Denver vs. Oakland: Broncos Plumage Raiders in Season Opener

Andrew GloverCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2008

Jay Cutler’s favorite target last season, Brandon Marshall was suspended for last night’s game. However, Cutler found a new favorite target in rookie Eddie Royal as the Denver Broncos defeated the Oakland Raiders 41-14.

Royal dominated the Raiders’ secondary, catching nine passes for 146 yards and one touchdown. Royal’s 146 yards was a week one high.

On the Broncos’ opening drive, Royal caught three passes for a total of 49 yards including scoring the opening touchdown of the game on a 26-yard pass.

On the Raiders’ first drive, they looked like they were going to drive to tie the score. Solid runs by fourth pick Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas kept the Raiders moving downfield. On third and seven, JaMarcus Russell fumbled and Ebenzer Ekuban recovered giving the Broncos the ball back.

Running back Andre Hall started moving the ball for the Broncos gaining six yards on each of his first two carries. Cutler completed a seven-yard pass to Royal and a two-yard pass to Nate Jackson. On third down and one, Michael Pittman took a hand-off from Cutler and was given the first down. However, Raiders’ coach Lane Kiffin challenged and got the play overturned and Denver punted.

On the Broncos next possession, Cutler connected with his tight end Tony Scheffler on a 72-yard pass to the Oakland four. The Raiders stopped the Broncos and Denver had to settle for a field goal to make it 10-0. Scheffler dropped a pass in the end zone, which could have made it 14-0, but it did not phase the Broncos.

The Broncos forced Oakland into a three-and-out and got the ball at their own 43. On third down and one, Cutler connected with Royal on an 11-yard pass. The Broncos gained 15 more yards when DeAngelo Hall was flagged for unnecessary roughness. After Andre Hall lost a yard, Cutler hit Royal with another pass that moved the ball to the Oakland eight. DeAngelo Hall picked up another unnecessary roughness penalty that put the ball at the four. Pittman finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run to increase the lead to 17-0.

In the second half the Broncos continued where they left off. After forcing the Raiders to punt, Denver started the drive at their own eight. Andre Hall got a first down with a 10-yard rush. After a five-yard run by Pittman, Cutler connects with Royal on a 29-yard pass moving the ball to the Oakland 48. The Broncos tried some trickery with a wide receiver-pass but Royal had to throw the ball away. On the next play, Cutler found Darrell Jackson, who after breaking one tackle took it in for a touchdown. The Broncos lead 24-0.

The Broncos added three more points on their next drive. Cutler gained 11-yards on a scramble. Andre Hall caught a 16-yard pass to the Oakland 39. Matt Prater kicked a 43-yard field goal to increase the lead to 27-0.

Oakland ended the Broncos’ shutout bid on their next possession. Russell connected with former Bronco Ashley Lelie on a 22-yard pass that moved the ball to the Denver 47. Fargas gained 12-yards on a pass to move the ball to Denver’s 35. Justin Griffith gained 11 yards on a pass to move the ball to the Broncos’ 11. Russell connected with Lelie on fourth and seven to put the Raiders on the board.

The Broncos scored two more touchdowns. Selvin Young scored on a five-yard touchdown run. Pittman got a one-yard touchdown run. The Broncos win was their first road Monday Night Football win since they beat the Kansas City Chiefs 30-7 in 1998.

Cutler was very sharp in the game. He completed 16 out 24 passes for 299 yards, and two touchdowns. Andre Hall was the leading rusher with 10 carries for 61 yards. Royal lead the team in receptions, with nine for 146 yards, and one touchdown.

Russell despite facing pressure most of the game still put up good numbers. He completed 17 passes out of 26, for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Fargas was the Raiders’ leading rusher with 18 carries for 97 yards. Griffith was the leading receiver with three catches for 39 yards.

The Broncos (1-0) return to Denver to face the San Diego Chargers (0-1). The Raiders (0-1) travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs (0-1).