ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Broncos made their run game a point of emphasis during the week of preparation for Thursday’s game at Oakland.
That showed in the 26-13 win as the team’s 39 carries were the second-most rushing attempts on the season.
Leading the ground game was running back
“Very good,” Head Coach John Fox said of Moreno’s game. “We expected it, we knew the kind of player he was even from looks from at last year. He was very patient for his opportunity and he’s making the most of it. I thought he ran the ball very physical, very smart. He protected well, so all in all I think he had a winning performance.”
Moreno’s success helped spur the Broncos to a nearly 15-minute advantage in time of possession. Denver’s 37:19 of possession against the Raiders marked the highest of the season by more than two full minutes.
The Broncos held the ball for 62.2 percent of the game, wearing down the Raiders defense and keeping their own defenders off the field.
That showed late in the fourth quarter when the Broncos turned to the ground game to run out the clock.
“This is a timed game and we were trying to run some time off the clock,” Fox said after the game. “I think that will help us moving forward, you develop a little bit of a mindset. I think it was good for our offensive line -- the blocking elements -- as well as the running backs to be able to do that to close out a game.”
Ahead by 13 points, the Broncos got the ball back after recovering an onside kick at the Oakland 49-yard line. The Raiders were still in the contest, trailing by two possessions with all three timeouts remaining.
Moreno carried the ball seven of the next eight plays, picking up 39 yards as the Broncos earned three first downs and were able to kneel out the remainder of the clock and not give the Raiders an opportunity to make a last-minute comeback.
“I was really proud of that last drive,” quarterback
A trip to the black hole got the sixth-year kicker back on track as he converted all four of his field goal attempts in Thursday night’s win.
“Well, I did mention to him after the game that I might not have to answer any more questions about that,” Fox laughed. “It was obviously good because he was 100 percent. They were shorter ones. It’d actually been mentioned to me we should back up to kick some, but he actually did very well.”
Prater’s kicks against the Raiders came from 43, 34, 20 and 33 yards.
Although the team would have preferred touchdowns to field goals, those 12 points from Prater proved to be the difference in a 13-point victory.
Still, the team will work on finishing more drives with Prater extra points as opposed to field goals.
“It’s frustrating a lot because you know you want touchdowns,” wide receiver
Prater has converted 111-of-138 (.804 pct.) attempts in his six seasons with the Broncos to rank second in field goal accuracy among the franchise’s kickers.
Prater’s 105 points rank fifth among all kickers in 2012.
Thomas left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury, but returned in the third quarter and finished with a game-high five catches for 88 yards while also drawing a pair of defensive pass interference penalties.
“Demaryius as I mentioned, did leave the game momentarily,” Fox said on Monday. “He came back and played. He’s being evaluated. It doesn’t appear to be anything real serious. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go Monday when we reconvene.”
As for Kuper and Woodyard, playing on a short week worked against them.
“Obviously, if it was more time to recover we would have had more of an opportunity,” Fox said when when asked if the pair would have been able to go if it were a Sunday game. “I know they weren’t able to go and we’re never going to do anything to harm a player or put him in harm’s way so we deactivated them. We’ll see where that comes next week.”
Thomas said his shoulder was “sore” after the game, but agreed that it wasn’t a serious injury.
“Oh, I’ll be fine,” he said. “As long as I can play, I’m good.”