The Norman Transcript

National Sports

September 24, 2013

Horse power

(Continued)

DENVER —

OK, so the evening wasn’t perfect. There were the five incompletions, though two of them were flat-out drops and another two hit receivers in the hands, but would have been difficult catches. The Broncos settled for three field goals and had to punt once. Rookie Montee Ball lost another fumble. Denver came a field goal short of reaching 40 points for the third straight game.

And Manning’s prediction that Chris Clark would be a seamless replacement for injured Ryan Clady as his blindside protector didn’t exactly pan out. Lamarr Houston beat Denver’s new starting left tackle badly in the third quarter for a sack and strip that halted a drive that had reached the Raiders 13.

But Denver was ahead 30-7 at that point.

“Those are things we have to iron out,” Manning said.

And, really, any complaints about Denver’s offense seem like quibbling given what’s gone on so far this season. The record for touchdown passes in a season is 50, set by Brady in 2007. If he keeps up this pace, Manning will throw 64.

As for Denver’s biggest rival, the Raiders — since Manning arrived, the Broncos have outscored them 100-40 in three runaway wins.

The Raiders offense made one big play before the game got out of hand, when Terrelle Pryor (19 for 28 for 281 yards) hit Denarius Moore in the middle of the field and Broncos defensive backs Duke Ihenacho and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie whiffed on the tackle. Moore went 73 yards to cut Oakland’s deficit to 17-7 in the second quarter.

All of which simply gave Manning the ball back more quickly. On the first play of the next drive, he hit Decker, who spun away from his defender for a 61-yard gain. Three plays later, the Broncos were up 17 again after Manning found Thomas on an out route for a 13-yard score.

The Broncos defense, now halfway through Von Miller’s suspension and playing again without injured Champ Bailey, allowed only 9 yards on the ground to Darren McFadden, who came into the game leading the league with 223 yards from scrimmage. McFadden did, however, throw a touchdown — a 16-yard connection to Marcel Reece on a halfback option — and get a late score on the ground.

———

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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