Broncos vs. Raiders: 8 Takeaways from Denver's 34-14 Victory over Oakland
The final score of the game is misleading—this game was over before the end of the first half.
Peyton Manning completed 25 of 28 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns with zero turnovers—all in the first half. A week after breaking the single-season touchdown record, Manning broke another record on Sunday—the single-season passing yardage record previously held by Drew Brees. Manning broke the mark on a five-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas toward the end of the first half.
The Broncos entered halftime with a 31-0 lead.
Manning sat out the entire second half, as backup quarterback Brock Osweiler came in to play the entire second half.
With the Broncos having home-field advantage clinched, what are eight takeaways from Denver's victory over Oakland in Week 17?
Peyton Manning Is Simply on Another Level
Regardless of what Manning and the Denver Broncos do in the postseason, one thing can be concluded following Manning's performance throughout the 2013 regular season—it is the greatest single-season performance by a quarterback in NFL history.
Manning finishes the 2013 regular season with an NFL-record 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 passing yards. He will likely win his fifth MVP award following his 2013 season. No player has won more than three MVP awards.
He was absolutely masterful versus the Raiders—four touchdown passes through one half of football. If the Broncos weren't blowing out the Raiders 31-0, he could have broken the record for touchdown passes in a single game—a mark he tied with seven touchdown passes in a victory over the Baltimore Ravens earlier this season.
Congratulations to Manning on an amazing season.
Outside of Manning breaking the single-season touchdown and passing yardage marks, Manning's success combined with his offensive supporting cast led the Denver Broncos to breaking a few offensive records along the way.
The Broncos needed 18 points entering this game to break the single-season points record held by the 2007 New England Patriots (589 points). The Broncos scored 34 points versus the Raiders and became the first team in NFL history to score 600 points in a single season (606 points).
Denver also broke single-season records for touchdowns and first downs in a single season. The Broncos are the only team in NFL history to have five players with 10-plus touchdowns in a single season—Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, Julius Thomas, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker.
Not only will Manning's 2013 season go down as the greatest single season by a quarterback, but the 2013 Denver Broncos offense will go down in the record books as the greatest offense in NFL history.
Defense Excels in Blowout of Raiders
When you look at Terrelle Pryor's final stat line, it looks like he actually had a good game—21-of-38 for 207 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
If you actually watched the Broncos' 34-14 victory over Oakland, you'd see it was an absolute demolition—the Broncos outgained the Raiders 315-to-55 in the total yardage department through the first half. Oakland did not score its first touchdown until there was 4:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Although the final stats will make it appear as if Oakland had a decent showing versus Denver's defense, the Broncos played about as well as they possibly could on defense. The Raiders entered this game with the eighth-best rushing attack in the NFL but finished the game with just 64 yards on 20 carries as the read-option attack sputtered to below-average results.
Denver's defense definitely won't have this easy of a time shutting down opposing offenses in the postseason.
However, it was a step in the right direction for a unit that is a major concern for the Broncos as they enter the postseason.
Brock Osweiler Looks Sharp in Relief Action
What will be lost in Manning's record-breaking performance (again) and the Broncos clinching the AFC's No. 1 seed is the performance of backup quarterback Osweiler in the second half.
The Broncos led 31-0 at the end of the first half, which meant that there was no reason for Manning to be on the field anymore. Coach John Fox inserted Osweiler in at quarterback at the beginning of the second half.
It wasn't an amazing performance. Osweiler didn't throw for four touchdowns in one half or lead the Broncos on multiple scoring drives. In fact, he led the Broncos to just one scoring drive.
The former Arizona State quarterback went 9-of-13 for 85 yards in one half of action. Despite the lopsided score, Osweiler did play against Oakland's starting defense.
Again, it's something that will be forgotten about by the time the Broncos begin their postseason in two weeks, but it was nice to see a solid showing by Denver's young—but rarely seen—quarterback.
Knowshon Moreno Was a Pro Bowl Snub
Moreno entered Week 17 ranking third in the NFL in rushing touchdowns, fourth in total touchdowns and fifth in yards from scrimmage.
The Broncos had five players elected to the Pro Bowl—Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Louis Vasquez and Matt Prater.
Moreno obviously wasn't one of those selections.
As mentioned before, Manning's performance throughout the 2013 season has overshadowed many Bronco players' contributions this season—perhaps the biggest victim of this is Moreno.
Although the fifth-year runner played just one half, he again displayed his versatility—he had six carries for 23 yards and five receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown before sitting out the entire second half.
The University of Georgia product was snubbed out of the Pro Bowl this year.
Broncos Continue to Play Safety Carousel
As the Broncos have done all season, Denver played safety carousel in its game versus the Oakland Raiders.
Duke Ihenacho, David Bruton, Mike Adams, Omar Bolden and Michael Huff all received action at safety in the Broncos' 34-14 victory victory over the Raiders.
Ihenacho left the game due to a possible concussion, while Adams left for a period of time after being shaken up.
With Rahim Moore's injury situation, it's unclear who the Broncos will favor as a safety pairing entering the playoffs.
Let's just hope whoever is in Denver's backfield, they play the deep pass a little bit better than they did in last year's postseason.
AFC West Shows Its Strength with Three Playoff Teams
Many people picked on the Denver Broncos' 13-3 record of 2012 because they arguably played in the weakest division in all of football—all three of the Broncos' AFC West rivals finished with losing records, with the Oakland Raiders finishing 4-12 and the Kansas City Chiefs finishing with a league-worst record of 2-14.
The critics can't say the same thing for Denver's 13-3 record in 2013—three AFC West teams have made the playoffs, with both wild-card teams being the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers.
Due to the Broncos possessing the AFC's No. 1 seed, Denver could play either the Chiefs or the Chargers in the divisional round of the playoffs in two weeks.
The Denver Broncos Are the AFC's No. 1 Seed
For the second straight season, the Denver Broncos will enter the postseason with home-field advantage.
The Broncos will play their divisional round playoff game on Sunday, January 12 at 4:40 p.m. Eastern Time. It will be the final playoff game of the weekend.
Denver will play either the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs or San Diego Chargers two weeks from now.
Considering what the Broncos have gone through in the two seasons Manning has been with the team, the Broncos should be more prepared for the postseason than they were last year when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round in one of the biggest upsets in NFL postseason history.
If the Broncos aren't ready, this will be the second straight season the Broncos choked away an opportunity to win the Lombardi Trophy with home-field advantage in the postseason.
And that won't sit well with anybody.
As Woody Paige of The Denver Post put it: "All that is important is that the Broncos win. The glorious team and individual achievements will be meaningless if the Broncos lose the home-field advantage for the conference championship game."
In order for people to truly appreciate the 2013 Denver Broncos, Denver's season has to end with one result—the hoisting of the Lombardi Trophy.