ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Playing for pride and a winning season, the Broncos roared out of the blocks with their best first half of the season and cruised to a 24-6 win that allowed them to finish with their fifth consecutive winning campaign at 9-7.
After being plagued by slow starts all season -- most recently a 21-7 first-quarter deficit in last week's loss to Oakland -- the Broncos stormed downfield on their opening series to a touchdown via an 8-play, 84-yard match.
The Broncos never trailed,was Oakland's first five possessions ended in punts, with a meager average of just eight net yards per series in the first half. Meanwhile, the Broncos used a balanced offense -- fueled by Justin Forsett's 64-yard sprint -- to march to three touchdowns, with a third-quarter Virgil Green score pushing the Broncos' margin to 24-0 and effectively putting the game out of reach.
A look back at how the three keys to the game affected the outcome:
1. SUSTAIN DRIVES
With an 84-yard game-opening march to an 11-yard Devontae Booker touchdown run, the Broncos started the afternoon with their longest drive since November.
Denver had four drives that covered at least 58 yards Sunday, accounting for all 24 of its points. The Broncos racked up a 10-minute, 50-second advantage in time of possession and ran 17 more plays than the Raiders.
2. CONTAIN THE RUN
The Broncos set the tone for their work against Oakland's ground game on the Raiders' first snap. Denver used a five-linebacker, one-cornerback alignment and crowded 10 players into the box to counter the Raiders' expeced ground emphasis.
Oakland was unable to generate anything close to the type of ground attack it had in Week 9, when the Raiders slashed through the Broncos for 218 rushing yards. Sunday, the Broncos held Oakland to just 59 yards on 16 carries. Just two of Oakland's 16 rushes moved the chains.
Along with the Broncos' series of long drives, the struggling ground game forced Oakland to the air, where quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Connor Cook combined for 171 yards on 20-of-32 passing with an interception.
3. GET OUT HEALTHY
Both of Denver's 1,000-yard wide receivers left with injuries. Emmanuel Sanders departed after suffering a foot injury on the initial series of the game, while Demaryius Thomas was sidelined with a foot injury in the second half. Neither of their injuries is considered serious.
Inside linebacker Zaire Anderson sustained the scariest injury while covering a third-quarter punt. Anderson collided with fellow linebacker Quentin Gause, and remained on the field for several minutes while being treated by Broncos medical personnel.
Anderson was taken to a local hospital and had movement in both arms and legs.