Peyton Manning and the Broncos shatter the hopes and dreams of Raider Nation
Just a week after upsetting the Steelers in Oakland, Raider fans went into the game against the Broncos with hopes that they might be able to pull off another upset. At halftime, both fans and players remained confident that they had a very realistic shot at winning the game - the Raiders trailed 10-6 and would receive the ball to start the second half.
They started their drive with an incompletion, then a five yard run by Darren McFadden. On 3rd and 5, Carson Palmer threw to Denarius Moore, who caught the ball and rolled down the sideline past the first down marker. However, it was marked a yard short of a first down. It was obvious on replay - to both myself and the Nantz/Simms tandem that was calling the game - that the Moore had picked up a first down, yet Raiders' head coach Dennis Allen opted not to challenge the play. After the game, he noted that he had believed the refs made the correct call. It was all downhill from there for the Raiders.
After looking so solid against the Steelers, the offensive line once again struggled mightily. They couldn't open any holes for Darren McFadden, and it seemed like Carson Palmer was getting drilled into the turf every time he dropped back to pass. The offense was completely inept, and it all stemmed from the porous offensive line.
The defense, as has become customary, couldn't cover anyone in the passing game. Most of the damage came on underneath routes that went for big yards due to poor pursuit of the ball carrier. In addition, the pass rush was once again completely nonexistent, and no one can contain Peyton Manning without making him rush his throws. The run defense was also terrible and could never get stops when they needed them most.
Possibly the biggest story of the game, as Dennis Allen noted, was third down play. The Broncos converted 10 of 16 third downs, while the Raiders converted 1 of 12. Defensively, that has been one of the Raiders biggest issues so far this season. The Raiders frequently force teams into third down situations, then can't hold up for one more play. You don't even need to see the score - if you look at the third down numbers, you know who won.
Positives for the Raiders? Well, there's really nothing positive that they did do, but there are some good things that they didn't do. They once again stayed away from shooting themselves in the foot with penalties. Raider fans have to be happy with only five penalties for 41 yards - Dennis Allen has really gotten players disciplined in that regard. The Raiders also won the turnover battle 1-0. The offense may have been terrible, but at least they weren't making the kind of mistakes that can immediately cripple a team.
It's interesting to note that the Dolphins and the Broncos - the two teams that have blown out the Raiders this season - both played the Texans the week before hosting the Raiders. The Texans run an offense nearly identical to the Raiders, and maybe it's easier to defend the offense when you're seeing it for the second week in a row. Then again, maybe the Raiders are just terrible.
With no game slated for Week 5, the Raiders will have two weeks to prepare to be slain by Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
The Broncos head to Foxborough to play the Patriots in Week 4.