A brutal early-season schedule gave the Denver Broncos some reprieve when the Oakland Raiders came to town on Sunday. The Broncos gave the rival Raiders an old-fashioned pounding, and by the time they were through thumping the Raiders, it was 37-6 and Peyton Manning had 338 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Manning completed 30 of 38 passes on the day, and once he had enough fun, he turned and handed the ball to Willis McGahee, who had 112 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. The Broncos didn’t punt the ball, and the only blemish was an unforced fumble by Demaryius Thomas at the end of a big catch-and-run in the second quarter.
With a big lead, the defense went to work and knocked Carson Palmer around, sacking him three times. The defense also held Darren McFadden to 34 yards on 13 carries, and Oakland’s offense didn’t score a touchdown. Denver’s defense was stifling on third down and allowed the Raiders to convert just one of 12 attempts.
About the only thing not working for the Broncos was the punt-return unit early in the game, with the first two returns netting negative one yard. After a slow start, David Bruton deflected a punt that traveled just two yards and Jim Leonhard managed to wiggle free, with returns of 12, 15 and 16 yards. The Broncos also weren’t able to execute a fake field goal late in the first half, but that hardly factored into the game.
Ronnie Hillman, who was active for the second game in a row over Knowshon Moreno, received extensive action once the the game was clearly in the win column. Hillman rushed for 31 yards on 10 carries and caught two passes for 32 yards. It appears for the time being that McGahee is going to get the bulk of the load but that Hillman might finally be working his way into playing time.
Manning’s first touchdown pass was a laser throw between two defenders to tight end Joel Dreessen, but after that, he took a more conservative approach that was equally effective. Manning found Eric Decker seven times for 79 yards and a touchdown, Thomas five times for 103 yards, Jacob Tamme five times for 38 yards and McGahee six times for 23 yards.
The Broncos more than doubled-up the Raiders in several key statistics, including total yards (503-237), first downs (26-12), sacks (3-0) and third-down conversion percentage (62-8). Oakland’s pass rush never put pressure on Manning, despite an injury to starting center J.D. Walton.
Denver’s pass defense was just as good as the rush defense and held Palmer to 56 percent passing. Palmer finished 19 of 34 for 202 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Rarely will you see a more complete performance in all phases of the game than you did on Sunday for the Broncos.
Next Sunday, the Broncos play the high-powered New England Patriots, who exploded for 45 second-half points against the Bills in Week 4. The Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning game is always interesting, and the Broncos need to prepare for a team that is much better than the Raiders to keep pace in the AFC West.
A Week 6 matchup with the division-leading San Diego Chargers looms prior to a bye week, and with two wins in their next two games, the Broncos could go into the bye in first place.