The Denver offense had struggled at the beginning of games the past two weeks and for the most part those struggles continued into week four. The only difference was that the defense held the opposition in check and the offense absolutely exploded in the second half.
Things started well for the Denver offense on their opening drive. They moved the ball 80 yards, mostly through the air and eventually scored on a touchdown pass to Joel Dreessen. The remainder of the first half was pretty much uneventful with the two teams trading field goals, before finally going into the half with the Broncos leading 10-6.
Then in the second half Peyton Manning lit the Oakland defense up, which just about every quarterback has and will do this season. Manning threw for two touchdowns in the second half and finished with an outstanding game statistically. Peyton was 30 of 38 for 338 yards and three touchdowns. This was the sharpest that Manning had looked since his return this season and some of that was aided by the Broncos commitment to the run game.
The rush to pass ratio of the Broncos offense was almost completely balanced. This is the kind of game plan that Denver should be implementing on a week to week basis. Willis McGahee can wear down the defense, especially when he is continually fed the ball. Yesterday he finished with 112 yards on 19 carries including a touchdown. If a defense is off balance, Peyton Manning will work his play action and pick the defense apart.
Denver’s defense also gave its best effort yesterday, limiting the Raiders to hardly anything on offense. The Broncos took Darren McFadden completely out of the game and forced Carson Palmer to make plays, which he can no longer do.
This win evens the Broncos record at 2-2, putting them a game behind San Diego in the AFC West standings. The two games between those two division foes will be very important in determining the division winner.
The only bad news to come out of this game was that starting center J.D. Walton broke his ankle, ending his season. Ironically ex-Patriot, Dan Koppen, will be filling in at center next week in New England.
Denver will need the same kind of effort that they put forth yesterday to defeat the Patriots in New England next week. Foxboro has become a house of horrors for Peyton Manning, perhaps the Broncos will be able to change Manning’s fortune in New England.