After overwhelming another overmatched division rival, Peyton Manning and the streaking Denver Broncos can turn their attention to much...
OAKLAND, Calif. — After overwhelming another overmatched division rival, Peyton Manning and the streaking Denver Broncos can turn their attention to much more meaningful opponents.
Manning threw for 310 yards and had his 30th touchdown pass of the season on the game’s opening drive to help the Broncos roll to their eighth straight victory, 26-13 over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.
Knowshon Moreno ran for 119 yards and a score on a career-high 32 carries, and Matt Prater kicked four field goals to help 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.
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. This is the team’s longest skid since also losing six in a row in 2007.
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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.
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.
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. Prater’s 20-yard field goal made it 16-7.
NFL considering eliminating kickoffs
With the NFL at least considering the idea of eliminating kickoffs, a proposal that commissioner Roger Goodell mentions in this week’s Time magazine, the Giants and Jets seem to believe that the rules are just fine as they are now.
“I think it’s a good part of the game,” Giants special-teams coach Tom Quinn said of kickoffs. “I think kicking off from the 35 has decreased the number of injuries. We continue to see that trend.”
The latest proposal was promoted by Bucs coach Greg Schiano.
From the article: “After a touchdown or field goal, instead of kicking off, a team would get the ball on its own 30-yard line, where it’s fourth-and-15. The options are either to go for it and try to retain possession, or punt. If you go for it and fall short, the opposing team would take over with good field position. In essence, punts would replace kickoffs, and punts are less susceptible to violent collisions than kickoffs.”
Roethlisberger will start
PITTSBURGH — The Steelers aren’t taking any chances with their franchise quarterback’s sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib.
Though the Steelers confirmed Ben Roethlisberger will return to the starting lineup Sunday against San Diego after missing three weeks due to injury, Roethlisberger will take the field with a little extra protection.
Roethlisberger will play with a custom fit rib/chest compression shirt and a layer of Kevlar-lined composite in his shoulder pads to help absorb hits to his clavicle and shoulder joint regions.
The padding, made by Unequal Technologies, has grown popular across the NFL. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick wore a similar compression shirt after injuring his ribs a few years ago and dozens of players — including Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison — use Unequal CRT in their helmets.
• A day after being ripped by Browns left tackle Joe Thomas for the way he handled his contract dispute during his final season in Cleveland, Kansas City Chiefs running back Peyton Hillis fired back with a verbal assault: “Joe Thomas, he can have his opinions all he wants. He’s kind of like a crazy ex-girlfriend. It’s been over a year. Get over it.”
• Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune the NFL fined him $21,000 for his horse-collar tackle on running back Leon Washington during Sunday’s overtime loss to the Seahawks. Urlacher, who may miss the rest of the regular season with a strained hamstring, said he would appeal.
• New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller (ankle) and backup quarterback Tim Tebow (ribs) are again uncertain to play this week.
• Goodell said the league is willing to contribute funding to help build a stadium in Oakland to keep the Raiders in town. Goodell said it is crucial the Raiders improve their stadium situation.