Check out photos from Sunday's game as the Broncos renew their rivalry with the Raiders.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –** Two picks, two field goals and two punts.
That's how the offense's day began in Oakland.
But a momentum-shifting interception by Bradley Roby with 3:37 left in the half gave the Broncos the ball near midfield. This play seemed to revitalize the offense after its uncharacteristically slow start: the Broncos went on to score touchdowns on their next five drives.
"I'm not sure it was any major adjustments, I just thought we executed a little better," Manning said during his postgame press conference. "Obviously not the way you want to start a game on the second play, having a turnover but we moved the ball pretty well after that, had a couple of red zone sort of self-inflicted wounds that cost us some touchdowns and had to settle for field goals… Then we were able to overcome that finally with some touchdowns finishing in the red zone, which is something we've done a good job of this year."
Manning threw picks during the Broncos' first and fourth drives that lead to ten points for the Raiders.
The Broncos were stopped near the goal line during their third and fourth drives of the game. These "self-inflicted wounds" cost the offense touchdowns early on as the Broncos had a first-and-goal at the four, but Manning missed a wide-open Ronnie Hillman and a Manny Ramirez false start pushed the Broncos back to the 9-yard line. An Orlando Franklin false start on the following drive backed the Broncos up once again and Brandon McManus had to step in on both occasions for field goals.
Manning was confident that the early-game mistakes were correctable and he went on to throw five touchdown passes in less than 17 minutes. While the execution on offense dramatically improved, he noted that key defensive stops allowed the Broncos to start with excellent field position as they got the ball in Oakland territory on four of their seven second-half possessions.
The Broncos' offensive line looked vastly different from the one that took the field against New England as Will Montgomery took over at center, Louis Vasquez played at right tackle and Ramirez moved to right guard. Manning said he will look at the tape tomorrow to determine the cause of the procedural penalties but the personnel shifts on the line didn't require him to adjust.
"It's not easy playing a new position, I'm not sure I could really relate to it so I give credit to all those guys handling the adjustment on the road and playing well," Manning said of the offensive line's performance.
Not only did the line keep Manning on his feet, the Broncos' run game took steps forward the team accumulated 118 yards on the ground. C.J. Anderson, who grew up in nearby Vallejo, Calif., led the Broncos with 90 yards on 13 attempts.
While Anderson's 90 rushing yards were a career-high, his most impressive play was a fantastic 51-yard catch and run that he took for a touchdown. In the second quarter on third-and-eight, Manning connected with Anderson for a short pass and he immediately broke a tackle by Miles Burris. Anderson would evade three more tackles while carefully avoiding stepping out of bounds and darted downfield for the Broncos' first touchdown of the game and his first of the season.
Manning considers that play one of the best he's seen this year.
"Easily could have been, maybe a catch for minus-two yards or something and next thing you know, he breaks the tackle and I don't know how many guys he made miss, but it was just an effort play on his part," Manning said. "Looked like he picked up some blocks downfield from some guys, which was good to see. Everybody kept playing but just a truly incredible effort play on his part to take a, like I said, potentially a catch for a loss and turn it into a 50-something-yard touchdown and that really gave us a spark offensively and of course the whole sideline was fired up. C.J. played great today.
"He knows this offense well. He's on top of everything back there in the backfield. I have a real comfort with him back there. But that play in particular was very special."
Manning said the expectations for the running backs don't change depending on who is in the backfield with him and today "today C.J. kind of had the hot hand." Anderson, who has shown glimpses of excellence all season, became just the fifth running back in team history to post at least 70 yards rushing and 70 yards receiving in a single game. In addition to Anderson's score, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders each had two touchdowns receptions.
Manning finished the game 31-of-44 for 340 yards and with his ninth five-touchdown game of his career, breaking Drew Brees' previous record of eight. While the accolades and record-breaking performances seem to keep piling up for Manning, he doesn't dwell on them.
"Certainly in the middle of the season, while you're trying to win games, it's really kind of what you focus on, trying to do your job," Manning said. "This was an important game for us to respond with a win on the road, going to go on the road again next week. It was a good division win. That's all you really think about. Anything that comes along the way, certainly I have great appreciation for the history of the game and those types of things. But I thought the most important thing was to get a good road win today."