ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – ** Three of Peyton Manning's most consistent weapons continued to cause problems for opposing defenses and the Broncos were able to dominate on the ground on both sides of the ball.
THOMASES, SANDERS THRIVE
Demaryius Thomas finished Sunday's game with 108 yards on 11 catches, his sixth consecutive game with over 100 receiving yards. But his excellent performance seems to be barely noticed and taken for granted.
That is simply a testament to how commonplace it is for Thomas to put on a show.
He is just the ninth player in pro football history have a six-game streak of at least 100 receiving yards, and is only two games away from tying Calvin Johnson's record of eight straight. While Thomas was unable to get in the end zone, his fellow receivers were able to carry the load as Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas each had two scores.
Sanders, who has been consistently making fantastic, acrobatic catches all season dove into the end zone to catch a touchdown pass to put the Broncos up 20-10 at the half. While the play was reviewed, Sanders was confident it was a touchdown.
"Yeah, I knew that I had security," he said after the game. "Even when I hit the ground I knew that it was a touchdown. I kind of came to the sideline, and everyone was asking me if it was a touchdown, but I was one hundred percent it was. It felt good to get in the end zone again."
Sanders was unable to find the end zone in his first five games as a Bronco, but he now has six in the last four game. This was his second career multi-touchdown game, his first being against San Diego in Week 8.
Julius Thomas had touchdown catches of 10 and 32 yards and he now has as many touchdown catches (12) as he did all of last season. His versatility and ability to make big plays was put on display for his hometown crowd.
"[Julius Thomas] is a tough match up; there are multiple good offenses in this league that required those types of talents and Julius is tremendous," Head Coach John Fox said after the game. "He is a great young man [and] he works hard at it. He's very gifted. Peyton has a lot of confidence in him. Like I said, he's a tough matchup for linebackers and safeties that play in this league."
There was never any doubt that Manning's weapons are numerous and consistent. Sunday's win was a true showcase for the vast array of talent in the Broncos' receiving corps.
HARRIS JR., BRONCOS FORCE TURNOVERS
Chris Harris Jr. continues to prove why he is one of the best corners in the league.
He totaled four solo tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass defensed on Sunday. He shut down receivers all day and was key in holding the Raiders to 192 receiving yards. While the Raiders were able to muster up 17 points, ten of those resulted from turnovers and the final touchdown was in garbage time.
The fourth-year corner has been playing lights out all season and he said the game has slowed down for him.
"Being experienced and playing as much as I've played, it's very slow," Harris said. "I can read what the offense is trying to do to me and how they try to attack me, so I can just go out there and make plays."
His biggest play of the game came in the second half as Derek Carr panicked and tossed a pass to tackle Khalif Barnes, who began running the ball, but was hit by Malik Jackson. Barnes fumbled the ball and Harris recovered at the Oakland 18 and the Broncos capitalized on the turnover, scoring a touchdown.
"I was kind of shocked that he got the ball, but I saw the ball on the ground and I tried to scoop it to go score, but I mishandled it and I knew I had to get on it," he said.
While Harris had a fumble recovery, Bradley Roby had his second straight game with a pick and T.J. Ward had his own interception near midfield. Both picks led to touchdowns. While the Broncos struggled with turnovers offensively in the first quarter, the defense's takeways helped put the Broncos ahead.
NO SACKS ON SUNDAY… BUT THAT'S OKAY
For the first time all season, the Broncos were unable to sack the opposing team's quarterback.
Von Miller was able to take down Carr for a loss of seven in the third quarter, but Roby was flagged for an illegal use of hands, negating the play. While the defensive line couldn't get a sack, the Broncos were still dominant in containing Carr and making him uncomfortable in the pocket.
"We were playing big time defense," Miller said. "And that's what I'm here for. It's what I'm here to contribute to the defense so we can be one of the top defenses in the league. Sacks are good but I'd rather play championship defense and that's what we did today."
Malik Jackson echoed Miller's sentiment that leaving Oakland without a sack is just fine, as the result is what's key.
"Yeah, he did not want to take a sack at all," Jackson said of Carr. "That kind of sucks as a D-line but we're getting pressure, getting them agitated and when you see him getting up after Von hit him, you see him yelling at his O-linemen and stuff. We're happy about that. As pass rushers, the sack is the biggest thing, but just getting them off the spot and getting guys like Roby and T.J. and Rahim (Moore) the chances to intercept the ball, that's even better than a sack to me. I'm just happy things are going our way."
BRONCOS DOMINATE ON THE GROUND
After struggling to gain momentum on the ground against New England with just 43 rushing yards, the Broncos' rushing attack appeared to be back on track on Sunday as they accumulated 118 yards. C.J. Anderson led the running back corps with 90 yards on 13 attempts and Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson also made contributions.
"I just do my role," Anderson, who had a career-high 90 rushing yards, said. "I just do what they tell me to do. If they say, 'C.J., go in,' then go in. You prepare every day like you're going to be the starter. All four of us -- five of us now, with Kapri -- we all do that in the backfield. Whoever they're going to tell to go in, I think anybody can have a game, so it just feels good that we have a stable of backs, no matter who's in the game, that can always have fun and do their thing."
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos' rush defense continually plugged holes and prevented Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden from being productive. The Broncos came into the game with the NFL's No. 1 rush defense and they allowed the Raiders just 30 rushing yards, including 11 in the first half.
"We played solid all across the board and I'm proud of our guys," Miller said. "That's what we needed, just a bounce-back win like that and we saw it. We saw some adversity before but we stuck together and we were able to get the job done."