Peyton Manning spoils us into worrying about Broncos' win over Raiders for eighth straight
Yeah, I know: It's ridiculous. We ought to be celebrating the Broncos' 26-13 victory over the Raiders in Oakland last night. After all, it's Denver's eighth straight win, and it keeps alive the chance that the team could move up in playoffs seeding. But damn it if Peyton Manning's transformation of this squad hasn't spoiled us into wondering, even as we enjoy each successive W, why the Broncos aren't even better....
As we pointed out yesterday in the introduction to our gallery of Raiders suck memes, the once fearsome Black and Silver has been tarnished so greatly that it's hard to get worked up about what was once among the NFL's most passionate rivalries.
Granted, QB Carson Palmer had some good moments in the Black Hole last night, including a first-half touchdown drive executed with the sort of precision the Raiders have seldom demonstrated in recent years. But he still makes the sort of mistakes that have prevented him from attaining elite status (one of them wound up in Champ Bailey's arms), and his supporting cast isn't nearly good enough to make up for his shortcomings. Even Darren McFadden, who's scorched the Broncos D in the past, looked like a mere mortal -- a tribute to Von Miller and company, sure, but also an indication that the injury bug that's held him down since hitting the league may have left him permanently diminished.
Wikipedia Mitch Unrein.
Given these factors, the Broncos should have won the game in a rout, and during the first quarter, they appeared to be well on their way to doing so. The first drive almost ended in a three and out, but a blatant defensive holding penalty kept the offense on the field, allowing Manning to work his magic -- a spell that ended with a six yarder to Joel Dreessen for touchdown. But while the next drive seemed guaranteed to end in the same result, it sputtered instead, with Manning taking a huge sack -- one of a surprising three in the first half.
The result was a Matt Prater field goal try, and the ball sailed right through without the sort of slicing or fading that's made his kicking so nerve-racking of late. But while it's good to think he's gotten over his case of the yips, fans would rather see him booting extra points than three-pointers -- and over the course of the game, he only got to smash two of the former, as opposed to four of the latter. Even worse, one of his field goals came after Denver failed to convert a first and goal from the Raiders' one-yard line after Demaryius Thomas (who was dinged up during the game) drew an interference flag in the end zone.
As for the defense, Miller and Elvis Dumervil had a surprisingly difficult time reaching Palmer during the first part of the game. But by limiting McFadden, the Denver defenders were able to keep Oakland from doing much damage. Then, in the third quarter, Miller finally got to Carson, knocking the ball in the direction of Mitch Unrein, who's becoming a fan favorite -- he had a play or two on offense again this week, after catching a touchdown pass this past Sunday against Tampa Bay. And this time, the offense cashed in with a touchdown drive -- one two yards long.
Continue for more of our post about the Broncos' win over the Raiders, including two videos.