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Broncos-Raiders game balls: Justin Simmons, A.J. Derby and the defensive line all had a great game

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Here are the players we felt stood out the most during the Denver Broncos 16-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos (3-1) beat the Oakland Raiders (2-0) in an old fashioned defensive slugfest. The Broncos ended up 0/4 in the red zone, helping keep the Raiders in the game to the very end.

With the offense unable to generate anything, it was the defense that was called upon to save the day. And save the day they did. Here are out game balls and they mostly go out to the defense.

Justin Simmons

Simmons gave us all a glimpse into the future with his game-saving interception and demonstrates why John Elway made the move to him over T.J. Ward. Simmons also showed us he could be the next great safety for this organization that has seen some great safeties through the years. Billy Thompson, Goose Gonsoulin, Steve Foley, Dennis Smith, Steve Atwater, John Lynch and Brian Dawkins, come to mind.

As good as the play was, what highlights Simmons’ potential is the instinct he had to make that play. He realized the Raiders called the same play a few times before and when they lined up he knew they did so again. That’s a savvy veteran move. But Simmons isn’t only strong in the passing game, he’s strong in the running game too. Welcome to the No Fly Zone, Simmons. - Ian St. Clair

Pro Football Focus

A.J. Derby

Four receptions. 75 yards. And one ridiculous one-handed catch for a TD. No, we're not talking about Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you A.J. Derby. On a rocky night for the Broncos' offense, Derby was the guy making plays. That one-handed sideline catch was a signature play in any guy's career, especially with the excellent body control and awareness of the sideline that he used to turn it into a big time touchdown catch. And for the first regular season touchdown of his career? Man. Have yourself a day, Derby.

Also: Jake Butt is still an unknown on the NFL field. But even assuming he turns out to be a longtime true #1 TE for the Broncos, a second quality TE would be a huge help. Why not Derby? - Taylor Kothe

Bradley Roby

Little credit is being given to Bradley Roby, but he absolutely shut down Amari Cooper all game long - allowing just two catches for 16 yards. Because of Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, Roby is often schemed into being the Broncos #1 cornerback against the opponents #1 wide receiver.

PFF gave Roby the third highest grade in the game, which is much deserved.

While Roby is the least consistent of Denver’s big three corners, he is capable of the same elite play of the other two, and this was one of his better performances. He allowed just two receptions for 16 yards in the game, and broke on a pass to Amari Cooper to notch a pass breakup.

Sometimes he falters and sometimes he doesn’t. In this game he didn’t. The Broncos have the best trio of cornerbacks in the game and maybe even historically. - Tim Lynch

E.J. Manuel

E.J. Manuel gets my game ball. Thanks to his poor level of preparation for being in the game he crapped away 2 time outs that left Oakland with no opportunity to get the ball back late. Not only that, but he also tossed up a jump ball against a young kid with some big ups. Thanks E.J. I hope we see you a lot more on the field of play the rest of this season. - Sadaraine

Defensive Line

Facing four (at least at one time) elite running backs to start the season the Broncos run defense has allowed 2.42 yards per carry. That's the best value in team history through 4 games. The big reason for this improvement is improved play from the defensive line relative to 2016. Domata Peko is a huge upgrade over Sylvester Williams against the run. Similarly Adam Gotsis is a huge upgrade over Jared Crick against the run. Over the last four games they've held Melvin Gordon, Ezekial Elliot, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch to 95 yards on 50 carries.

Focusing on yesterday, they held Marshawn Lynch to 12 yards on 9 carries and they held the Raiders to 24 yards on 15 carries. For that, the DL gets my gameball. Keep in mind that the best rushing defense this century, the 2000 Ravens, allowed 2.69 yards per carry. If we can sustain this (and we've faced some good running teams already), we will finish the season as the best rushing defense in the history of the NFL . Only two teams in the history of the league (since the merger) have allowed fewer than 1000 rushing yards in a season - 2006 Vikings (985) and the 2000 Ravens (970). The Broncos are on pace to allow 812 rushing yards. - Joe Mahoney

C.J. Anderson

C.J. Anderson once again had a solid game for the Broncos. He is a huge part of controlling the clock, and keeping the defense fresh. His 20 rushing attempts for 95 yards is a good day at the office. With 4 catches for 17 yards on top of that, he keeps the chains moving.

As I stated in the MHR Radio podcast, his numbers should be even higher. Hopefully, games like this will go a long way to convincing Mike McCoy that he needs more touches. The running game is key to grinding out wins. He was big against the Raiders, and should continue as the season progresses. - Adam Malnati

Who gets your game ball?