The Denver Broncos are churning out the victories like clockwork these days, while the Raiders are wondering when they’re going to win just one more game. Such is the nature of how these two teams are headed in opposite directions.
Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said the Raiders aren’t real close to winning games right now, which counts as quite an understatement.
“I wouldn’t say that we’re on the cusp of it,” Palmer said. “I wouldn’t say it’s really close. Obviously, with some of the scores of these games and each week is something different. It’s been a handful of different things that have stopped us from being successful on offense, and I know you’ve just got to keep grinding, keep working.”
Head coach Dennis Allen said he liked what he saw from his team tonight.
“Our team fought tonight,” Allen said. “We came up on the short end of the stick. The Denver Broncos were the better team tonight, but our guys fought and that’s what I want to see the remaining three games of the year. I want to see our guys fight and compete because that’s what it takes to win in this league.”
— Tight end Brandon Myers caught one pass for 7 yards on Thursday night. That’s quite a turnaround from the 14 for 130 he recorded against the Cleveland Browns four days earlier.
The Broncos did a nice job of keeping tabs on Myers the entire game. Palmer targeted Myers only twice all night. On the one Myers didn’t catch, cornerback Champ Bailey intercepted the pass and returned it 18 yards.
— Rookie Rod Streater turned in another solid game. He caught four passes for 100 yards, including a nice grab of a pass in double coverage that turned into a 58-yard gain.
Streater amassed 96 yards receiving against the Browns and quietly is turning into Oakland’s most-reliable receiver.
Fellow rookie Juron Criner caught two passes for 24 yards. The only other pass thrown his way was right on the money, but Criner failed to haul it in.
For the record, it would have counted as a nice catch by Criner. I’m sure he’ll be the first to admit that he should have caught the ball. However, it’s likely that it won’t be considered a drop.
Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore combined for nine catches for 125 yards. Heyward-Bey turned one of his receptions into a 56-yard touchdown by making a nice move near the sideline and finding a clear lane to the end zone.
— Running back Darren McFadden finally made his much-awaited return after missing four straight games with a high-ankle sprain.
As it turned out, McFadden looked no better than he did the first eight games when he averaged 3.3 yards per carry.
McFadden broke free for a 36-yard run at one point, but he averaged only 1.6 yards on his 10 other rushes.
Meanwhile, the Broncos backs racked up 143 yards on 36 carries, with Knowshon Moreno totaling 119.
“We wanted to give him an opportunity to get the ball and we did that … ,” Allen said. “The touchdown down there in the red zone on the screen play (to McFadden) was an outstanding
— The Broncos controlled the ball for a whopping 37 minutes, 19 seconds Thursday night. That’s one of the many benefits of having Manning at the control and the ability to complete a high percentage of passes.
Manning completed 26 of 36 passes for 310 yards and one touchdown. The Raiders sacked Manning three times, but almost every time the Broncos needed to convert a third-down play, Manning found an open receiver and kept alive drives.
Palmer actually finished with a higher passer rating than Palmer, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much. He completed 19 of 30 for 273 yards and two touchdowns.
Palmer’s decent showing was undone by the interception and a fumble at his own 2-yard line, which set up a Broncos touchdown that turned the game into a one-sided affair.
“Being backed up like that, I’ve got to throw the ball out of bounds,” Palmer said.
— Cornerback Phillip Adams did quite a fine job in extensive action tonight, with starter Michael Huff leaving the game with a wrist injury.
On one play, Adams recovered on a play that looked to be a sure touchdown and made a diving interception at the goal line.
“I was just doing what I was told to do,” Adams said. “It wasn’t anything too crazy.”
Adams played much better than Ron Bartell, the other starting cornerback. Time and again, Manning went after Bartell, and he enjoyed great success.
It’s unclear the extent of Huff’s injury. However, Adams made a convincing case for more playing time the final three games.
“I just keep working,” Adams said. “I just keep working every day and I try to put myself in the best positions possible for my teammates. They hold me accountable, and I hold them accountable. I always want to be where I need to be for them.”
— Second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor was among the 46 players active for the Raiders for the second straight game. And, for the second straight game, Pryor did not play a single down.
At some point, the Raiders need to take a look at Pryor, especially if a game reaches the point where the outcome has been decided. That time should have been when the Broncos extended their lead to 26-7 late in the third quarter.
As it were, Palmer played the entire game for the 13th straight time.
“We’ve had a package in for Terrelle in both games,” Allen said. “But, again, like I said, we had 47 plays in the game tonight, so the situation didn’t play out. Terrelle will continue to be on our active game-day roster, and we’ll continue to carry a package of plays for him.”
— Allen spoke with the media for the first time since he returned from Texas, where he was with his family as his father passed away.
Allen departed for Texas after the Browns game Sunday night and returned Wednesday morning. His father, Grady, died Tuesday morning at the age of 66.
“I went home on Sunday and took my father off life support, and that’s not easy to do,” Allen said. “So, was it hard? Yeah, it was hard. But I know my father would want me to be here with this football team. And I wanted to be here with this football team. I’m sure you guys can imagine that it wasn’t an easy situation.”
Allen received widespread support from the Raiders, other teams and fans during his trying time.
“A ton,” Allen said. “A ton. I received a lot of support from a lot of different people. This organization has been outstanding to me, as far as that’s concerned. The players, the coaches, as well as countless friends, family, even people around the league, have been very supportive of this situation.”