From The Armchair: Denver Broncos: Week 3
This week brought us an old AFC rivalry as the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders came to town to face the Broncos on Monday Night Football which on paper looked like a definite mismatch. The Broncos started off strong in this one, stopping the Raiders early on defense, then taking their opening drive in to take an early lead and run out to a 17-0 lead. After a busted coverage play, the Raiders got on the board with a 73 yard TD for Denarius Moore from Terrelle Pryor. The Broncos were able to tack on 10 more points before the end of the half to make it 27-7. The offense struggled in the 3rd, settling for a field goal on their opening possession, then a sack fumble gave the Raiders their first turnover forced of the year. They were able to cash it in for 7 on a Darren McFadden TD pass. The Broncos were able to run the ball and milk a lot of the 2nd half clock, scoring only 10 points while giving up 14.on their way to a 37-21 win.
The offense in the first half was what we’d typically been seeing in the 2nd half of the first two games. Manning was surgical in his precision going 21/24 for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns. Eric Decker had 116 yards at half time and finished with 133 on 8 catches including a touchdown. Manning finished the night 32/37 for 374 and those 3 touchdowns, giving him 12 for the year, the most ever through the first 3 games of a season. Demaryius Thomas finished with 10 catches for 94 yards, and Wes Welker checked in with 7 for 84 and a touchdown, and Julius Thomas caught his 4th TD of the year. The way the rules are set up, and with this group of playmakers, it’s almost unfair to defenses trying to stop this Broncos offense right now.
The Broncos were also able to run the ball efficiently in this one, especially as the game got into the 4th quarter. They ended the night with 35 carries and 162 yards including a Ronnie Hillman TD. Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman who didn’t see a lot of action in the first half ran all over what had to be a tired Raiders team in the 4th quarter. Those guys were running hard and with a purpose in the 2nd half. I’ve said it before, but the pace the Broncos play at just wears a defense down, especially at altitude.
After 3 games, the Broncos lead the NFL with 127 points. The 2nd most through 3 games in the last 45 years.
Chris Clark, filling in for All Pro Ryan Clay who is out for the year with a foot injury, did a good job at left tackle with the exception of one play where he was beat by Lamarr Houston which lead to the strip-sack in the red zone.
One area of concern was a Montee Ball fumble with just over 2 minutes remaining in the game, his 2nd fumble in as many weeks.
The Broncos used their speed at linebacker, mainly with Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan to spy Terrelle Pryor and keep him from doing a lot of damage with his legs. Tony Carter went down with an injury in the first quarter and all throughout the game the secondary play was average at best. They left a lot of field open in their zone defense giving Pryor a lot of easy throws in the 15-25 yard range which he did a good job making. I was happier with the pressure the Broncos got, mainly due to an awful Oakland offensive line, but you still have to make plays and the defense managed a season high 3 sacks.
Even though they gave up a late rushing touchdown to Mcfadden, the Broncos held him and the Raiders running game in check, something they’ve been great at so far this year. Pryor had a 23 yard run in the 1st quarter, but the Broncos D held them to 26 yards on their other 16 carries. McFadden, himself, was held to 9 yards on 12 carries. It’s been a distinct improvement by the defensive tackles this year not giving up the big runs up the middle that have plagued this team for years.
The D did also come up with a good goal line stand late in the 4th quarter finished of with a Dominique Rogers-Cromartie pass break up and a 2nd down hit on Pryor forced him out of the game after that series.
Keep an eye out for the severity of the Tony Carter injury. Also, Champ Bailey was able to participate in practices this past week and appears closer to returning to the field
Trindon Holliday was neutralized in this one due to a good showing from Raiders’ punter Marquette King. Matt Prater was perfect on the night with field goals of 53, 41, and 40 yards.
Up next, the Broncos welcome the Eagles into Sports Authority Field next Sunday afternoon