Broncos vs. Raiders: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Denver
Broncos 26 Raiders 13 FINAL
The Denver Broncos have completed a season sweep of the Oakland Raiders with a 26-13 win over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night. The win marks the eighth in a row for a Denver team who is now 10-3 on the year.
The Broncos will now get 10 days of rest before traveling to Baltimore to face a Ravens team looking for a first round playoff bye as well.
Click forward for game grades and analysis
Peyton Manning: B+
Peyton Manning had a solid night against the Raiders, beating them for the second time this season. He finished 26-of-36 passing for 310 yards, the 70th time he has thrown for over 300 yards in his career, an NFL record.
Manning made an excellent throw in the third quarter along the sideline to Eric Decker for a 29-yard gain. It's throws like this one that just make you marvel at the man who s the frontrunner for Comeback Player of the year and possibly, MVP of the entire league.
Knowshon Moreno: A+
When Willis McGahee went down with injury, it looked on the outside like something that would seriously hurt the team. In his absence, Knowshon Moreno has played very well, but Thursday night was undoubtedly the best game of his young career.
The coaching staff showed enough confidence in Moreno to hand him the ball 32 times on which he gained 119 yards. He scored on a one yard touchdown run in the third quarter and also caught four passes for 48 yards.
It wasn't just the numbers Moreno put up, though. He looked very good tonight, making timely cuts and even hurdling an Oakland defender at one point. Broncos fans should be very encouraged by this effort.
Ronnie Hillman: B-
Ronnie Hillman was again used sparingly in this game, carrying the ball four times for 24 yards. The Broncos are committed to Moreno at the moment and are just using Hillman to spell him briefly.
Demaryius Thomas: B
Demaryius Thomas had another good outing on Thursday, even if he was knocked out of the game for a bit. He left in the second quarter with what was deemed a shoulder injury, but he was back after halftime.
Thomas finished the night with five catches for 83 yards. Thomas seems to be getting better each week at getting separation from defenders and he is really becoming a tough matchup for anyone.
Eric Decker: B+
Decker led the Broncos in receiving on Thursday night, grabbing eight balls for 88 yards. He was targeted 9 times. Decker is becoming the perfect compliment to Thomas and together, they are one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL this year.
Matthew Willis: C
Brandon Stokley was active for this game, but he didn't get very many snaps. In fact, Willis seemed to get more. Willis was the intended receiver on Manning's lone interception, a pass that would have resulted in a touchdown had it gotten there. Willis finished with one catch for 19 yards. Whether it be Willis, Stokley or one of the tight ends, having a third option in the receiving game is something that will be a must for the Broncos against the upper echelon of the league.
Andre Caldwell: B
He only caught one pass, but how nice was it to see that? Caldwell, who was supposed to be a key free agent signing, has almost become forgotten in Denver. In the second quarter, Manning found Caldwell down the field for an 18-yard gain. Believe it or not, that was his first catch of the entire season.
Brandon Stokley: N/A
Stokley didn't have enough of a presence in this game to warrant a grade.
Joel Dreessen: A
Manning loves his tight ends. Most of the year, it's been Jacob Tamme. Tonight, it was Joel Dreessen. Both tight ends figured prominently into the game plan early on, but it was Dreessen who would catch two passes on the opening drive, the second a 6-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring.
He finished the night with five catches for 30 yards and the score.
Jacob Tamme: B
Tamme didn't figure in as much as he did against Tampa Bay, catching two passes for 24 yards. He was the one who recovered Oakland's late onside kick attempt, however, helping the Broncos seal the victory.
Ryan Clady: A
Clady continues to provide excellent pass protection for his star quarterback. He was matched up against Matt Shaughnessy in this game, whose name was hardly mentioned.
Zane Beadles: B+
Beadles is turning into a very good player for the Broncos. He was most impressive on Thursday night in the running game, which was evidenced by a great block he threw in the fourth quarter to spring Moreno for a 15-yard run on 2nd-and-19.
Dan Koppen: B
Koppen did a good job in helping Manning identify coverage. He did seem to have his hands full with defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, who was able to get a sack on Manning.
Manny Ramirez: B
With Chris Kuper being a late scratch, Ramirez got another start at guard. He is able to hold his own in pass protection, but the team is better when Kuper is out there. Still, Ramirez has done a good job when called upon this season.
Orlando Franklin: C+
Franklin was the only Broncos offensive lineman to be penalized on Thursday night, drawing a holding penalty in the fourth quarter. He was matched up against Lamarr Houston, who had a sack of Manning to go along with four tackles.
Mitch Unrein: A-
Back to back big games for Mitch Unrein? A guy most people had probably never heard of two weeks ago is making big plays for this team.
He had three tackles Thursday night and a fumble recovery. After Von Miller got to Palmer and forced a fumble, Unrein pounced on it at the Raiders' 2-yard line, setting up a 1-yard Moreno touchdown run.
Unrein got some more snaps on the goal line again as well. Could he catch another touchdown pass this season?
Justin Bannan: B
Bannan helped Denver hold the Raiders to just 61 yards rushing. His lone tackle was on Darren McFadden for a three yard loss.
Robert Ayers: C
Ayers made one tackle and it went for a loss of yardage. The team is still trying to work him into the rotation to spell Elvis Dumervil and if he can keep making plays, he could see more snaps.
Elvis Dumervil: C
Dumervil was held without a single tackle on Thursday night and was kept pretty quiet.
Kevin Vickerson: C
Vickerson was part of a stout run defense in this game, but like Dumervil, didn't record a tackle.
Derek Wolfe: N/A
Wolfe is a promising rookie who has had a good year, but he wasn't a prominent part of the game on Thursday and therefore won't be graded.
Von Miller: A
Miller is becoming a nearly unstoppable force on defense, making key plays every week. Along with the forced fumble on Palmer that Unrein recovered, Miller was in on four tackles and did a good job in pass coverage, showing he can be a complete player.
DJ Williams: B-
The team still isn't ready to give Williams the playing time he used to get prior to his suspension, but without Wesley Woodyard, he saw the field more on Thursday. Williams made five tackles, which was good for a tie for second on the team.
Keith Brooking: C+
Brooking got the start in this game with Woodyard inactive, and he has played well in spots this year. But there have also been signs of how his age is catching up to him, as McFadden came out of the backfield on the Raiders' first possession and ran right by him. Had Palmer thrown the ball where it needed to be, it would have resulted in a substantial gain.
Steven Johnson: B
Johnson has been getting more playing time due to the injuries at the position and he is making the most of it. He had a very nice tackle on special teams, introducing himself to Denarius Moore on a fourth quarter punt return.
Johnson finished the game with two tackles.
Champ Bailey: A
After the Raiders hit a long 58-yard pass to Rod Streater in the first quarter, Palmer tried to throw into the end zone on the very next play. He was looking for his tight end Brandon Myers, but Bailey stepped right in front of it for his second interception of the season. He returned it 18 yards to give Denver some breathing room as they came out on offense as well.
Tony Carter: B-
Carter saw a lot of snaps on Thursday night and led Denver in tackles with six. He also made a very alert play early in the game when Trindon Holliday muffed a punt. With two black jerseys right there, Carter still got on it first.
He did get beat for a 56-yard touchdown by Darrius Heyward-Bey in the fourth quarter.
Mike Adams: B
Adams made five tackles on Thursday and is becoming very effective up around the line of scrimmage, assisting in the running game.
Rahim Moore: B-
Moore is coming around for this Broncos team, but he is still struggling in pass coverage, seemingly way out of position on some plays. The Broncos have been victimized by the deep ball many times this season and on the play to Streater, it looked like a blown coverage and the Streater managed to get behind him.
Chris Harris: C
Coming off a big game against Tampa Bay, Harris was kept quiet on Thursday, registering just one tackle as Carter got more of the snaps.
Matt Prater: A
Prater had missed three field goals in the last two games, so watching him go 4-for-4 on Thursday was encouraging as he will no doubt need to be on his game in the postseason.
The Broncos let several opportunities slip away in the red zone, but Prater made sure they at least got something out of it. He kicked field goals from 43, 34, 20 and 33 yards.
Britton Colquitt: A
Colquitt was only called upon twice to punt the ball and he averaged 44.5 yards on those punts, placing them both inside the 20-yard line.
Colquitt came into the game third in the NFL in net punting average.
Trindon Holliday: C
Holliday has been an electric player for the Broncos in the return game, but he certainly has some ball security issues.
Holliday returned the opening kickoff 33 yards but later muffed a punt, which they were fortunate to get back.
Overall Grade: B+
It's a good thing to see Denver run such a balanced offense as they did on Thursday with 36 run plays and 36 pass plays. This will be a key element in their playoff run as any defense that faces Manning and is kept guessing is a defense that is in for a long day.
Defensively, it would be nice to see Denver keep it's foot on the gas and finish these teams when they can. The Raiders' fourth quarter touchdown allowed them to extend the game and attempt an onside kick. They experienced a similar scenario Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Denver led just 13-7 at halftime and the adjustments they made to what defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was doing were what they needed to be.
All in all, this staff is having a great year and both coordinators, Jack Del Rio and Mike McCoy may be head coaching candidates because of it.