The Denver Broncos got back on track with a blowout win over the winless Oakland Raiders. It won’t erase the memories of what happened in New England last week, but the Broncos did what good teams do. They took care of business versus an inferior opponent.
What I liked:
The Defense: Before you say yes the defense played well but it was only the Raiders, consider this. Despite their 0-9 record, the Raiders offense has been good at times. They scored 28 points on the San Diego Chargers earlier this season, and put up 24 on the Seattle Seahawks last week. The Broncos defense kept the Broncos in the game early when the offense was struggling, and then suffocated the Raiders when they took the lead. Take away the garbage touchdown drive at the end of the game, and the Raiders offense never passed midfield without the aid of a turnover.
Bradley Roby: The rookie cornerback was special on Sunday. He had a second quarter interception that changed the momentum of the game, and frankly should have had another one in the fourth quarter. He was great in both coverage and in run support. The Broncos have three cornerbacks who can all play at a high level, and Roby is only getting better.
CJ Anderson: Much like Roby changed the game on defense, Anderson got the Broncos offense rolling. His catch and run on a simple swing pass for a score seem to wake the Broncos offense up. He was also terrific in the running game breaking off several long runs and added more than 70 yards in receiving. Whether or not he starts, Anderson needs to continue to get the football.
Emmanuel Sanders: The free agent signee from Pittsburgh continues to impress. He added two more touchdowns and just makes plays.
Julius Thomas: After a couple of quiet weeks, Thomas had a big day versus the Raiders. He had six catches including two touchdowns.
TJ Ward: Ward played his best game as a Bronco. He came away with his first interception of the season and was dominant versus the run. He did give up a touchdown late but the game was long decided at that point.
Defensive line: We talked about the defense as a whole, but it was the front four that really set the tone. The Raiders could not run the ball at all and quarterback Derick Carr was harassed all day. The Broncos did not register any sacks but the consistent pressure led directly to three turnovers.
What I didn’t like:
The slow start: After last week’s loss, everyone expected the Broncos to come out flying and the opposite was true. Peyton Manning looked terrible for the first 25 minutes and the Broncos were actually behind late in the first half. They got away with it versus the Raiders but they cannot start that way when they play better teams.
Penalties: The Broncos actually put together two good drives in the first quarter but penalties prevented them from scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Some of the penalties are understandable on the revamped offensive line, and they cleaned them up as the game progressed.
An easy win over the Raiders does not mean everything is perfect again after last week, but it’s a win and in this league you never take winning for granted. Everyone thought the Pittsburgh Steelers would beat the New York Jets easily and look what happened.
The Broncos are 7-2 and sitting right where they need to be after nine games, and face one more road game in St. Louis before returning home.