Cutler and Royal shine in Monday Night Smackdown against Raiders

Ron KnabenbauerCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2008

The Denver Broncos started the season off on a good foot on Monday night, beating down their longtime rivals, the Oakland Raiders, 41-14.

Quarterback Jay Cutler and rookie wide receiver Eddie Royal shined in the opening game for the Broncos  hooking up for a touchdown with five minutes left in the first quarter. Cutler completed 16 of his 24 passes for two touchdowns and 299 yards.

Royal, Cutler’s favorite target during the game, was the top wide out for Denver with Brandon Marshall suspended one game for multiple arrests last year.

The Raiders couldn’t find an answer for Royal, who found openings all night long, and slaughtered the Oakland secondary with 9 catches for 146 yards. In fact, Royal even attempted a pass in the third quarter during a reverse.

Cutler had a very efficient game, getting out of the pocket and finding the open man. Other than Royal, he connected with five other receivers, including a 72 yard pass to Tony Scheffler that brought the ball down to the Oakland five at the end of the second quarter.

The Broncos would settle for a field goal on the drive, and would go into the half up 17-0.

Denver would come out of the locker room with all the confidence and would score on their first drive with Cutler throwing a 48 yard pass to Darrell Jackson to put the Broncos up by 24. Denver placekicker, Matt Prater, would add his second field goal of the game at the end of the third quarter to put Denver comfortably up 27-0 going into the final 15 minutes.

Oakland’s night wasn’t totally a waste, with sophomore quarterback Jamarcus Russell putting together a nice drive of 71 yards in the beginning of the fourth that ended with an 8-yard pass to former Bronco, Ashley Lelie.

But Denver would bounce back, with their running backs getting some work done and scoring twice. Selvin Young would get his first TD of the season, three minutes after the Raiders touchdown, and Michael Pittman would add his second of the game five minutes later, to put Denver up 41-7.

Four running backs would get playing time with Andre Hall getting the bulk of the work with 10 carries for 61 yards. Young would finish up with 7 carries for 36 yards, Pittman would get 7 carries for 13 yards, and fullback Peyton Hillis would get 3 carries for 14 yards.

The Raiders would get a touchdown late, but it would be too late, as they lost horribly to their AFC rival.

Jamarcus Russell had a decent showing, completing 17 of 26 for 180 yards and two touchdowns. But stats don’t tell everything, as the Raiders offense was horrid through three quarters of play, not capitalizing on Broncos mistakes, and taking dumb (Raider like) penalties.

Actually, the Raiders had a pretty good day penalty wise, with them totaling less than a 100 yards (10 penalties for 96 yards).

But the story of the game had to be the Broncos offense, with them gaining 441 yards, and four touchdowns.

With the Chiefs and Chargers losing on Sunday, the Broncos are atop of the AFC West heading home for week 2 against San Diego, while the Raiders will head to the Midwest to take on Kansas City.