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Defense Delivers


DENVER --The two aspects that the Denver defense prioritized in preparing for the Oakland Raiders were stopping running back Darren McFadden and getting off the field on third down.

Missions accomplished.

McFadden was held to 13 carries for 34 yards and the Oakland offense converted on just 1-of-12 third downs.

"We wanted to go out there and play the type of defense that we know we're all capable of playing -- consistently, every snap," said linebacker Keith Brooking, who saw his most extensive action as a Bronco and made five tackles. "I think we did that for the most part."

Entering the contest, McFadden had averaged 6.3 yards per carry against the Broncos. On Sunday, he managed less than half of that.

"He's been outstanding on this field," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "We knew going in that we had to contain him. Don't let him make any big plays. We were able to do that."

McFadden, along with the entirety of the Oakland offense, was kept out of the end zone. Not only did the Denver defense keep the Raiders from reaching pay dirt, it also pitched a second-half shutout.

"That's one thing you pride yourself on, not giving up offensive touchdowns," Bailey said. "When you can go into an NFL game and come out like that, that says a lot about what we did out there."

Oakland gained fewer than 100 second-half yards and didn't pick up a first down in the second half until two minutes had elapsed in the fourth quarter.

It all began with shutting down Oakland's ground game, forcing its offense into third-and-long situations.

"I think when you play well on first and second down, it gives you a better chance to get off the field," Bailey said. "We did that today. These guys were great up front. I've got to give them all the credit, because they stopped the run. This is a good running football team. To pound the run like that, I've got to give them a lot of credit for that."

Once the defense forced Oakland into third-and-long situations, its relentless pass rush kept quarterback Carson Palmer from finding his receivers downfield. After Palmer completed 9-of-13 attempts in the first half, the Broncos made defensive adjustments in the locker room and limited the quarterback to 10-of-21 passing in the second half.

Brooking said a huge part of that was "making him uncomfortable."

After hitting Palmer just once in the first half and recording no sacks, the defense ended up with three sacks and hit Palmer eight times.

"Once that second half rolled around, I think guys kind of honed in on what they're supposed to do," Bailey said. "That's all it takes."

The defense's second-half effort didn't fall to the wayside. During the third quarter in which the Raiders went three-and-out on its first four possessions and didn't pick up a first down, the offense scored three touchdowns. Both sides of the ball were clicking on all cylinders.

"Anytime you get in a rhythm offensively, and the defense is making the other offense go three-and-out, it's a great feeling," wide receiver Brandon Stokley said.

The end result was a 37-6 rout over a divisional rival - and if the defense continues to play at the level it did against Oakland, it's a result that can be duplicated many times.

"I've been around a lot of football players in this league for the last 15 years," Brooking said. "And I know for a fact as long as we take care of our responsibility and play with sound technique, they're not going to beat us."