DENVER -- Through three weeks of the season, the fourth quarter had been the Broncos' sweet spot, outscoring opponents 45-6 in the frame.
On Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos didn't need those late-game heroics, doing their damage in the third quarter en route to a 37-6 victory, snapping Oakland's four-game winning streak at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
"I know one thing -- our fans love this type of win," cornerback Champ Bailey said of the Broncos' largest margin of victory against Oakland in 50 years. "To beat the Raiders like this at home, it's been a long time coming because they've had our number here for a number of years and we just couldn't have it any more."
After falling behind early in both of the team's losses, the Broncos talked all week about getting off to a fast start.
On Sunday, they did just that, stringing together an 11-play, 80-yard opening drive that culminated in a 22-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Peyton Manning to tight end Joel Dreessen.
"That was something we really emphasized all week in practice, coming out of the blocks early and having good execution," said Manning, who finished the game 30-of-38 for 338 yards, three touchdowns and a 130.0 passer rating. "So that was encouraging."
But Denver came out of the locker room with a vengeance.
"We came in to change some things at halftime and we just lit it up," said Thomas, who led the game with 103 receiving yards.
The defense forced four Oakland three-and-outs in the third quarter, while the offense racked up 21 points and began a fourth drive that rolled into the fourth quarter and ended with a Matt Prater field goal to bring the score to 34-6.
Wide receiver Eric Decker got the scoring streak started with a 17-yard touchdown from Manning, in which the receiver tiptoed the sideline en route to the end zone.
With Oakland facing a fourth down on its next possession, safety David Bruton got involved on special teams, deflecting a Shane Lechler punt that traveled just 2 yards to give the Broncos prime field position in the Oakland red zone.
The ensuing Broncos drive belonged to running back Willis McGahee, who gained all 18 of Denver's yards, finding the end zone on second-and-goal from the 2.
"I know (Offensive Coordinator) Mike (McCoy) said, 'Next time we get a shot to get down there, let's give (McGahee and) the line a chance to pound it in,'" Manning recalled. "I thought that was a good plan by Mike kind of leaning on Willis and the O-line, and it was a good job punching it in there."
After the defense forced another three-and-out, it was Lance Ball's turn to find paydirt. On third-and-10 from the 14-yard line, Manning hit the fourth-year running back for a 14-yard touchdown. Ball gave a Mile High Salute as Denver took a 31-6 lead.
Oakland didn't pick up a first down in the second half until two minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Denver defense halted that drive as well, and the Broncos offense marched down the field for a 53-yard Prater field goal -- the last points of the game.
"It was nothing but a good, old-fashioned butt-whooping," Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said.
By the end of the afternoon, the Broncos had scored 27 unanswered points and kept the Raiders out of the end zone.
"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."
Denver had a 300-yard game from a passer -- the NFL-record 65th time Manning accomplished the feat -- a 100-yard game from a rusher -- the 32nd of McGahee's career, which leads all active running backs -- and a 100-yard game from a receiver -- Thomas' second of the season -- for the first time since 2007.
Meanwhile, the defense limited Oakland running back Darren McFadden to just 38 yards from scrimmage, held the Raiders to 237 total yards and allowed just one third-down conversion in the game.
"It just feels good right now," Dreessen said. "Total team effort. Anytime you can win by more than four touchdowns in the NFL, it's a good day."
Even after a satisfying victory, the Broncos know -- as Head Coach John Fox said in the locker room after the game -- that it's just one win.
Four of the team's next five games are on the road, including next week against the 2-2 New England Patriots, fresh off a 52-28 win against the Buffalo Bills.
"When you lose two in a row, everybody talks about how bad we are and you can't believe that," linebacker Keith Brooking said. "And then now, you have a dominating victory at home against a good football team and now everybody is going to talk about how great we are all of a sudden. So, you just have to stay humble and take it for what it's worth and realize that it's a very long season. We have a lot of football ahead of us."