It’s always an uphill battle when facing a divisional opponent, no matter what the records may indicate. The Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders have a rich history in the AFC West with many fierce battles and tonight was no different. Peyton Manning, despite a solid effort by the Raiders defense, was able to make the plays in guiding the Broncos down-field on long drives that unfortunately more times than not, ended in a field goal rather than a touchdown.
Manning did however, find TE Joel Dreessen for a TD in the first half for his 5,000th career completion, becoming the youngest player in the league to accomplish the feat. That leaves Manning second on the all-time list behind Brett Favre by over 1,000 completions.
The Raider defense kept Manning under pressure all game, with constant rushing and decent coverage down-field considering they are the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL. But Manning was Manning, calling audibles and finding his receiver on a quick read, while getting the much needed help from Knowshon Moreno moving the chains.
This became a typical Manning offensive explosion when put under pressure. At halftime, Head Coach John Fox was able to make the adjustments needed to keep his QB secure, and from there, Manning directed the offense by utilizing what I call the play-action run. By connecting with his WRs, TEs and RBs on the quick dish, Moreno was able to exploit the gaps and hit the holes for big yards.
With getting to 10-3, the Broncos now put more pressure on both the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots to follow suit with wins this weekend. Second seed in the AFC, and possibly even the one seed is still up for grabs, and the Broncos are taking care of their own, while probably making some teams in the conference a little worried come playoff time.
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