Each year, the priorities for a successful season for the Denver Broncos stay the same. They are -- Win at Home, go at least .500 on the Road and Win the Division. But of Chief importance, no pun intended, is to sweep the Raiders. So far, the plan is working. Sure, this was just the first Division game on the Broncos schedule, but it would be extremely disappointing to lose to the Raiders. I would even go so far as to say it would be a consolation if the only two victories the Broncos got in a 2-14 year, were over the Raiders. That is how important a game this is.
The Broncos dominated this game, amassing over 500 yards of Offense. At one point, Peyton Manning had 11 straight completions. He finished with 338 yards passing and a 130.0 Rating.
Willis McGahee ran for 112 yards and a score, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Demaryius Thomas had a fumble while attempting to transfer the ball to his outside hand during a long run off a quick screen pass, but rebounded to have another 100+ yard day with 5 catches for 103 yards. More importantly, he only had one drop.
Eric Decker finished with 7 receptions for 79 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown catch.
Ronnie Hillman got some extensive playing time during the mop up period and finished with 10 carries for 31 yards and two catches for another 32 yards, showing a little sample of why he was drafted.
Defensively, Wesley Woodyard led the team with 6 Tackles, one Quarterback Hit and a half Sack.
Elvis Dumervil contributed 4 Tackles, 1.5 Sacks, numerous Hurries and 3 Hits on Raiders Quarterback Carson Palmer.
On Special Teams, David Bruton's deflection of a Shane Lechler punt broke the spirit of the Raiders. The punt ended up going for a whopping 2 yards as the Broncos took control of the ball on the Oakland 18. Denver scored four plays later, all carries from Willis McGahee.
Punt Returner Jim Leonhard averaged 8.4 yards on 5 returns. That is slightly above the norm, but I'd still like to see a better option at the position.
Probably the best thing to happen next to the Broncos defeating the Raiders, was the fact that Britton Colquitt did not have to punt once today. That is a recipe for success.
One thing is for sure. It;s going to be tough trying to narrow down the Game Balls.