And in the blink of an eye, the 2013 NFL regular season is OVAH! The playoff picture, or at least the part we here on Broncos’ Planet care about is set. The Denver Broncos won their final contest of the regular year over its once formidable rival, the Oakland Raiders 34-14. There was a time when a blowout of that magnitude in Oakland was eye-popping. However, the Black Hole has basically been nothing more than a black pin-prick for the Broncos since 1995…but I digress. The game really took on more of a third week preseason game as it did a regular season finale. Denver put the game away by halftime and a certain #18 broke the NFL single season passing record; at which point it was time to BROCK!!! Back-up quarterback, Brock Osweiler took all of the second half snaps as the Broncos gave Peyton Manning a half day. So who were the integral players in week 17? Well let’s take a look.
The King: If John Elway is the “Duke of Denver”, then PFM currently holds the title of “King of Colorado”. Now look, even if Peyton leads our Broncos to the ultimate victory in the game that takes place on the first Sunday in February (its name I refuse to mention), there is still only one absolute, take-it-to-the-bank, incomparable, greatest Denver Broncos’ quarterback ever. He just so happens to be the current executive vice president of football operations. However as a citizen of our A.D.D. society, I am going to crown Manning king since “The Duke” played more than 5 years ago (thankya…thankya verrrrra much). So what did our favorite son of Olivia and Archibald Manning do in the East Bay today? Well he completed 25 of 28 passes for 266 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions…and that was just in one half of football. Oh yeah, then there’s that little matter of this all-time single season passing record thingie. Manning needed exactly 266 yards to eclipse the previous single season record of 5476 set by Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints in 2011. So at the end of the first half, PFM completed a five yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. That gave him the record and the Broncos a 31-0 lead. That is all that was needed to be accomplished before head coach, John Fox got him out of harms way and pulled him in favor of Osweiler. In addition to the 5477 yards on the season, Manning also extended his single-season touchdown record to 55 with his four scoring strikes on Sunday.
In addition to PFM wearing the crown of individual statistics, the team set a new record for points in a year with 606; blowing past the mark set by the New England Patriots in 2007. This marks the first time in NFL history that a team surpassed 600 points for a season.
The Good: As usual the pigskin found its way to a plethora of Broncos’ receivers. The only pass-catcher whose stats stood out were those of Demaryius Thomas. He caught 6 passes for 113 yards and two scores; including a 63 yard bomb from Manning in the second quarter.
Again, the running game was great. In addition to the usual tandem of Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman found his way out of the dog house and into the running back rotation. While Hillman’s individual numbers were barely pedestrian, he did add to a stat line that saw the three-headed running back monster tote the rock 28 times for 125 yards. Moreno also caught 5 passes for 41 yards and one score. Ball snagged three passes for 22 yards. The one positive about Hillman’s 12 carries for 30 yards is that they happened in a meaningful game and at game speed. This may come in handy, just in case his number is called in the post-season.
The defense was statistically good but were facing a very offensively-challenged opponent. That said, Raiders’ quarterback, Terrell Pryor was sacked twice: once each by Malik Jackson and Nate Irving. Rookie defensive tackle, Sylvester Williams recovered a muffed snap by Pryor for the games only turnover. The defense also held Oakland to only 12 first downs, 180 total yards, and 21:55 in time of possession. To be honest, the defense had a better game than the final score reflected as the Raiders offensive production was accrued mostly in second half garbage time.
No Contest: I usually have more statistics to sort through when putting these weekly recaps together but to be honest, there just were not enough on the Oakland side of the ball to focus a whole lot on the Broncos’ defense or special teams. This game was a blowout from the opening kickoff. It really resembled a scrimmage more than an NFL game. Trust me, this analysis is not born of a healthy dislike of the silver and black. As much as I love to dance on their proverbial grave, this is nothing more than fact. In the paraphrased words of Dennis Green, this game was what we thought it was! It was one very good team with something on the line beating a very bad team who mailed it in. As Forrest Gump would say, “that’s all I got to say about that!”
A recap article by yours truly would not be complete without finding something to complain about. And once again, it was penalties. It’s not actually the number of penalties and/or yardage (6/56), rather the fact that we had more of both than the most penalized team in the history of the NFL. The Raiders only committed two penalties for ten yards. It’s not bad, it just looks bad.
Up Next: Meh, not much! The Broncos just have a week off before a ‘lil ‘ol playoff game on January 11th/12th. Actually, I think this upcoming playoff game is something for which we fans have been chomping at the bit for almost a calendar year. I’m guessing that the players left over from last season feel the same way. Denver’s next game and opponent will be determined based on what happens over Wild Card Weekend next Saturday and Sunday. What we do know is that the Broncos will welcome the lowest seeded team remaining into (Sports Authority Field at) Mile High Stadium two weekends hence. That can only be one of three teams: San Diego, Kansas City, or Indianapolis. Until then, it is time for me to stock up on some Tums and St. Johns Wart.