The Denver Broncos Thursday night affair in Oakland wasn’t exactly a Black tie soiree, but the results were all the same appealing. Denver came away with another road victory and it’s 8th win in a row, sweeping division nemesis number two for the year 26-13. The Game Balls were handed out here, but there were other players who had a hand in doubling up the Raiders. That’s where the Horseshoes come in.
This week, the Golden Horseshoe goes to Tight End Joel Dreessen. The broncos "Blocking" Tight End caught all 5 passes thrown at him for 30 yards and the game’s first Touchdown. Joel has 34 receptions for 283 yards and 5 Touchdowns for the season.
The Silver Horseshoe goes to Quarterback Peyton Manning. John Elway’s pet pickup of the offseason continues to lead the men of the Orange and Blue back towards the surface of the league’s better teams. Manning was 26/36, (72.2%) for 310 yards, 1 Touchdown and 1 Interception for a 95.8 Passer Rating. It was his 30th TD of the year and a franchise record. Manning’s seventh 300+ yard passing game gives him 70 such games for his career, adding to another record.
Peyton also became just the 2nd player in NFL history (Brett Favre) to reach 5,000 completions for his career. Manning reached this mark in his 221st career game (18 fewer than Favre)
Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas gets the third star of the game. To be fair, Eric Decker had a steadier evening, with 8 catches for 88 yards and no drops for the second consecutive week, but "Optimus Prime" was in beast mode on several occasions, making outstanding catches and proving his worth as a 1st round draft pick. He made 5 catches for 83 yards and drew two Pass Interference penalties. All five receptions resulted in 1st Downs. Thomas also forced a Missed Tackle for the 3rd consecutive game, giving him 11 on the season and tying him with Golden Tate for 6th in the league.
All-Pro Cornerback Champ Bailey gets the Gold in Week 14. Bailey had 2 Tackles and Missed one, allowed two 15-yard completions, one each to Rod Streater and Denarius Moore and broke up a pass, but a big Interception helped the Broncos Defense control the game on Thursday. Champ’s 1st Quarter pick gave him 34 as a Bronco, tying him with Tyrone Braxton for 4th in Franchise history. Bailey now has 52 career Interceptions, ranking 1st among all active NFL Cornerbacks and the 3rd most among all players since entering the league in 1999.
Cornerback Tony Carter takes the Silver this week. Carter had 6 Total Tackles, 1 Pass Breakup and recovered Trindon Holliday’s muffed Punt. In Trindon’s defense, he was clearly interfered with, but no flag appeared. Tony has 25 tackles, 11 Pass Breakups, 2 Interceptions, including one for a Touchdown this year and has played a big part in the success of the Broncos Defense in 2012.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include Defensive Tackle Mitch Unrein here. The 2nd year Colorado native had 3 Tackles on Thursday Night, but smothered a Fumble created by Von Miller’s Strip Sack in the 3rd Quarter that led to a Touchdown 2 plays later. Mitch has made the best of his playing time all season, but has really made some impactful plays lately. 4 plays in 19 snaps this week is a nice assist for a rotational player on the Defensive Line. His 15 Tackles rank 5th among Bronco Linemen.
Punter Britton Colquitt had a good game even though he had more playing time as the Holder than in his primary job. Colquitt punted twice, landed both Inside the 20 yard line and averaged 44.5 yards. Only one was returned for 8 yards. Britton has been steady all season keeping the Broncos Field position in good shape.
The other Bronco who made a statement on Special Teams Thursday night was rookie Linebacker Steven Johnson. He had two bone jarring Stops in the game. The first came in the 1st Quarter on a Kickoff. Steven stopped Mike Goodson cold at the 19 yard line. Then, in the only punt return the Raiders had, he laid a smackdown on Denarius Moore which kept the Raiders pinned Inside their own 20 yard line. 4 of Johnson’s 5 Tackles this year have come on Special Teams.
The Broncos won the Turnover battle 2-1, the Time Of Possession battle 37:19 - 22:41 and the 3rd Down Conversion Rate 7-14(50%) - 2-8 (25%). Denver had more Rushing 1st Downs 9-2 and out rushed the Raiders 140 yards while giving up 61. The Offense had to do the grunt work as the Defense was only on the field for 53 plays. The team wasn’t running on all cylinders, but considering the opponent, a short week coming off a tough win and the terrible field conditions, just getting off relatively healthy is a win in itself. One more team goal for 2012 has been met.
- Get better on Defense - 2011: 20th , 2012: 3rd - Check
- Win at Home - (5-1) - Check
- Sweep the Raiders - Check
- Win the AFC West Division - Check
- Go above .500 on the Road - (5-2) - Check
- Win a Super Bowl - Pending