Posted September 24, 2013

Manning rolls over Raiders as expected, but Pryor shows potential in loss

AFC West, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Uncategorized
Peyton Manning operated Denver's offense at a rare level... (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Manning operated Denver’s offense at a rare level, even if it was against the hapless Raiders.  (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

This was a blowout before it even started.

The Oakland Raiders proved to be spirited opponents, but they were completely overmatched by the Denver Broncos, who moved to 3-0 on the season, as Peyton Manning became the first quarterback since Michael Vick in 2010 to throw at least 12 touchdown passes before his first interception. Manning has now also thrown more touchdown passes through the first three games of a season than any other quarterback in NFL history, beating Tom Brady’s record in 2011. At the end of the first half, Manning had thrown 21 completions in 24 attempts for 264 yards and three scores, and he finished with 32 completions in 37 attempts in the Broncos’ 37-21 win. It was among Manning’s most surgical performances against an Oakland defense that seemed to know whatever it did would be wrong.

Still, Manning was dissatisfied with the little things that went wrong on his end — clearly, he’s not the guy who was grateful to be back in the game last season after missing the entire 2011 campaign with neck and shoulder injuries. Now, Manning seeks perfection, and he’ll be damned if he doesn’t get it.

“You see flashes of good things; we’re executing and not making mistakes — we can go the distance,” Manning told ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the game. “We can go 80 yards, and we can certainly take advantage of a short field, but you still see some mistakes. We can’t have it. Turnovers … penalties in short-yardage situations … we can’t have it. Those are the things we have to iron out.”

KING: Clady’s replacement must protect Manning, Denver’s Super Bowl hopes

Though Manning is playing as well as he’s ever done, credit must also be given to offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who is lining the Broncos up in more varied formations than his veteran quarterback has ever had at his disposal. For years with the Indianapolis Colts, Manning poured his football genius into a series of checks and audibles at the line in a relatively vanilla series of three-wide, single-back calls. Now, he’s even smarter, and more exacting, and Gase matches that with a dizzying array of formations that has proven impossible to stop when it’s rolling the right way.

“The biggest difference is the pace, the tempo,” Broncos receiver Eric Decker said of his team’s new, expanded playbook. “We can go three tight ends, or three wide receivers. And if you can move the ball with all those formations, it just helps you to be successful.”

Manning is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers, but he’s still looking for more.

“That’s not necessarily true,” he told Salters, when she complimented him on his in-game brilliance, “It still comes down to execution. Oakland’s got good cover corners, and they mix up their coverages well, but our guys did a good job of getting open versus man [coverage] and finding holes in the zones.”

Without question, Decker was the star among Manning’s many targets in this game, catching eight passes for 133 yards and a touchdown, but Demaryius Thomas was right behind him with 10 catches for 94 yards. Wes Welker and Julius Thomas each caught touchdown passes, and when you look at this receiver corps from a distance, it has the chance to be the best Manning’s ever had.

“I thought we did a good job against Oakland, because they disguise [coverages] well,” Decker said. “They play a lot of 2-man coverage, and Peyton will just follow the open guy and put us in situations to do well. “

...but Terrelle Pryor showed a few things despite constant pressure. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

…but Terrelle Pryor showed a few things despite constant pressure. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

As for the Raiders, there were brief glimpses of encouragement — but one of them came at the game’s most important position. Given his first real chance to be a starter in the NFL this season, quarterback Terrelle Pryor impressed more than many would have expected. He finished the game with 19 completions in 28 attempts for 281 yards and a touchdown. He also received a concussion late in the game when he was trying to make too much happen on his own in the red zone, and was whacked by Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard.

Still a work in progress, no doubt, but Pryor did display some of the characteristics of a quarterback with some nascent potential. Always a “great athlete” with all the typecasting that term usually brings, he improved his throwing mechanics in the offseason by working with performance coaches George Whitfield. Steve Clarkson, and Craig Austin, and that was evident at certain times. He used his running ability to make downfield throws when the pocket dissolved, and stood in the pocket to make plays with authority when the Raiders’ patchwork offensive line could actually create functional space for the third-year veteran.

The most impressive play on the Raiders’ side was the 73-yard touchdown pass from Pryor to receiver Denarius Moore with 5:57 left in the second quarter. Moore got in front of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and safety Duke Ihenacho, and beat them both with the ball, running uncontested down the field for the score.

“It was just Terrelle sitting in the pocket and nobody was getting open,” Moore said.  “I saw the safety coming in a little bit out of the corner of my eye, so I broke off my route and turned it up the field. It gave us some confidence that we were still able to move the ball, even with times like that, and coming back play after play and believing in ourselves.”

However, the rough spots were just as evident for Pryor and the offense. Pryor has not yet set his decision-making process to the speed required by the NFL, and  he holds on to the ball too long as a result. It would help if his receivers could separate, but this chicken-or-the-egg question is just one of many that bedevils the Raiders as they continue a complete and total franchise overhaul.

There is no overhaul for the Broncos. They’ve won 14 regular-season games in a row, and Manning’s regular-season stats since he came to the Mile High City before the 2012 season are absolutely ridiculous: 489 completions in 705 attempts for 5,802 yards, 49 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Now, there’s only one thing for Manning and the Broncos to do if they want to complete this story the right way, and that’s to win the first Super Bowl for the franchise since the John Elway era.

Right now, it would be foolish to bet too hard against them.

29 comments
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

The Pryor injury was 100% on the coach.. So many things wrong with that play at that time.  You are in a blow out why set your QB up to get hit,  hand it off to a back or give Pryor a pass play where he has the option to run or throw it away !!! 
 
Running a QB like Pryor works best in the open field where players are NOT confined in small areas like they were inside the 10 yard line. Now the only good player the Raiders have will miss time slowing down his growth. Maybe the coaches have not notice, Pryor only runs when the 0-line breaks down, no one is open or when they are in the read option. That's why the goal line QB run as a first option was so baffling  

Listening to the announcers (too bad i couldn't turn to another channel announcers free and reports / updates would flash on the screen) I thought Manning was the second coming, no one works harder , or no one wants to win more than him.. LOL  am i glad i have a little football acumen, i can actually watch and analyze things on the field..  and here is one Manning was not the best player on the field last night... 0-line and D-line aside, it was Pryor.. believe it or not he had no help anywhere his starting running back rushed for 9 yards and his receivers dropped a few passes that killed drives.. If the raiders defense was competent that game could have been close. Pryor moved the ball on a good Denver defense without any help. Put Manning on the Raiders and Pryor on  Denver and i promise you things would have looked a lot different last night. Maybe an even bigger blowout...

Looking to see what Matt Flynn can do this week against the Skin's porous defense.. They should let Pryor sit out for at least 1 game no point in rushing back he has proven he deserves the job.

Danthefan1022
Danthefan1022

If I was a defensive player for the raiders I would make note of those three idiots playing Rock Paper Scissors and they would be regretting it in the next game. How low class and disrespectful. Morons should be fined by the team. But Fox isn't too classy himself.

GrogChe
GrogChe

Nice BLOW OUT win for Denver.  At least it should stifle the raider fan nonsensical talk for awhile--time to cue up KC.  A few KC fans getting ahead of themselves just after 3 games.

prvsa
prvsa

I can't figure out why the NFL selects QBs who have the instinct to run.  If they draft these guys, they should cut their hamstrings! You get the idea, make them not want to run. No running QB has won the super bowl. All running QBs miss a lot of games. They can have a good year or two, but then the defenses have them figured out. Make the peanut head run into our arms! Pryor looked pretty good passing, but then he felt the urge.

6marK6
6marK6

Can someone please explain to me in this day and age why Oakland still manages to make prime time games? They suck. They have sucked for a long time. Schedule something that is a contest. But we get to see the regular season King Peyton Manning carve up the Raiders, great. Yeah yeah, Denver is unbeatable, just like last year. 

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

Well then. THAT was embarrassing. Not just for the Raiders ineptitude, or Chuckie's man-love for Peyton (like ALL announcers gush), but for the scheduling weasels in the NFL. 

They should probably reconsider the flex schedule to cover some of these early season blow-outs. 

We were watching South Park & Family Guy re-runs by the end of the 1st quarter...

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

they make it look so easy Like the announcer  said what is the Philly d going to prepare for ? broncos show you so many different looks and packages you cant cover all of em

ElizbetSwell
ElizbetSwell

 <!-- like Clifford implied I'm amazed that any one able to profit $9272 in four weeks on the computer. like it ................................. buzz55.ℂℴm…..♣♣ ♣♣ ♣♣

-->

timothytribbett
timothytribbett

Raiders were never in this game. The only time I got nervous for a second was when Raiders made it 14-30. This was a classic example of the game never being as close as the final score. Bottom line go suck it raiders.

picklejuice
picklejuice

I wouldn't call a 2 score victory a blowout. It was a win, but not a blowout. 8 of 14 of the games on Sunday were won by more than 16 points. Now some of those were blowouts.

carnage_2012
carnage_2012

Isn't Doug Fararararrraar that idiot from Yahoo?

Danthefan1022
Danthefan1022

I'm a Patriots fan and I can pretty much guarantee that if a Pats player s did that bell hick would punish them for it. But I guess low class poor sportsmanship is okay with A 12 yr old like you and Denver's cry baby coach.

Craig9
Craig9

@prvsa John Elway and Steve Young sure ran a lot. I believe they have 3 Super Bowl rings between them.

MickHayes
MickHayes

@picklejuice Broncos ran the ball most of the 4th quarter and your "2 scores" would need to be 2 touchdowns both with 2 point conversions and all that would just be to tie the score.

sarteestmd
sarteestmd

@picklejuice First of all, it was a 3 score victory. You can't count two touchdowns and 2 point extra points as a 2 score lead. Second, the last Raiders TD was in trash time. Third, Manning & Co. spent the 4th quarter working on their running game, as if the 4th quarter was a scrimmage.

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

It was a blowout.  Oakland was never even in the game in the 2nd half.  The only reason the score wasn't worse for Oakland was the sack-strip on Manning at the Raider 13.  (and that wasn't on Manning)

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@MickHayes @picklejuice And they would have scored twice more if not for a Montee Ball fumble and a Peyton sack fumble, both in or near the red zone. Raiders got their last TD on one of 'em...

stevejomacdonald
stevejomacdonald

@sarteestmd @picklejuice  

Actually a 16 point lead can only be looked at as a 2 score game. You have never seen a team get more than 1 2-pt convert in a game? 8+8=16 so no matter how ignorant you try to be the math tells you it must be only a 2 score game.

sarteestmd
sarteestmd

In fact, Eric Menhart in 2007 did a mathematical model of the 2-point conversion, and given its success rate less than 50% when trailing in a football game in the 4th quarter, a 2-point conversion is definitely a "score" distinguished from the preceding touchdown "score".

sarteestmd
sarteestmd

@stevejomacdonald @sarteestmd @picklejuice Yes I can do the math. A PAT is a given. Two PATs are a given. But, two touch downs and two 2-point conversions is not a given and is not a 2 score lead because 2-point conversion are considered a score, not a PAT. So technically, it is 4 scores. And reducing your comments to insulting people speaks volumes of yourself.