The rivalry between your Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders runs so deep that our recent collection of Raiders suck memes only hints at the passions on both sides. But it's tough to sustain the usual level of antipathy this year -- because even though the Raiders are improving, the 2013-14 Broncos are so much better than them (and maybe everyone else) that Denver's Monday Night Football romp, which wasn't nearly as close as the 37-21 final suggests, had considerably less suspense than the average episode of Duck Dynasty.
The biggest story line at the outset involved the season-ending injury to left tackle Ryan Clady, and the prospect of Peyton Manning having to run for his life from the Raiders' allegedly fierce pass rush. But that came to naught: Manning was only sacked once, and while he fumbled on the play, it didn't turn any tides.
Those who insisted the Raiders had a chance in the contest also touted Oakland QB Terrelle Pryor and running back (and past Broncos killer) Darren McFadden as big challenges to the Denver defense, which remains undermanned due to the absence of alleged urine-borrower Von Miller and Champ Bailey, still sidelined with a foot injury. Not exactly: Pryor wound up with 281 through the air, but the majority of that was in garbage time (i.e., the entire second half) and he only scampered for 36 yards, most of it on a single play, while McFadden chalked up just nine yards on twelve (!) carries.
Oh yeah: Pryor left the game late with a concussion, after being sandwiched between Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard, a pair of linebackers whose speed has come as a pleasant surprise to anyone who thought Miller's absence would slow the squad.
And the Broncos? Well, here's what happened the first time Denver had the ball.
A Manning completion to Julius Thomas that was called back due to a penalty.
A Manning incompletion to Knowshon Moreno.
A Manning completion to Eric Decker.
Another Manning completion to Eric Decker.
A Knowshon Moreno run.
Another Knowshon Moreno run.
A Manning completion to Demaryius Thomas.
A Manning completion to Wes Welker.
A Manning completion to Eric Decker. Touchdown.
Continue for more about last night's Broncos victory, including another photo and a video recap.
No, this wasn't an uninterrupted string of glory -- but it was methodical and predictable, with Oakland's defenders often looking as much like spectators as the thousands of orange-clad faithful in the stands. There was nothing they could do.
Moreover, for the first time this season, the Broncos receivers caught pretty much everything thrown their way, including Decker, who made up for his previous case of the dropsies with eight catches/133 yards and that score. As a result, Manning's stat line shows that out of 37 passes last night, 32 of them were caught, all by the guys in uniforms like his. He still hasn't thrown an interception this season.
After the game, Manning groused about the number of times the Broncos had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, as well as Montee Ball's late fumble (which was indeed worrisome and inexcusable) and some unnecessary penalties. But that's the equivalent of a billionaire bitching about the price of parking. Right now, the Broncos are playing at such an elevated level that it's hard to imagine anyone, let alone the in-flux Philadelphia Eagles, their next opponent, giving them much of a test.
Boring? Maybe -- but it's the kind of dullness Broncos loyalists adore.
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Look below to see a game recap from the Raiders' perspective, feature old Denver performance enhancer, Bill Romanowski.