OAKLAND — The Oakland Raiders organization honored their Super Bowl 18 champions at O.co Coliseum on Dec. 29. But it was basically Peyton Manning Day as he and the Denver Broncos routed the inept Raiders 34-14 to end the regular season.
With the victory, Denver (13-3) advances to the playoffs with a bye and the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Raiders (4-12), moves on with another losing record and a lot of questions to answer during the offseason.
“Obviously, it was not our best effort in the first half of the football game today,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said following the game. “We got beat by a better football team. Also, obvisously, that quarterback (Manning) is really good.”
Manning, who set an NFL passing record of 54 touchdowns, threw for 266 yards and four touchdowns for the Broncos all in the first half. The Broncos led 31-0 at halftime and did not need Manning’s service. Brock Osweiler was Denver’s quarterback in the second half.
Manning set an NFL record in passing yardage (5,477) and touchdowns (55). The records were gratifying, though Manning wanted the win more than anything else to lock down some team issues.
“This was a good game today,” Manning said. “I thought we needed this win to improve on some things.”
On their opening drive, the Broncos marched 71 yards to finish on a 3-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker from Manning. Denver followed that score up when Manning found Knowshon Moreno for a 7-yard TD strike after the Raiders coughed up the ball on its own 21-yard line (Denver 14-0).
The Raiders could not move the football, offensively, pass their own 25-yard line in the first quarter. Manning threw his 52nd and 53rd touchdowns by capitalizing on the Raider’s mistakes (one a fumble by Pryor) and inability to get anything going passing or running.
Ahead 17-0 in the middle of the second quarter, Manning got his 54th passing TD of the season on a 63-yard downfield blast to DeMaryius Thomas. Thomas also caught a 5-yard strike from Manning, the 55th, with 13 seconds left in the first half (Denver 31-0). The Raiders’ offense never crossed the their 48-yard line in the first half.
The Denver rested a lot of its first-team players in the second half, including Moreno, Thomas, and Decker. The Raiders didn’t fair much better in the second half against Denver’s reserves. Janikowski missed a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter after the Raiders recovered a blocked kick.
At the 4:24 mark of the fourth quarter, Pryor managed to throw a 14-yard TD to Rod Streater and a 9-yard toss to tight end Nick Kasa with 37 seconds left in the game.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen is coming off back-to-back, four-game victories, but expect to return next season. Pryor, whose future with the Raiders is uncertain, hopes he and Allen return for 2014.
“I think coach Allen has handled himself phenomenally,” Pryor said. “I have a lot of respect for coach Allen and I know my teammates do as well. But it’s really not my call. It’s Mr. (Mark) Davis’ and Reggie (Mckenzie’s).”
By Antonio Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer