NFL Wire News

Raiders-Broncos: What we learned

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DENVER — After 13 straight weeks of pounding, grinding football, the Denver Broncos finally catch a break and the chance to move forward in the playoffs.

Running back C.J. Anderson ran for three touchdowns, helping to make up for quarterback Peyton Manning’s second game in a month without a scoring pass, and the Broncos beat the Oakland Raiders 47-14 Sunday to secure the No. 2 AFC playoff seed and a first round bye.

“To win 12 games is a good thing and this bye, I think we need it,” Manning said of the Broncos, who have gone non-stop since their lone bye during the regular season in late September.

“I think we’re a little beat up physically,” a body-sore Manning said. “I know I am. Anybody playing offensive line or defensive line for sure. I know some of our receivers can use this week to hopefully get healthy. I know that’s my plan.”

Anderson rushed for 87 yards, including scoring runs of 11, 1, and 25 yards to carry the Broncos (12-4) past the Raiders (3-13) for the seventh straight time in the longstanding AFC West rivalry. With Manning struggling to connect in the red zone, Connor Barth added four field goals.

Manning said he’s confident some rest, film review and self-examination will help resolve any offensive glitches.

“Certainly we can always get better,” he said. “You want to play your best certainly going forward. We’ve done something right to win 12 games. I don’t think you just kind of luck into that. Can we improve? Yeah. We’ll use these next two weeks to try to improve.”

Manning completed 21 of 37 for 273 yards passing but couldn’t find the end zone for the second time since his streak of 51 games with at least one touchdown pass came to an end against Buffalo on Dec. 7.

He also had a botched lateral that was returned for a touchdown by Raiders cornerback Keith McGill.

Still, the Broncos were never in any real danger of being upset and they achieved the best possible outcome for themselves heading into the playoffs.

What the Raiders said:

“You’ve definitely got to build on what we’ve got right now, and I think we will definitely do that. It’s time for us to step up, be leaders, take control and make sure we’re doing our best to make sure we have a successful season next year.” — RB Latavius Murray.

What the Broncos said:

“We’ve had a great season and now we’ve accomplished what we need to accomplish, and that’s get to the playoffs. Now it’s a restart — the restart button — and you’ve got to push it all the way down, pedal to the metal.” — DE DeMarcus Ware.

What we learned about the Raiders:

1. While the Raiders showed late-season signs of improvement, winning three straight home games, Sunday’s 47-14 loss at Denver closed the book on a winless campaign this year on the road. It also served as a reminder that the Raiders have some work to do to match up with the NFL’s top-tier teams. “That team is what we’re shooting to get to,” Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck said of the Broncos. “Hopefully, this is a lesson we take into the offseason on what it takes to win in this league.”

2. With the loss, the Raiders will have the No. 4 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. Who will be making that pick remains up in the air while owner Mark Davis contemplates whether to retain general manager Reggie McKenzie as well as decide on a new coach. Jim Harbaugh left the 49ers but he’s headed to Michigan, not across the Bay. Interim coach Tony Sparano said after the game that he’ll interview for the permanent job. How wide-ranging the changes are to the Raiders’ football operation remains to be seen but change is in the air.

–QB Derek Carr became only the 14th player since implementation of the 16-game schedule in 1978 to start every game in his rookie season. Carr finished with 3,270 yards passing and 21 touchdowns, both club rookie records.

–FB Jamize Olawale caught his first career touchdown pass last week in a win over Buffalo. He wasted no time catching a second. He caught a 1-yard pass from Derek Carr for the Raiders only offensive touchdown in Sunday’s 47-14 loss at Denver. –The Raiders extended their road losing streak to 11 games dating back to Nov. 17, 2013 at Houston.

What we learned about the Broncos:

1. Quarterback Peyton Manning acknowledged the stretch of 13 consecutive games after the Broncos’ late September bye week took a toll physically on him as well as the team. He’s had more interceptions (six) than touchdown passes (three) in the last month of the season. He wouldn’t blame any injuries for his drop in production, but he welcomed the Broncos’ bye week before their first playoff game, saying it will give him a chance to heal and take stock of his play as well to see where he can improve.

2. The Broncos defense is playing at a high level heading into the playoffs. In their last three wins, the unit has held the opposition to 16 points or fewer and even in the finale against the Raiders, Oakland’s defense accounted for half of the 14-point total by returning a botched lateral for a touchdown.

–WR Demaryius Thomas had eight catches for 115 yards, his 10th 100-yard receiving game of the season. He’s one of only seven players in NFL history to have at least 10 100-yard receiving games in a season. Thomas also finished with a single-season club record 1,619 yards receiving.

–RB C.J. Anderson had 10 touchdowns (8 rushing, 2 receiving) during the season. That’s the most by an undrafted running back in Broncos team history.

–The Broncos were unbeaten in AFC West divisional play and also rounded out their play at home with an 8-0 record. It was the third time the Broncos had an unblemished division record and the sixth time they went undefeated at home.


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