Willis McGahee of the Denver Broncos runs the ball in for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders on November 6, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
I think we can all agree that when the Denver Broncos beat the Oakland Raiders, it's a terrific feeling. In my mind, that is priority number one each year. After that, it's always been to win the games at home and then the division. The first two generally lead to the third and then everything else lines up toward the ultimate annual goal for every NFL Team. One week at a time though. To celebrate this win, I have three Game Balls to hand out, one for each unit. The Horseshoes will come tomorrow and will be more plentiful. Make the jump and find out who receives this weeks award.
The Broncos trailed the Raiders 24-14 with 6:38 remaining in the 3rd quarter and Denver quarterback Tim Tebow had thrown his last pass of the day. The Broncos converted a Matt Prater 43 yard field goal and then got the ball back with 14 seconds left in the quarter. On the very next play, Willis McGahee took an inside handoff from Tebow and ran up the middle for a 60-yard touchdown scamper.The Broncos O-Line created such a gaping hole that no Raider Linemen came close to touching Willis and not even Free Safety Matt Giordano could catch him.
McGahee struck again right after the Two-Minute Warning in the 4th quarter when he took another handoff to run behind Left Tackle Ryan Clady, bounced it to the outside and ran 24-yards untouched into the End Zone to finish the scoring. He capped off the touchdown run by taking a knee and giving the Black Hole denizens a "Mile High Salute."
McGahee finished with 163 yards rushing on 20 carries, an 8.2 yard average and 2 touchdowns. That was the 2nd-highest rushing yard total of his 9-year career. Willis leads the Broncos ground game with 623 yards (5.1 avg), 3 touchdowns and 11 catches for another 49 yards and a touchdown. Not bad for a 30-year old Running Back.
The Game Ball on Special Teams goes to Eddie Royal.
He caught a 26-yard touchdown pass on the first Bronco possession after the half for Denver's second score. That made it 17-14 in Oakland's favor. But Eddie's Game Ball moment came at the 6:12 mark in the 4th quarter. Oakland punter Shane Lechler boomed a 56-yard punt to the Denver 15. Royal fielded the punt, made a move to the left, getting a good block from Jonathan Wilhite on Gunner Louis Murphy to spring him and wove his way past two missed tackles for an 85-yard touchdown to put the Broncos ahead 31-24.
Eddie had 2 receptions for 25 yards, a touchdown catch and an 85-yard touchdown return. Royal has 14 catches for 131 yards and one touchdown on the year. The Broncos gained a 1st Down on 8 of those catches.
The Game Ball on Defense does to Champ Bailey.
The 13th year perennial All-Pro and future Hall of Famer had 2 Tackles and notched his 49th and 50th career Interceptions on Sunday, as well as Forcing a Fumble.
The fumble came at the 11:13 mark in the 1st quarter. Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer completed a short pass on the right side to Jacoby Ford, who took off 34 yards downfield until Champ Forced a Fumble as he tackled the Receiver. The Broncos nearly had their first Turnover in two weeks. Unfortunately, Fullback Marcel Reece kept up with the play and recovered the ball.
That was remedied at 4:46 in the 2nd quarter. With the Raiders leading 10-7, Carson Palmer made a deep pass to the right intended for Wide Receiver Denarius Moore. Bailey made a nice Interception at the Denver 15-yard line to end Oakland's scoring bid.
Interception number 50 came with 1:04 remaining in the game. This time, Carson Palmer sought Jacoby Ford deep on the right side. Bailey jumped the route and made the Interception to thwart a Raider comeback and ice the victory.
So far this season, Champ has 18 Tackles, 4 Pass Break Ups, 1 Forced Fumble and 2 Interceptions in five games.
That's it for this week's Game Balls.
Follow Me on Twitter!
Like Me on FaceBook!