The Denver Broncos opened up a big lead in the first quarter and never looked back, going on to a 26-13 victory over the host Oakland Raiders on Thursday Night Football.
Peyton Manning had yet another stellar performance, as the Raiders committed two critical turnovers in the game. The Broncos are now 10-3, while the Raiders are 3-10.
Early in the first quarter, the Broncos went on a 10-play, 68-yard drive that ended in a six-yard touchdown pass from Manning to tight end Joel Dressen.
After the Raiders went three-and-out, Manning and the Broncos executed a 10-play, 50-yard drive that ended in a 43-yard field goal from Matt Prater.
On the next Raiders possession, Carson Palmer was able to hit receiver Rod Streater with a 58-yard bomb. But on the Broncos' 22-yard line, Palmer followed that up with an interception, courtesy of Champ Bailey.
Denver then drove 64 yards in 10 plays, resulting in a 34-yard field goal by Prater with 13:42 remaining in the second quarter.
The Raiders found themselves in a 13-0 hole.
But following a Manning interception late in the second quarter, Palmer and the Raiders got into rhythm, going on a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Palmer's six-yard touchdown pass to Darren McFadden. The Raiders had found life, down 13-7 with two minutes remaining in the first half.
Despite a good run to close off the first half, things didn't get any easier for the Raiders in the second.
After another Broncos field goal, Palmer was sacked and fumbled on the Raiders' 2-yard line. Two plays later, Knowshon Moreno scampered in for another Broncos touchdown.
Denver went on an eight-play, 49-yard drive toward the end of the third quarter that culminated in a 33-yard field goal by Prater, making it a 26-7 Broncos advantage. (Let's just say that if you had Prater as your fantasy kicker, you did well.)
The Raiders showed some life late in the fourth quarter, going 86 yards in four plays (accentuated by a 56-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey), but it was too little, too late.
After Manning's touchdown pass to Dressen in the first quarter, Josh Dubow of the Associated Press pointed out a stat that would make any Raiders fan cringe:
#Raiders now allowed league-worst 45 pts on 1st drive of game after Manning's TD pass to Dreessen— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) December 7, 2012
Given Denver's ball-hawking ability throughout the season and Palmer's propensity to throw interceptions, it was only a matter of time before Palmer would toss a pick on Thursday night.
ESPN Stats & Info tweeted after Palmer's in interception in the first quarter:
Broncos have now intercepted a pass in 8 straight games & Carson Palmer has thrown an Int in 9 straight, both longest active streaks in NFL.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 7, 2012
Mike Klis of the Denver Post tried to get in the head of Palmer after the interception:
For Carson Palmer so far, 11 men must look like 15— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) December 7, 2012
And while Manning led the Broncos to 13 early points, Peyton's Head couldn't help but chime in:
#TNF Jump pass. Side arm. Mayock's loving it. Wait till I throw one behind my back.— Peyton's Head (@PeytonsHead) December 7, 2012
Of course, Manning made even more history in his historic career, as pointed out by the SportsCenter account:
Peyton Manning's legendary resume gets some padding tonight -- 2nd QB ever with 5,000 completions, 7th season with 30+ Pass TD.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 7, 2012
Player of the Game: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
This is a no-brainer. Peyton Manning was on cue for most of the game, passing for 310 yards and one touchdown with one interception. He had passed for 142 yards and a touchdown by the end of the first quarter. Oakland's defense hasn't played well all season, and facing Manning was only asking for trouble.
The Raiders host the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday, while the Broncos visit the Baltimore Ravens.
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