The Denver Broncos improved to 5-0 behind another dominating defensive performance. The Raiders broke double-digit points only in the game's final two minutes, and Chris Harris Jr.'s pick-six in the fourth quarter sealed a Denver win. Peyton Manning looked pretty bad, throwing no touchdowns and two interceptions (although his receivers didn't help him in the end zone very much), but the defense and special teams was more than enough to take out the Raiders on the road.
The first half was a cacophony of errors, the worst of which occurred at the end of Denver's final second-quarter drive. First, Ronnie Hillman dropped a totally catchable, hit-him-between-the-numbers-literally football in the end zone to set up 3rd down. Then, on the next play, Charles Woodson got the interception of Peyton Manning he had been hoping for his whole career.
Charles Woodson picks off Peyton Manning pic.twitter.com/qIbHxz4Po8— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) October 11, 2015
Before that, the defense had surrendered a 143.2 passer rating to Derek Carr, who complete nine of 11 passes before his second quarter touchdown put the Raiders up 7-3. The Raiders dominated time of possession, a stat likely aided by Denver's inability (or unwillingness) to run the football.
Broncos with 21 passes and 5 runs in the first half.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 11, 2015
As far as positives go, the Broncos did continue their 2015 streak of not allowing a point in the first quarter to their opponent. That feat came to be thanks to a big blocked field goal by big Sylvester Williams in the first quarter. Malik Jackson got to Derek Carr for a sack in the first half, but outside of that, not a lot of great things to talk about from Denver's first half. The Raiders took a 7-3 lead to the locker room.
More drops for the Broncos, as Denver's $70-million man Demaryius Thomas let an end zone pass bounce off his hands.
Ronnie Hillman drops a TD pass that hits him in the numbers. Demaryius Thomas drops a TD pass that bounces off his hands. OAK 7, DEN 6— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) October 11, 2015
If those two balls had been caught, it would have been Broncos 17, Raiders 7 in the third quarter.
Thomas would make up for that drop in some ways with a number of tough grabs down the stretch but the Broncos remained anemic. That ineffectiveness was compounded by some crazy penalties (offensive personal foul? Ghost holding?) and a second Charles Woodson interception of Peyton Manning.
Dat defense doe.
For the fifth straight game, Denver's defense stepped up in the fourth quarter - this time it was Chris Harris Jr. flying into the end zone. I guess #NoFlyZone doesn't apply when the football is in a Broncos' cornerback's hands.
Denver's defense sealed the win again for good measure - a David Bruton forced fumble should have delivered the win early, but who knows what a catch is anymore? Still, Denver's defense forced the turnover on downs, and it was relatively smooth sailing from there.
This game won't instill confidence in the offense for anyone, but the defense - even without DeMarcus Ware for much of the game, who left in the first half with a back injury - is as good as advertised. 5-0!