touchdowns to scorch the Oakland defense.

    Manning hit eight different receivers on the day and finished the game with a 130 passer rating. He was never sacked and maneuvered well in the pocket to avoid pressure and make plays downfield.

    Manning was the perfect game manager, hitting his backs on check downs and finding his receivers when they were open.

    As usual, Manning took what the defense gave him, and when he didn't like what he saw, he audibled into a better option for his offense.

    Peyton Manning is back, ladies and gentleman.

Running Backs: B

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    Willis McGahee: B+

    McGahee helped Manning keep the Raiders' defense off balance, gaining 112 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. After a slow start, McGahee finished the day with a 5.9 YPC average and really emerged in the second half to sink the Raiders.

    McGahee also added six receptions for 23 yards out of the backfield for the offense.


    Ronnie Hillman: B-

    Hillman saw a fair share of carries for a team with Peyton Manning under center, getting 10 carries but gaining just 31 yards. Hillman was a part of the passing game as well, catching two passes for 32 yards, highlighted by a 29-yard catch.


    Lance Ball: B-

    Ball's 10 yards on six carries weren't impressive, but he did look good in the passing game. Ball hauled in a 14-yard touchdown reception from Manning to cap off a dominant offensive performance by the Broncos in the third quarter.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: B+

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    Demaryius Thomas: B

    Thomas' five reception, 103-yard day would have looked a lot better had he not fumbled in the open field trying to switch the ball to his off hand on his way to a touchdown.

    Regardless, any time a receiver goes over the 100-yard mark in a game, we need to tip our hats to him.


    Eric Decker: B+

    Decker had his best day alongside Manning, catching seven balls for 79 yards and a touchdown. He and Manning seemed to have great chemistry against Oakland


    Jacob Tamme: A

    Tamme was arguably Manning's best receiver on Sunday, hauling in five receptions for 38 yards. While it doesn't look impressive on paper, most of Tamme's receptions came in crucial third and fourth down situations, as he served as a security blanket for Manning.


    Brandon Stokley: C

    Stokley had a mediocre day, grabbing two receptions for 32 yards. Manning only targeted Stokley twice, so he made the most of his opportunities.


    Joel Dreessen: B-

    Dreessen had two receptions for 17 yards, but none bigger than his first quarter, 22-yard touchdown reception from Manning to get the scoring going for what turned out to be a big day for the Broncos' offense.

Offensive Line: A

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    Denver's offensive line was superb against the Raiders' pass rush, leaving Manning nearly untouched once the clock struck zero.

    Manning was never sacked and no defender on the Raiders was credited with a quarterback hit, and that's a token to the talent of the Broncos' offensive line.

    The line also did a great job of opening up holes in the rushing game, as Denver rushed for a total of 165 yards for a 4.3 YPC average.

    The only bad news that came from the offensive line on Sunday was from center J.D. Walton, who according to the Washington Post, left the game in the second quarter due to a left ankle injury.

Defense: A-

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    It's hard not to give an "A" to a defense that didn't allow a touchdown.

    The Broncos' D surrendered just 237 yards and held stud RB Darren McFadden to just 34 yards on 13 carries.

    As for Palmer, he was held to a mere 19-of-34 for 202 yards and was sacked three times for a loss of 21 total yards.

    The Denver D was credited with eight quarterback hits on the day and allowed the Raiders just one third down conversion on 12 attempts.

    It was amazing to see the Broncos just swarm Palmer and get after McFadden on the ground.

    This team could be dangerous going forward with a tenacious defense like the one that was on display today. 

Defensive Line: B

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    Derek Wolfe: B-

    Wolfe contributed to the Denver defense with two tackles, including one for a loss. He was responsible for taking the attention away from fellow defensive ends so that they could get in the pocket for pressure on Palmer.


    Kevin Vickerson: C+

    Vickerson had two tackles against the Raiders, with zero sacks and no tackles coming from behind the line of scrimmage. He made two nice tackles, but that was about it.


    Mitch Unrein: C-

    Unrein had just one tackle on the day and wasn't much of a contributor to what the Broncos did defensively on Sunday.


    Elvis Dumervil: A

    Dumervil was a huge piece of Denver's defense, recording four tackles and one and a half sacks. He also put three hits on Palmer, who took a beating against the Broncos.


    Robert Ayers: C-

    In a limited role, Ayers had one tackle and was really a non-factor in this one.

Linebackers: B+

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    Wesley Woodyard: B+

    Woodyard was tied for the team lead in tackles with six, consistently wrapping up McFadden and Raiders receivers when they came across the middle. He also split a sack with Dumervil, adding to his solid day.


    Von Miller: A-

    Miller was a thorn in Palmer's side on Sunday, recording five tackles, including one for a loss, and hitting Palmer twice. The consistent pressure in Palmer's face was what lead to a disappointing day for him and the Raiders' offense.


    Keith Brooking: B-

    Brooking was a part of five tackles and was a main reason why McFadden had a dismal day on the ground. He's always been a solid tackler (dating back to his days with Dallas) and he brought that to this Denver D.


    Danny Trevathan: C-

    Travathan played a limited role on Sunday, recording just one tackle in a backup role.

Secondary: A

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    Rahim Moore: A

    Moore played a big role in the defense, tying for the team lead in tackles (6) and not allowing any big plays over the top.


    Champ Bailey: A

    Bailey was his lockdown self, holding Denarius Moore to four receptions and 71 yards on eight targets, and of course, zero touchdowns. Bailey also added a tackle for a loss and a pass defended on the day.


    Mike Adams: B+

    Adams had himself a solid day, recording four tackles, a pass defended and a hit on Palmer. The edge blitzes from the Denver D plagued Palmer at times on Sunday.


    Chris Harris: A

    Harris played lockdown defense on the Oakland receivers, containing Marcel Reece for 54 yards on five catches on eight targets. Harris was also in on a pass defended and a sack of the Raiders' QB Palmer.


    David Bruton: B

    Bruton had just one tackle, but didn't allow any big plays to anyone in his vicinity.


    Tracy Porter: B

    Like Bruton, Porter wasn't called upon much, but he did his job when he was, recording a tackle and sticking his men to the tune of zero touchdowns.

Special Teams: B+

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    There wasn't much to be impressed with in the return game, and with Denver not punting the ball a single time on Sunday, there isn't much to go off of.

    I thought kicker Matt Prater was excellent, knocking 3-of-3 field goals through, including a 53-yarder.

    As the game went on, Leonhard and Bolden found some gaps in the return game, which was an immense improvement from their performance in the first half.

    And although they won't get the credit for it, the special teams did come up with a key punt block that resulted in seven points for the Denver offense.


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    I thought head coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio did an excellent job in their game planning against the Raiders.

    Both offensive and defensive schemes were on point, as the offense put up more than 500 yards and the defense surrendered less than 300.

    They made the right move by putting the ball (and the game) in Mannings' hands, ultimately letting him dominate the tempo, which proved to be too much for Oakland.

    After a tough first half running the ball, McCoy stuck with the run long enough for it to pay off, which was nice to see.

    Aside from an ugly punt fake, there wasn't much to complain about from the Denver coaches.

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