Peyton Manning is a four-time NFL MVP and future Hall of Famer for a reason. He illustrated his greatness against the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football in a 37-21 win. The Raiders drop to 1-2 on the season, but held the Broncos to the fewest points this season and gave them their closest game of the year.
Manning was phenomenal completing 32-37 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. He spread the ball around and found Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas for the scores. His pre-snap adjustments were spot on holding the Raiders defense at bay and calling the right plays to take advantage. He led the Broncos offense on seven scoring drives, three of which covered 80 yards. The Oakland defense rarely got near Manning except for a Lamaar Houston sack and forced fumble. The defense was on the field for extended time and they wore that fatigue.
Offensively, the Raiders moved the ball well in the second half, but a slow start left them buried. Their first four series all resulted in punts and only two first downs. Running back Darren McFadden had no room to operate, rushing 12 times for just nine yards and a late touchdown. He did throw a touchdown to Marcel Reece from 16 yards out.
Starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor played a very solid game, using his arm to do most of his damage. He completed 19-28 for 281 yards and a 73 yards touchdown to Denarius Moore. He did not turn the ball over for the second straight game. However, he left the game with a head injury and is being evaluated for a concussion. Moore finished the game with 6 receptions for 124 yards and the score.
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver wanted to disguise looks for Manning to keep him out of rhythm, but it was unsuccessful. Manning made the Raiders pay whether they were blitzing or dropping into coverage. After two solid games for the Oakland defense, they struggled tonight. They had been flowing to the ball well and making tackles with several defenders, but against the Broncos, they whiffed too many times. They were able to force their first two takeaways this season on fumbles.
Oakland will regroup before hosting the 0-3 Washington Redskins Sunday. It will be a real test to see if they can come back and get the job done against a team that is struggling on both sides of the ball.
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