By Rich Kurtzman
The Denver Broncos were demonstrative from the first whistle, pouring it on the Oakland Raiders to the tune of 37-6.
It was the biggest margin of victory for the Broncos over the Raiders in the teams’ AFC West rivalry series in 50 years, and it was fueled by a tremendous third quarter. But is was far from just awesome offense from the men in orange and blue; the team played their best all-around game all season and earned their most dominant win.
The Broncos’ offense was outstanding from the opening kickoff on, putting up a season-high 37 points on the scoreboard at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.
Manning and Co. started out on fire, flying down field, 80 yards for the opening drive touchdown. Denver was looking to get out to faster starts rather than having to come from behind, and they did just that Sunday. The Broncos amassed 500 total yards—503 exactly—as they were unstoppable all game long, never needing to punt and only turning the ball over once.
It wasn’t all passing either, as Willis McGahee eclipsed the century mark with 112 yards and a score of his own. Eric Decker was the leading receiver, with seven receptions for 79 yards and a score, while Demaryius Thomas had 103 yards receiving as well.
Offense overall: A
Denver’s defense was beastly Sunday, only allowing six points, which all came in the first half.
In the crucial third quarter, the Broncos out-scored the Raiders 21-0, shutting the Oakland offense completely down to a total of only 11 yards and zero first downs. The Raiders went three-and-out on all four of their drives in the quarter, unable to do anything positive, having to punt over and over again.
Elvis Dumervil was the team leader with 1.5 sacks as the team got took Carson Palmer down while safety Rahim Moore led all tacklers with six.
Most impressive, the Denver D held Darren McFadden to only 34 yards rushing and four yards receiving, which is spectacular considering he’s their primary threat.
Defense overall: B+
Special teams finally showed up for the Broncos, and they receive such a high grade due mostly to one play.
In that magical third quarter, special teams ace David Bruton rushed in, pushed through the blocker and surged forward to block the Shane Lechler punt. It set up the home team with wonderful field position, on the opponent’s 18, which resulted in a touchdown.
The team didn’t get a chance to return a kickoff, and Jim Leonhard was basically ineffective on punt returns.
What pulls this grade down was the Broncos’ fake field goal pass that failed horribly, and even though it wasn’t the unit’s play call, they executed the play horrendously.
Special teams overall: B-
Peyton Manning was nearly perfect Sunday, going 30-38 for 338 yards and three scores with no turnovers.
Manning rediscovered his former self. He was confident and completely competent controlling the tempo of the game as the Broncos cruised to victory. He started off 6-8 for 68 yards on the Broncos first scoring drive, connecting with tight end Joel Dreessen on a 22-yard touchdown to finish the drive.
Throughout the entire game, Manning was on fire. He hit a litany of receivers, eight in all, with Thomas and Decker leading the way. He was highly efficient, getting that no-huddle offense to run on all cylinders, and mixing in enough runs to keep the defense off balance. The veteran’s 79 percent completion rate was a season-high, as was his 130 rating—Peyton’s playing at the top of the game once again.
Quarterback overall: A+
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.