Grading the Raiders
Consecutive passes in the first quarter illustrated the maddening inconsistency of quarterback Carson Palmer (19 for 30, 273 yards, two touchdowns, one interception). The first was a perfect 58-yard rainbow to Rod Streater. The follow-up was forced to tight end Brandon Myers, sandwiched in bracket coverage. Champ Bailey picked it off in the end zone. Carson giveth, Carson taketh away.
The good -- Darren McFadden broke loose on a 36-yard run on the first play of the second half, the longest run against the Broncos this season by 12 yards. The bad -- the Raiders had two rushing first downs and gained 25 yards on the other 15 runs from scrimmage in the game.
Peyton Manning was 26 of 36 for 310 yards and one touchdown and made some throws that were simply impossible to defend. Three sacks thwarted deep Denver penetration and the Broncos were forced to settle for field goals. Phillip Adams had a diving interception to stop another threat. But there were too many third-down failures.
The Broncos had enough control of the game to persist with the run and finished with 140 yards, but they had to work for it with 39 rushes. Knowshon Moreno had 119 yards on 32 carries and scored on a 1-yard run. Andre Carter and Mike Mitchell had tackles for losses on running plays.
Mike Goodson's decision to bring out a kickoff 8 yards deep in the end zone backfired as he was dropped at the 8. A sack-fumble a short time later swung the game Denver's way for good. Shane Lechler placed three of his five punts inside the 20-yard line and had a 43.4 net. Denarius Moore gained 8 yards on his only punt return.
Curious decision by Raiders to defer after winning the coin toss, giving Manning the ball to start the game. The Broncos immediately marched 68 yards for a touchdown, their only extended touchdown drive. Raiders ended up opening second half with possession down 13-7 -- validating Dennis Allen's decision -- but couldn't capitalize. Not a lot of issues with strategy, play-calling or emotion. Problems mostly rested with an inferior team.