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Broncos 34, Raiders 14: Game Balls

When the Denver Broncos win, the MHR Staff gives out game balls! The Broncos took it to the Raiders, up 34-0 late in the fourth quarter before allowing Oakland a pair of garbage time touchdowns. Here are our heroes of the game.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

QB Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning, you are ridiculous. In one half of football, you played a better complete NFL game than any other Denver quarterback has played in over a decade (by passer rating, minimum 20 pass attempts). Aside from his NFL passing records of 55 TDs and 5,477 yards, Manning was actually remarkably efficient and accurate. He set a career high with his 89.5% completion percentage. At 37 years old. Manning was monumental Sunday. - Monty

WR Demaryius Thomas

With his two touchdown performance Sunday, Thomas has now put together 90 catch, 1,400 yard, 10+ TD seasons in back to back years. In fact only he and Calvin Johnson have put up back to back 1400 yard seasons. Against double coverage, Thomas split his men and gave Manning a wide-open target for a beautifully placed 63-yard bomb. He finished the day and historic season with a 5-yd TD reception to end the 1st half. - Bronco Mike

DT Sylvester Williams

The rookie took the game from winning to out of control and with only a few ticks off of the first quarter clock. Williams as you may know has seen several games this season as a street clothes wearing game day inactive. What he proves in Week 17 is that he is the defensive tackle that the Denver Broncos have so desperately needed for years. - Ian Henson

The Defense

I wanted to give out a lot of game balls to different defensive units, then I thought, heck, the entire squad deserves a game ball. The Oakland Raiders were blank on the scoreboard, down 34-0, because this Broncos defense was taking no prisoners. On the defensive line, Robert Ayers and Malik Jackson were repeatedly in Terrell Pryor's face. At linebacker, Nate Irving tallied his first career sack. At defensive back, both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris Jr. played excellent games in pas coverage. This was a solid team effort, a vision of what the Broncos defense might have been had they remained healthy. Sure, it was against the lowly Raiders, but there's something that can be built off of this defensive performance heading into the playoffs: confidence. - Monty

QB Brock Osweiler

Seems silly to give a game ball to a backup quarterback that only managed to put three points on the board in the second half, but Osweiler looked good and converted several third time attempts for Denver. He finished the game 9-of-13 for 85 yards and though he had no scores, he also protected the football. Playing with many of Denver's backup offensive weapons-including Ronnie Hillman, who averaged just 2.5 yards per carry-Osweiler managed Denver's offense and made few (if any) mistakes. It's early, but I like the kid. Keeping learning from Peyton, Brock, this may be your team one day. - Jon Heath

RB Montee Ball

7.2 yards per rush and 3 catches for 22 yards. That is what I call "Playoff Ready!!!" When Montee is running well, our offense is totally balanced and completely impossible to stop. Montee started the season slowly but ramped up his gameplay as the season went on. Montee Ball is the best runner on our team and he is finally remembering how to catch the ball. As the game slows down for him, you can visually see him getting better and better. He is no longer a rookie. He is now a vital cog in our Super Bowl machine. Mark my words, a playoff game will be won on the back of Montee Ball, and do you know what? I'm perfectly comfortable with it. He was the one person I wanted the Broncos to draft for this very reason. It's now time to get it done, and with Montee and Knowshon playing the supporting actor roll to Peyton Manning, I have the utmost confidence in our playoff chances. - Big Pete

Honorable Mentions

I have two Honorable Mentions this week. The first is WR Andre Caldwell. Pardon the expression, but someone has a lit a fire under Bubba's ass. Maybe it was Peyton Manning, back in the offseason, when he did not invite Caldwell to Duke like he did his star receivers Demaryius Thomas, Erid Decker, and Wes Welker. Whatever the case, Caldwell played well in Welker's absence and made some terrific catches and blocks Sunday.... The other honorable mention game ball is shared for the offensive line. Orlando Franklin had a rough day, and Chris Clark did allow an early Peyton Manning sack, but they played pretty well over all, including in the second half with Brock Osweiler taking his first "meaningful" snaps. - Monty

Your Game Ball

Who gets your game ball for the Broncos' 34-14 whooping of the Raiders? Who did we miss?