Monday, September 23, 2013

Nate's ruminations on: Broncos 37 - Raiders 21

For those not familiar with my writing from Denver Stiffs, I love to steal the running diary format from ESPN's Bill Simmons to write myself through games. Let's give it a go for this Raiders vs. Broncos game.

Broncos win this one 37-21 ... now on to my in-game thoughts.

Opening Broncos drive:

-Watching Chris Clark vs. Lamarr Houston (Oakland's only starting holdover on defense) on the opening few plays - Clark looking pretty good. Athletic tackle going against a very athletic defensive end - need to keep an eye on that match up.

-Opening drive touchdown, after overcoming a holding penalty, pass to Eric Decker. Peyton Manning connected with Decker three times for 31 yards on that opening drive. On a 2nd and 20, Decker got back 12 yards after breaking a tackle. Really great to see Eric get involved in the offense early. That should open things up for Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker ... or just keep feeding Deck.

7-0 Broncos.

-I am very familiar with Terrelle Pryor from his Ohio State days because of my old boss Phil - an Ohio State grad back in like 1824 or something. Phil loved him some Terrelle Pryor, so to get out of some work - I knew I could kill some time talking Ohio State football with him - I became a consistent Pryor watcher. He got away with using his feet a lot in college to extend plays and he tried to do that in his second series tonight. A questionable offensive pass interference call negates a Raiders first down and it's again Broncos football. Sweet.

-Adam Gase looks like he obsesses about football. That's a good thing.

-Raiders stop Denver and will get the ball back with 6:43 left in the first quarter at their own 9-yard line. Third Oakland series and the third three-and-out. This Oakland punter is dancing to the beat of his own drummer - guy dances while waiting for the long-snap ... ok. And Tony Carter looks shaken up in the pile where Trindon Holliday got tackled, dang it.

-Oakland's D-Coordinator, Jason Tarver, is rocking a silver chain outside his Raiders shirt - very 1987 of him.

-Broncos drive stalls out after a Clark holding penalty (which didn't look like a hold to me after checking the play via DVR) and a field goal attempt will have to suffice. Demaryius with a foot injury of some sort after being tackled on 3rd down of that drive and is being tended to on the bench, he'd better be ok!

-Matt Prater bangs home a 53-yard field go: Broncos up 10-0.

Start of the 2nd Quarter ... 

-Raiders moving the ball a bit, have it Denver territory as Pryor getting a little comfortable running and throwing. Drive stalls out as the run-D stays strong. Terrance Knighton stripped Darren McFadden, but the refs rule his forward progressed had been stopped - Wesley Woodyard picked it up, but I guess it can't be challenged. I would challenge the unchallenge-able! Big 3rd and 12 here for Oakland and ... Pryor dumps it off to Rashad Jennings and he gets demolished by third round pick Kayvon Webster (#36), wow.

-Broncos ball and Demaryius is back in the game with his left foot wrapped - looked good on a little catch-and-run. Peyton is back in business as Damaryius got a first down, Ronnie Hillman follows suit on a screen, and Welker goes for nine. Boom, bang, bam. And Peyton and the Broncos are 2-for-2 on trips to the redzone as Welker is wide open for a 12-yard touchdown.

Broncos up 17-0.

-Raiders finally stretch the field and test Broncos pass-D, Denarius Moore with an approximate 25-yard catch that turns into a 73 yard touchdown as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie gets tackled by Duke Ihenacho and Moore runs all alone. That took a bit of the bite out of the crowd ...

17-7 Broncos.

-Broncos fire right back as Decker turns an approximate 15 yard catch into a 61-yard gain on a missed pass swat from the corner, Mike Jenkins, and Decker with some creative running after the whiff from Jenkins on the ball. Broncos get to 3rd and 4 and Orange Julius Thomas catches a little out pass and turns it into a 13 yard touchdown.

24-7 Broncos. 

-The Broncos get a 41-yard field goal from Prater. Broncos up 27-7. 

-Sebastian Janikowski is about to trot out for a 67 yard ... nope. The Raiders choose to let Pryor get sacked to end the half instead by Woodyard and Malik Jackson on an attempted but failed hail-mary attempt.

Start of the 3rd Quarter ... 

-Clark is doing a good job in pass protection in his first replacement game for Ryan Clady. Been checking in on him and he's controlling Lemarr Houston very well. Denver hasn't had to put a tight end over to help him out in any special way, good to see.

-Manning throwing a ton of passes over the middle of the field and letting his receivers make plays. Peyton just scrambled to set up a play and had Knowshon Moreno moving all around - found Demaryius on another slant route - just carving up the Raiders. Broncos sitting on the 21 yard line and threatening again with 9:00 left in the quarter - took a shot to Welker and he's unable to pull in a tough one at the goalline. Took a shot to DT on the other side and he takes a bit of a helmet-to-helmet shot and can't make the catch. Another field goal for Prater from 40 yards.

Broncos up 30-7. 

-Decker goes for extra yards and bulls over Charles Woodson. Goes out to get arm or shoulder looked at, next play Julius Thomas heads to sidelines, and later in drive Clark gets burned by Houston and he blasts Peyton and forces a fumble, recovered by the Raiders. Ruins a potential TD and #18 takes a big hit. Takes a lickin' and keep on tickin' ... Timex or Peyton?

-Pryor marches the Raiders right down the field on big chunk yards: 20 and 29. McFadden tosses the halfback pass to Marcel Reece for the touchdown. If Rahim Moore turns around and looks for the ball he swats it down or maybe picks it off. Pretty pass.

30-14 Broncos. 

Start of the 4th Quarter ... 

-Big 3rd and 1 and Montee Ball picks it up all on his own, drags a tackler for the first. I really like Ball and once he gets the game speed down and some experience he'll take off. You can see his talent and his burst of speed - give him a little time.

-Peyton goes up top to Welker for a big gain and now Hillman is going to work - took a delayed handoff from the Raiders 20 yardline all the way to the goalline - thought he got in, but they mark him just short. Hillman's speed and vision have been really good tonight. His change of pace has been good. Hillman takes it in to complete the drive.

37-14 Broncos. 

-Raiders moving the ball again due to Denver's relaxed coverage and poor tackling. Oakland goes for it on 4th and goal from the one - Moore can't come up with the catch as DRC breaks up the slant route. Nice. At just 27 years-old, DRC is a fantastic pickup for Denver. The Eagles were a mess in Andy Reid's last couple seasons and the defense was shuffling guys in-and-out every year. A consistent system in Denver and two defensive minded guys in John Fox and Jack Del-Rio will pay dividends for Dominique. Really underrated pickup.

-Ball gets Denver out of trouble on their own goalline with some patient cutback runs. Nice trust from Gase to play the youngster in that situation. Playing "chewy" with the clock now ... 3:16 left in the game and Ball still rumbling as DT made a nice first down catch the play before. Run game is working tonight.

-Annnnnnnd Ball fumbles it on the way down, close call, but looked like his knees were not quite down. Hate to see that.

-Matt Flynn in for the Raiders as Pryor headed to the locker room with perhaps a head injury after getting hit by Woodyard on previous drive. Flynn was not a passer at LSU and I haven't been surprised that he hasn't won a starting job in the NFL. As I type that he fires a bullet to Reece and the ball is at Denver's 1 yard line again.

-So, Machete Kills is a real movie? At least they employed some folks during the making of that stink-fest.

-Goalline stands are awesome when they happen. Nate Irving and Mitch Unrein clobber McFadden on first down. Run DMC scores on a fake halfback pass on second down.

Final score: 37-21 Broncos.

Final thoughts: Peyton goes for 374 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also becomes the first QB to toss 12 TDs in the first three games of an NFL season. Practically a flawless game from PFM: 32-37 throwing the ball and one fumble as Clark missed a key block. Denver rushed for 162 total yards, led by Hillman's 66 yards on 7.3 yards per carry. Decker leads the receivers with 8 catches on as many targets for 133 yards (61 yards his longest). The defense looked good, but had a few mistakes on pass plays and the pressure on Pryor wasn't consistent.

The Broncos dominated this game, but they didn't put a stamp on it like they should have. Raiders are still a mess, but Pryor looks pretty good and if they can get that offensive line fixed ... always a work in progress.

Full box score here.

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