Manning leads Broncos past Raiders 26-13
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Everyone on the outside might be focusing on Peyton Manning setting more records and the Denver Broncos getting an eighth straight win to move a step closer to a first-round bye.
Manning is focused on much smaller goals - showing improvement week to week.
The Broncos managed to do just that in a short week as Knowshon Moreno sparked a struggling running game with 119 yards and a touchdown and Manning threw for 310 yards and another score to help Denver roll past the Oakland Raiders, 26-13 on Thursday night.
"We talk about getting better," Manning said. "All the other stuff, that's not what we talk about. If we get better each week, we'll see what happens from there."
Manning extended his franchise record with his 30th touchdown pass on the game's opening drive, became the fastest quarterback to reach 5,000 career completions and earned his record 12th 10-win season as a starter.
That helped the Broncos (10-3) move a half-game ahead of New England and Baltimore for the second-best record in the AFC. Denver visits Baltimore next week in a game that will help decide who gets a first-round playoff bye.
"That would be great, but we can't really concentrate on that," said cornerback Champ Bailey, who intercepted a pass. "We need to concentrate on what we need to do to get better. Just keep plugging along and that thing will take care of itself."
Carson Palmer threw one interception that thwarted a possible scoring chance for the Raiders (3-10) and lost a fumble that set up a touchdown for the Broncos as Oakland lost its sixth straight game. It is the team's longest skid since also losing six in a row in 2007.
The Raiders played the game with heavy hearts as coach Dennis Allen's father, Grady, died earlier in the week from cardiac arrest. Allen was away from the team for two days but returned Wednesday and coached the game.
"I took my father off life support (voice cracking), and that's not easy to do," Allen said. "So was it hard? Yeah, it was hard. But I know my father would want me to be here with this football team, and I wanted to be here with this football team. So I'm sure you guys can imagine it wasn't an easy situation."
The Raiders' players talked during the week about rallying around their first-year coach, but came out flat against a fierce division rival and were swept in the season series by the Broncos for the first time since 2006.
The game was mildly competitive for only a brief time as the Raiders got on the board late in the first half on a touchdown pass from Palmer to Darren McFadden and then started with the ball in the third quarter down 13-7.
McFadden, returning from a four-game absence for a sprained right ankle, broke off a 36-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, but the Raiders' drive stalled in Denver territory after that and the Broncos took the game over. McFadden later left the game after re-injuring the ankle.
Manning, who joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 5,000 career completions, converted a third-and-11 with a perfectly placed 22-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas. Manning followed that with a 29-yard completion to Eric Decker, but the drive stalled after a pass-interference call on Matt Giordano gave the Broncos a first down at the 1. Matt Prater's 20-yard field goal made it 16-7.
Mike Goodson then made the ill-advised decision to return a kick from 8 yards deep in the end zone, forcing Oakland to start a drive at the 8. Von Miller then beat Khalif Barnes for a sack on third down, stripping the ball from Palmer. Mitch Unrein recovered at the 2 and Moreno scored two plays later to make it 23-7.
Moreno is filling in for the injured Willis McGahee and is giving the Broncos the running game they will need to be successful in the postseason.
"That's something we haven't been good on the past couple of weeks including last week," Manning said. "To do that tonight I think we can build off of that."
The only remaining drama was whether quarterback project Terrelle Pryor would get his first action of the season for Oakland. He didn't, giving the frustrated Raiders fans yet another reason to be upset even though Palmer added a 56-yard TD pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey and finished with 273 yards passing.
"To rack up this many losses in a row in the fashion that we've done is just extremely frustrating," Palmer said.
The Raiders won the coin toss but decided to defer until the second half. The decision backfired as Manning converted three third downs on a 68-yard drive that was capped by a 6-yard pass to Joel Dreessen that was Manning's 30th touchdown pass of the season.
Prater added two field goals after Broncos' drives stalled inside the Oakland 20 as Denver extended the lead to 13-0. The momentum shifted after Phillip Adams' intercepted an underthrown pass from Manning to Matthew Willis in the end zone.
Oakland responded with an 80-yard drive capped by a 6-yard screen pass to McFadden.
After the game police said a man fell from the upper deck at the stadium shortly before kickoff and was in serious condition at a hospital. Initial reports called the fall an accident, but police said it remained under investigation. The team had no comment.
NOTES: Raiders CB Michael Huff left in the first half with a wrist injury. ... Manning needed 221 games to reach 5,000 completions, 18 fewer than Favre. ... Miller has sacks in six straight games. ... WR Bubba Caldwell had his first catch as a Bronco.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated December 7, 2012
We check in for our weekly update from Bill Belichick and get his take on the Pats win over the Texans on the road, the benching of Stevan Ridley, and Antonio Smith's thinly veiled Spygate comments after the Texans lost.
Patriots’ defensive end, Rob Ninkovich, joins Mut and Merloni on a Patriots Monday after the team’s victory in Houston. Rob addresses the postgame comments of Texans’ defensive lineman Antonio Smith and the defense struggling against the run.
Tom Brady joined the show fresh off the teams 9th win of the season in Houston. He dismissed Antonio Smith's spying allegations and told the guys he has already moved on.
Eagle checks in to give Grande and Max a perspective on the Brooklyn Nets after they acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett via trade earlier this summer. He breaks down what he thinks the future holds for the Nets after completing this blockbuster deal.
Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell take some time and look back at the history between the Celtics and the Lakers, specifically the legendary rivalry between Magic and Bird. Legendary broadcaster, Ian Eagle, checks in to give the Brooklyn perspective as KG and Paul Pierce settle into their new home. Sean and Max also reveal the behind the scenes details surrounding Max’s famous “I got the ball” moment.
In the first hour of this edition of the Celtics Summer Cooler, Grande and Max analyze the trade that sent Fab Melo out of Boston. Also in this hour, Max sets the story straight about his history with Larry Bird.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier talk with Jon Lester about contract negotiations, losing a teammate like Jacoby Ellsbury, the World Series run, and looking ahead to 2014.
Rob Bradford and Alex Speier are back witht he Hot Stove Show. They talk about Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the New York Yankees, the Red Sox signings of AJ Pierzynski and Edward Mujica, and wrap it up with Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester, who talks about the World Series run, losing a teammate like Ellsbury and looking towards 2014.
Shawn Thornton joined the show and discussed the teams long layoff leading into their game tomorrow night in Montreal. He told the guys that he anticipates fighting being a part of hockey for years to come.
Lucic joins Danny Picard to talk some hockey after the team’s overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Danny asks Lucic about David Krejci’s game winner yesterday and hockey outsiders that are trying to change the game.
Shawn Thornton joined the show fresh off his big night at MSG and talked about his recent goal scoring prowess. Shawn said that no matter who his line mates are he is always going to be a fourth liner.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. Today the guys discussed the first ever dog custody battle in New York City.
The guys opened the show discussing the major court decisions for Alfonzo Dennard and Jameis Winston coming today. They also touched on the Lunenburg scandal.
Jackie Mac joins Mut and Merloni to discuss Rajon Rondo, the Celtics, and the Jacoby Ellsbury deal with the Yankees.
Johnny Damon joins Mut and Merloni to clear the air about his free agent signing with the Yankees and discusses Ellsbury's signing.
Mut and Merloni react to former Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the Yankees.
We check in with ESPN's great play-by-play man Mike Tirico for a look around the NFL, and a preview of Pats/Browns.
We tackle four topics centered on the movers and shakers in MLB right now.
We start talking about Robbie Cano and the reported 10 year, 240 million dollar contract on the table from the Mariners, and a little debate about him vs Pedroia broke out.
Ryder talks with WEEI.com's Chris Price about the Patriots upcoming game with the Cleveland Browns, and Stevan Ridley's status on the team.
Alex joins the show and gives his thoughts on the Jacoby Ellsbury deal, and what prospects the Red Sox have to fill the hole left in the lineup, or trade pieces to get a player who can fill the void.
John talks to Rob and gets his thoughts on the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox signing AJ Pierzynski, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia signing with Miami.
Mike Lupica of the Daily News joined the show to give the New York reaction to the Ellsbury signing. He said that the Yankees drastically overpaid.More from this show
Buster Olney joins Mut and Merloni to discuss Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the Yankees and the possibility of the Red Sox trading for Andre Ethier.More from this show