The Good and the Bad in the Denver Broncos Win Over the Oakland Raiders


Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman (23) runs the ball against Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong (57) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 47-14. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos ended the regular season in style with a 47-14 win over the Oakland Raiders. They finished the season at 12-4 and will enjoy a much needed bye week. The Broncos won on Sunday without some key players on defense and others who were playing banged up on both sides of the ball. They figure to be a lot healthier the next time they take the field, and that’s why Sunday’s win was so important.

The defense that played well versus the Raiders will get both TJ Ward and Brandon Marshall back and key players on offense like Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas, Ryan Clady, Orlando Franklin, Louis Vasquez and others now have time for their minor injuries to heal.

There was a lot to like in the season finale, so let’s get to it. Here’s the disclaimer so I don’t need to write it every time, yes I understand it was only the Raiders.

What I liked:

The defense: Outside of one drive at the start of the second half, the Raiders did nothing on offense. They had six 3 and outs in the first half, and only managed 45 total yards before the break. The Broncos got early pressure on Derek Carr and the secondary was all over the Raiders’ receivers. The defense also ended the game in style with a fumble return for a score and another interception. As mentioned earlier, the Broncos did that without two of their best players on that side of the ball.

Offensive balance: The Broncos were able to run and throw with equal effectiveness and moved the ball well all day. Peyton Manning did not have a huge day but made the throws he had to and hit some big ones to both D. Thomas and Wes Welker.

CJ Anderson/Ronnie Hillman: Anderson had another big day with almost 90 yards and three touchdowns, and Hillman was sharp in his first game back. The two backs complement each other really well; Anderson is a thumper who pounds on defenses and Hillman brings a nice change of pace. This is what the Broncos envisioned with Montee Ball and Hillman at the start of the season.

Special teams: After a disaster on Monday night, the special teams for the Broncos were excellent versus the Raiders. Omar Bolden all but ended the competitive portion of the contest with a long kickoff return to start the second half. Connor Barth hit four more field goals and the coverage units were almost perfect. Throw in a couple of nice punt returns by Welker, and it was a complete afternoon for the special teams.

Virgil Green: The tight end who has been so vital to the success of the Broncos running game finally got his first touchdown in the NFL.

The offensive line: The Raiders got some early pressure including one sack but after that, Manning had plenty of time to throw and the running game was effective from start to finish. A shout out to Ben Garland who played very well for Franklin who left with a concussion.

A great way to finish: The blowout win was exactly what the Broncos needed going into the playoffs, and it provides some momentum. Plus there were no more major injuries, and now the Broncos have a chance to be as healthy as they’ve been in weeks when the playoffs begin.

What I didn’t like:

Injury to David Bruton: It looked bad but the good news is it is only a concussion and Bruton has already been released from the hospital.

That’s about it, there’s always some other things that could be better but it’s hard to be too critical after a 47-14 win.

The Broncos won five of their last six and despite some hyper critical media and fans, they are more than capable of doing some damage over the next month.

The Broncos have earned the right to sit back and relax for a week!