OAKLAND, Calif. -- A week after clinching a spot in the playoffs, the Broncos showed no signs of slowing down.
Denver (10-3) moved to 5-0 in the AFC West and swept the division on the road for the second consecutive season with a 26-13 win against the Oakland Raiders (3-10) Sunday at O.co Coliseum.
"(Head) Coach (John) Fox says it all the time -- records and stats get thrown out the window this time of year because everybody has something to play for," tight end
On three separate occasions, the Raiders seemed ready to grab the game's momentum. But on all three, the Broncos never let it come to fruition.
The first swing came in the first quarter. Thanks to a 6-yard touchdown catch by Dreessen and a 43-yard field goal by
But a 58-yard reception by Oakland's Rod Streater threatened to put the Raiders right back in the thick of things.
“That was a big momentum shift for them," cornerback
On the very next play, however, Bailey took matters into his own hands, jumping in front of a Palmer pass intended for tight end Brandon Myers for an interception that he returned to the Denver 21-yard line.
It was the 34th pick of Bailey's Broncos career, tying him for fourth in franchise history.
The second potential momentum shift came late in the second quarter, when a defensive play set up the Raiders for a comeback.
The Broncos' previous three drives had each gone 10 plays for scores, and the club was up 13-0 thanks to another Prater field goal. Driving again, quarterback
The pass, however, was intercepted by Raiders defensive back Phillip Adams, who made the diving pick in the end zone.
"I'd love to have that one back," Manning said after the game. "You'd like to get points there."
With just one first down to that point in the game -- down 16 to one in that category at the time -- the Raiders picked up six first downs on their ensuing drive.
In 14 plays, the Raiders drove 80 yards down the field to pull within a possession, thanks to a 6-yard touchdown by running back Darren McFadden on a misdirection play.
At halftime, Denver went to the locker room up 13-7.
"That stunk," Bailey said. "You want to go in knowing that you stopped them, because we know they’re going to get the ball back coming out (in the second half). When you’re in that situation, you’ve definitely got to find a way to get off the field.”
But the defense didn't let that drive snowball, and helped put the game away for the Broncos in the third quarter.
After a 20-yard Prater field goal put Denver up 16-3, linebacker
“Our secondary, they held him up for just a split-second longer, made him pump-fake it and hold it for a split-second longer and I was able to get there," Miller said.
Two plays later, running back
Prater's fourth field goal -- which tied a career high for his most made field goals in a game -- closed Denver's scoring.
Still, a 56-yard, catch-and-run touchdown by wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey trimmed Denver's lead to 26-13 with a little more than five-and-a-half minutes left in the game. After Oakland's onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, Denver was tasked with closing out the win and ensuring that one final momentum shift didn't turn into a full-blown comeback.
On the strength of Moreno's running, the Broncos picked up three first downs on its final drive as Oakland exhausted its timeouts. The Raiders didn't see the ball again, and Manning took three consecutive kneel-downs to seal the victory.
"I thought Knowshon ran it tough," Manning said. "I was really proud of that last drive. I thought that was really something special. I know that’s probably more of a line coach’s dream – it’s probably not exciting for anybody doing fantasy, but any time you can run the ball and make them use timeouts and continue to run the clock and end the game with a kneel-down, that is something we can build on."
With a talented Baltimore Ravens squad up next on the schedule, however, the Broncos harped on a need to finish drives with touchdowns as opposed to field goals.
“That’s our goal – to score touchdowns.," said wide receiver