Broncos vs. Raiders: Denver Tests Its Running Game

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystDecember 7, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 06:  Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos gets tackled by Miles Burris #56 of the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 6, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Broncos won the game 26-13. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

There are those that believe the Denver Broncos need to be able to run the ball to win in the playoffs. When you have Peyton Manning throwing the ball and the team is winning, it’s hard to know when to rely on the running game to get you a win.

Facing a bad team in Oakland turned out to be just the right time for the Broncos to use the running game as 39 carries aided a 26-13 victory. The Broncos are now 10-3 and are only playing for a first-round bye in the playoffs at this point in the season.

The Broncos mixed run and pass in the first half with mixed results, but after building a lead in the third quarter they let Knowshon Moreno get the tough yards to grind off clock. Moreno finished with 32 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos ended up holding the ball for over 37 minutes, which made it nearly impossible for the Raiders to get back into the game once they were down by two scores.

The Broncos' balanced offensive attack was complemented by their play-making defense. Oakland’s right tackle, Khalif Barnes, was incapable of handling the speed and flexibility of Von Miller and he had to resort to holding him just to keep him from knocking around Carson Palmer.

Miller seems to make an impact play or two every game and just when it seemed like you should be asking, ‘Where is Von?’ he showed up with a strip of Palmer. The Broncos recovered the fumble inside Oakland’s 5-yard line and Moreno iced the game with a one-yard touchdown run to put the Broncos up 23-7.

Champ Bailey got involved in the action by picking off Palmer a play after rookie Rod Streater burned Denver’s secondary for 58 yards. The Raiders were threatening to make a game of it and Bailey’s interception assured the Broncos would get 13 points on the board before the Raiders got another chance.

When Manning wanted or needed yards he was able to get them against Oakland’s giving secondary, and he finished with 310 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 26-of-36 passing. The Raiders did a good job of pressuring Manning in the first half and he was sacked three times.

Manning was under pressure when he threw short of Matthew Willis and it was intercepted with a diving grab by defensive back Phillip Adams. Manning had several other passes that were impacted by Oakland’s pass rush as Denver’s offensive line struggled to get into the right protection schemes.

The Broncos made seven trips to the red zone and scored just two touchdowns, which is also a credit to Oakland’s defensive effort. With Denver unable to take advantage of every opportunity, Matt Prater had a busy night with four field goals.

It wasn’t a perfect game as the Broncos had a couple defensive lapses, injury scares and special teams break downs. The Broncos allowed a 58-yard play and a 56-yard pass play, which are things you never want to see a defense allow—even with a big lead.

Demaryius Thomas had to leave the game and get worked on by a trainer, but he was ultimately able to get back on the field and he still finished with five catches for 83 yards. Eric Decker had 88 yards on eight catches.

Trindon Holliday gave the Broncos another scare when failed to signal for a fair catch on a punt. The Broncos were extremely lucky that Holliday didn’t lose the fumble after getting popped by Mike Mitchell.  Holliday did return the opening kickoff 33 yards and he remains undefeated as a member of the team.