The Denver Broncos finally played the complete game fans have been waiting for since Peyton Manning came aboard. From the first drive until the final gun, Denver whipped the Oakland Raiders and showed Broncos Country their true potential in a dominating 37-6 victory. It was an important statement for a fan base that had grown agitated after a 1-2 start to the year. In the matter of a single afternoon, the Broncos righted the ship and look to be in good position at the quarter pole of the season.
Here are some thoughts on the Broncos resounding victory over the Raiders:
- Is there a better feeling in the world than waking up after pounding the Raiders the day before? As far as sports go, nothing beats it. Members of Broncos Country are going through their Monday routines with an extra bounce in their step. They also probably haven’t heard a peep out of acquaintances who cheer for the Raiders, and that silence is a very sweet sound.
- Manning may have quieted his doubters once and for all. It should be clear to anyone watching that he can make all the throws out there and still makes an impact on the game like few others can. He finished 30 for 38 passing for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns. His quarterback rating? Try 130.0. There remains a lot to be decided in 2012, but the people who still wonder if Denver is truly better off with Peyton Manning need to be slapped.
- I slammed the defense over the first 3 weeks of the season for their brutal performance on third downs and they responded yesterday with their best game of the year. They held the Raiders to 6 points, 1 for 11 on third down conversions, and a measly 237 total yards. The best part of their performance was how effectively they played once the team had a big lead. The pass rushers were menacing after the Raiders were forced to pass the ball, and that is a scenario the Broncos hope repeats itself several times down the road.
- Speaking of the defense, Elvis Dumervil was all over the place on Sunday. He ended up with 4 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 3 quarterback hits. He has gotten back on track after a slow start over the first couple of games.
- Willis McGahee racked up 112-yards rushing with a 5.9-yard average and a touchdown. He continues to be the workhorse of the Denver offense and he now leads all active running backs with 32 career 100-yard rushing games.
- It was awesome to see hometown hero Joel Dreessen catch a touchdown pass at Mile High. He made a pretty 22-yard grab on the opening drive and it set the stage for a big day by the offense.
- Denver won almost every statistical category of note yesterday, but the most impressive was time of possession. They held the ball for a whopping 37:25 compared to 22:35 for Oakland. That is mainly due to the efforts of Manning and McGahee coupled with the defensive performance on third downs. If the Broncos can keep Manning on the field for almost 40 minutes a game this season is going to be a whole lot of fun.
Demaryius Thomas continued his torrid start to the season with a 102-yard receiving effort. However, on a day where almost everything went right for Denver, Thomas made the biggest mistake of the game by fumbling away the ball after a 40-yard completion in the second quarter. He may have had a shot of scoring on that play, and at the very least the Broncos would have been set up with a first-and-goal, so that mistake took points off the board. If you count the awful fake field goal later in the quarter Denver possibly left 10 points on the field. They went to halftime leading only 10-6 despite completely dominating the game. Those missed points didn’t come back to haunt them yesterday, but Denver has to eliminate those unforced errors before they do.
- The Broncos need to get someone else back there to return punts beside Jim Leonhard. No offense to Jim, but he looks excruciatingly slow during his returns. Of all the qualities a football player can have, “slow” is not the one you want to see in your punt returner. There has to be someone on the roster who can field a kick and flash a little speed and explosiveness.
- Denver now sits at 2-2 with both losses being close ones to the two best teams in the league. Not a bad spot to be in with all things considered. The most important thing to watch is the record within the division, and Denver sits at a perfect 1-0. They now look forward to a matchup against the Patriots this weekend and an opportunity to make another big statement. Go Broncos!