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Running Game Provides Balance

Posted Sep 23, 2013

The Broncos' running backs provided 166 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries Monday night.

DENVER – The Raiders came into the game the top rushing team in the league with Darren McFadden and mobile quarterback Terrelle Pryor but it was the Broncos that came away with the better numbers on the ground.

The Broncos averaged 4.7 yards per carry and without three attempts by quarterback Peyton Manning that number is 5.2 yards per carry. For comparison’s sake, the Broncos hadn’t averaged more than four yards per carry in their first two games.

“Any time you can have the running game going, I know that opens up some things in the passing game and hopefully keeps the defense off balance,” quarterback Peyton Manning said. “I thought all the backs made some good runs tonight. Really some good runs by Ronnie Hillman. Good job on him on that one drive. Two really good runs and then finishing with a touchdown was important.”

The three running backs – Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno -- combined for 166 yards on 32 carries. Hillman and Moreno both also pulled in a catch.

The rookie, Ball, had 61 yards on the ground and Hillman led all rushers with 66.

Hillman scored his first touchdown of the season after he broke a 19-yard run that put the Broncos on the 1-yard line. The scoring run came behind a block from Mitch Unrein.

“I was looking at it — the dude didn't even want any part of Mitch,” Hillman said. “He kind of dove at his leg. I was like, 'OK.' So you just take it in."

Keeping the defense off-balance was the goal of the play call for Hillman’s 19-yard run, he said. It was a quick draw play and the offensive line “did a great job opening holes” for Hillman to find a lane.

That play set up the only Bronco touchdown not scored through the air.

“I was joking with Peyton (Manning), I was like, ‘I can’t believe you let one of the running backs get a touchdown,’” wide receiver Wes Welker said. “But it was good to see and those guys did a great job running the ball. We’re going to expect big things out of them down the road.”

Hillman credited the work of the offensive line for the success in the running game.

"The line made it easier to get in a groove this week,” Hillman said. They had gashing holes and we were just going downhill. We didn't have to read anything, they were just playing so soft that it kind of just helped us as a running back group get a rhythm."