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Broncos 3rd and long: an ugly win is still a win

The Denver Broncos were perfect on third and long against the Oakland Raiders.

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

So Joe Woods had our defensive backs play way off of the Raider receivers on Sunday. Derek Carr took advantage of that and carved up the Frequent Flyer Zone to the tune of an NFL record 29 completions on 32 attempts (90.6%). The Raiders stuck to their game plan and, at least in the first half, they were able to dictate to our defense. They wanted to run the ball on first down to stay “on schedule”.

They were able to do that, for the most part, gaining 49 yards on 15 first down carries (3.3 ypc). While that is not an astounding value on first down, it was enough to keep the Raider offense on schedule. They had runs of 9, 8, 6, 6, 6 and 5 yards on first down. Of course they also had six runs stopped for 1 yard or less with two of those being tackles for no gain on first down.

For the game, the Raiders ran the ball 27 times for 92 yards (3.41 ypc). They were able to gain small chunks on second down to set up a whole host of 3rd and shorts (of course they also converted many second downs).

For the season the Broncos have allowed 87 yards on 26 first down carries (3.34 ypc). That is currently good for 11th in the league. The Dolphins are leading the league allowing a paltry 1.94 ypc on first down runs.

Performance on 3rd and Long

So first let’s focus on the good news. The Raiders did not convert on a 3rd and long against us.

Quarter Time ToGo Location Detail Yds
1 6:37 8 RAI 31 Derek Carr pass incomplete short left intended for Jordy Nelson incomplete
1 4:06 9 RAI 21 Doug Martin middle for 6 yards (tackle by Chris Harris) run but short
4 2:51 8 RAI 48 Derek Carr pass complete short right to Martavis Bryant for 3 yards (tackle by Bradley Roby) catch but chort

That included the critical stop on 3rd and 8 to get the ball back at the end of the game for the winning drive.

Overall the Raiders were held to 3 of 10 on 3rd down. They had no 3rd and medium plays. Their other six 3rd down situations were 3rd and short. One of those three conversions was the one yard run by Marshawn Lynch late in the 4th quarter (before we started calling our time outs). The other two conversions were both passes to Amari Cooper on 3rd and 2.

Denver is currently 11th at stopping teams on 3rd and long. Cleveland has not allowed a conversion on 3rd and long this season. Overall Denver is leading the league at stopping the other team on 3rd down - allowing 22.7% conversion (5 of 22). Conversely, the Bengals are allowing conversion on 54.5% of the 3rd downs against them this year.

Thoughts on next game

The Broncos never play well in Baltimore. Hopefully we get the Raisins team that stunk up the place against the Bengals last game and not the team that steamrolled the Bills. The Broncos are 1-4 against the Raisins in Baltimore with that lone win coming in 2012 (which happened not long before that playoff game of which we will not speak). Joe Flacco is not Derek Carr, but most competent NFL QBs would carve up the soft coverage that our secondary was playing against the Raiders. On most Sundays, Joe Flacco is a competent NFL QB.


How does our defense do against Joe Flacco

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Flacco carves us up like Carr just did
    (75 votes)
  • 58%
    Flacco plays about the way he normally does - 60% completion, 1 TD, 1 INT
    (250 votes)
  • 24%
    Flacco gets destroyed by the Orange Rush and is not even taking the snaps at QB by the end of the game
    (106 votes)
431 votes total Vote Now