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The Morning After: Week 1

Posted Sep 13, 2011

Eric Decker ignites a comeback effort, Hunter rises to the challenge and injuries hit both sides of the ball.

 

DENVER -- Down by 13 to the Raiders at halftime, the Broncos were in dire need of a spark coming out of the locker room.

And Eric Decker was there to provide it.

After Oakland went three-and-out to start the second half, it was Decker who fueled the Broncos' comeback effort with a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown - the first return for a score in his young career.

"You've got to give credit to my 10 guys up front," Decker said. "They did a great job blocking. I made one guy miss and it literally was a wall to the right. Got free, got a good block on the punter and just ran the rest of the way."

Decker found a seam and utilized the tremendous blocking in front of him to create a one-on-one situation with the Oakland punter Shane Lechler. That's a battle Decker knows he needs to win every time.

"As a returner, it's almost embarrassing if you do get caught by the punter," Decker said. "But there were just some great blocks up front, I made one guy miss, and executed it how the coaches drew it up."

Decker also executed at his wide receiver position, catching three balls for 54 yards.

All of those receptions came in the fourth quarter, with the Broncos down 23-13 and driving. Ultimately, Decker's three catches helped set up Kyle Orton's touchdown pass to Lance Ball, which cut the Oakland lead to three before the Raiders ran out the clock for the 23-20 victory.

"There's no give-up on this team. We've got to battle to the end," Decker said. "We hurt ourselves with some self-inflicted wounds -- offsides, holding, turnovers -- you can't win a game when you do that. So it's going to be a big focus going into the next couple weeks. We need to take care of business, execute, not get behind the chains and not get in third-and-long, because you can't win ball games against a great team."

INJURIES STRIKE

Cornerback Champ Bailey and defensive end Elvis Dumervil are expected to be staples of the Broncos defense in 2011.
Unfortunately neither player was able to finish Monday night's game due to injury.

Bailey exited the game midway through the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.

"It's a hamstring thing, so I've dealt with it before," Bailey said. "Just got to see how it is, get an MRI (today) and go from there."

Dumervil's status became questionable in the first quarter when it was announced that he had suffered a shoulder injury. The defensive end was replaced by Jason Hunter for the majority of the game, although Dumervil did re-enter the action in certain passing situations.

"He tweaked his shoulder," Head Coach John Fox said. "He had a little harder of a time on run-downs than he did on pass-downs. We tried to cut some of those collisions down."

Dumervil said afterwards that he had a strained muscle.

"I tried to give it a go in the game but it couldn't hold up. So I've got to get some treatment and get better," Dumervil said. "It's definitely not what I expected nor what I wanted, but it could be worse. At least I have a chance of recovering so that's a good thing."

In other injury news, Knowshon Moreno suffered a hamstring strain and Brandon Lloyd suffered a groin strain, though the Pro Bowl receiver said he felt "fine" after the game.

HUNTER SEIZES OPPORTUNITY

With Dumervil limited, Hunter made the most of his chance to see extended playing time.

Hunter finished second on the team in combined tackles with six (Brian Dawkins led Denver with nine) and he registered the only sack and forced fumble of the day for the Broncos, both of which came on one play.

"Coach just told me to be ready, so I knew I was going to get an opportunity to get in," Hunter said. "So when they told me you're going to take reps for the rest of the game, I was ready for that."

"I was just excited to play. I love playing football and I just want to go out there and do everything I can to help my team win."