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Broncos at Raiders: Notebook

Posted Nov 6, 2011

Royal's punt return puts Broncos ahead; Pass rush and secondary complement one another; Broncos just one game back in division.


OAKLAND, Calif. -- With the score tied 24-24, Eddie Royal fielded a punt and raced upfield on a return for the first time all season. Seconds later, he crossed the goal line to give the Broncos a 31-24 lead, the final points the team would need in its 38-24 victory.

“It was a deep kick and I knew I had time to kind of set it up,” Royal said following the game. “I have to give the guys holding up the gunners a lot of credit – André Goodman and (Jonathan) Wilhite – they did a good job single pressing. I got up there and Dante (Rosario) made a great block, I cut off of him and the next thing I knew, it was just don’t get caught.”

Royal’s punt return for a touchdown was the second of his career and represented the sixth-longest punt return in team history.

“It was a lot of encouragement for our team,” said linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who is the team’s special teams captain. “That was a big, enthusiastic play that Eddie made. Eddie does what Eddie does every time he returns the ball. He makes big things happen, and that’s something that we’ve been looking for on special teams.”

Royal, who had fielded just one punt all season – which he fair caught – took advantage of the opportunity given to him by the coaching staff late in the game.

“It has been awhile,” he said. “I was excited to get back there. I practice it every day just preparing for this one opportunity and we made it happen.”

When asked whether fans should expect to see him out there on punt returns more often, the fourth-year receiver smiled.

“We’ll see,” he said, laughing. “It’s up to (the coaches). I’m happy to do it whenever they ask me to and make big plays for this team. I’m just happy we got a win.”

Royal’s return marked the second punt return touchdown for the Broncos this season – both of which have come against the Raiders.

“I was so excited,” said wide receiver Eric Decker, who returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in the season opener against Oakland. “I ran onto the field and I thought I was going to get called for 12 men on the field because I was so excited for him. He’s a dynamic playmaker and he’s had some injuries in the past – to see him back in his form is exciting.”


The defensive front and secondary worked together to register three interceptions and two sacks of Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer.

“It’s a big effect because we know what (the pass-rushers) are capable of,” said cornerback Champ Bailey, who notched his 49th and 50th career regular-season interceptions in the game. “All we have to do is cover our guys for a few seconds and they’ll be there.”

The defense also had five quarterback hits.

“(We had) great coverage,” said linebacker Von Miller, who shared a sack with defensive lineman Elvis Dumervil in the first quarter. “Champ Bailey – it’s just always good when you have guys like that in the secondary, and Chris Harris – it was good to see him get a pick today, too.”

Bailey enjoyed the give-and-take between the front and back of the defense.

“It works,” he said. “I know one of them later in the game, somebody got a sack, and I know that was a coverage sack because (Palmer) was pumping and trying to go somewhere. It goes hand-in-hand.”

Dumervil, who recorded the fourth-quarter sack thanks to tight coverage by the secondary, was happy to get his first sacks of the season, but was more pleased with the result of the game.

“It was a good win,” Dumervil said. “It felt good I got the sack, but most importantly we got the W.”

Head Coach John Fox enjoyed the sight of a healthy Dumervil and Bailey back on the field together.

“Both of them have had nagging injuries,” Fox said. “It was good to see those guys (on the field). They’ve been working very hard in practice, and it was good to see them getting rewarded today.”


The Broncos’ victory over Oakland combined with San Diego’s loss to Green Bay and Kansas City’s loss to Miami allowed Denver to gain one full game on the rest of the AFC West. Heading into next week’s game at Kansas City, the Broncos are just one game out of first place in the division.

“We’re still in it,” Dumervil said after the game. “It’s going to be a long season. We all know that. I think we made a lot of strides today as a team.”

Woodyard said that the team knows that it controls its own destiny in the postseason hunt.

“We do (realize that),” said the fourth-year linebacker. “That’s the thing we realized going into this week – some things go good for us on the outside and we handle our business this week and we’re right back in the race – and we are.”

With the Broncos’ season at its midpoint, the players know that there is still a long ways to go. The team can enjoy the victory, but realizes the need to focus on next week’s game.

“We just take it one game at a time,” said running back Willis McGahee, who topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the fourth time this season. “We’re not looking forward or weeks ahead. We’re going to take it one game at a time. Next week we have another divisional game and we’re just going to go from there.”