Coming into Monday night at Mile High Stadium, Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson had never picked off Peyton Manning, whom Woodson beat out for the Heisman trophy in 1997.
Manning made sure things stayed that way.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback let the world know he is for real, leading the Broncos to a thumping of the Raiders, 37-21.
Manning threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers, earning credit for the win from Raiders head coach Dennis Allen:
“Manning beat us… We knew that takeaways were going to be critical in this game, we knew that time of possession was going to be a critical factor in this game. Other than getting the two takeaways in the second half, we really weren’t able to do the things that we wanted to get done.”
The Raiders (1-2) now face an uphill battle in the AFC West with undefeated Denver and the Kansas City Chiefs, both 3-0.
The Oakland offense got on the board via a 73-yard catch and run touchdown by Denarius Moore in the second quarter, then followed up with a touchdown pass thrown by running back Darren McFadden.
McFadden rolled to his right on a fake run and floated the ball perfectly over the shoulder of fullback Marcel Reece for a 16-yard score.
McFadden scored the final touchdown of the game on a one-yard rush, which was preceded by a fumble from Broncos rookie running back Montee Ball.
All game, Pryor was defended by a makeshift offensive line about as effective as an Atari trying to play Grand Theft Auto V.
After a holding call forced a Raiders first-and-20, Pryor and running back combined on two runs for 13 yards, setting up third-and-seven.
Pryor was then sacked on the Raiders 17 yard line, which opened up the Broncos final scoring drive of the first half. In the fourth quarter, Pryor scrambled right on what appeared to be a designed quarterback run, only to be met with a gang of Broncos linebackers.
Pryor took a whack to his head from a Broncos helmet, and was diagnosed with a concussion.
While the Raiders starting quarterback has been improving steadily, Allen wasn’t entirely pleased with his performance, something he touched on post-game:
“I thought (Pryor) was a little hot and cold early in the game, he wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be. As the game wore on, specifically in the second half, he executed a bit more and made a few big plays for us. .”
Penalties were a large factor in the loss, with Oakland being flagged for multiple holding calls, as well as a questionable pass interference call on tight end Mychal Rivera.
The Raiders magnified their offensive issues by continuing to struggle to convert on third down. Oakland was only able to manufacturer five conversions in 12 attempts.
The Broncos punted just once, while Marquette King punted six times for a decent 52.5 yard average.
Moving beyond the lopsided score, Oakland can take away a few key things from this game:
The Raiders held Denver to the smallest point margin of the season. Baltimore lost at Mile High Stadium by 21 points and the New York Giants home loss of 18 points.
Terrelle Pryor exercised starting-quality judgement despite an excellent Broncos pass rush and even better coverage. If he can continue, the question might switch from “will the Raiders be able to draft Teddy Bridgewater,” to “do the Raiders really need Teddy Bridgewater?”
Lamarr Houston continued to wreak havoc, this time on the Denver pass blockers. A turnover by Denver came on a sack by Houston, which turned into a forced fumble recovered by defensive end Justin Hunter.
Darren McFadden threw a touchdown pass. Yes, you just read that. A designed trick play left fullback Marcel Reece wide open in the paint, McFadden gained experience throwing the ball while at Arkansas.
Some bad play by Rivera aside, he has big shoes to fill with David Ausberry being placed on injured reserve. He has been playing at a level that exceeds most expectations.
Denarius Moore finished Monday night with 124 yards receiving, while Brice Butler had 54 and Rod Streater finished with 42 yards.