|Broncos running back Willis McGahee had a big day in Denver's rout of the Raiders on Sunday, gaining 112 yards on 19 carries for a 5.9-yard average. (AP)|
The offense knew it had to stake the Broncos to an early lead to put pressure on the Raiders' offense and keep Oakland away from the running game. The defense flooded the box with defenders and threw myriad looks at Oakland, including multiple snaps where none of the linemen went into a down position to confuse Oakland's offensive linemen.
It all worked out perfectly for the Broncos (2-2), who had been gashed by McFadden for 127 yards per game and 7.3 yards per carry in their last four duels with him. This time, they held him to 34 yards and 2.6 yards per carry en route to a 37-6 romp that snapped Denver's four-game home skid to the Raiders (1-3).
"He was the point of emphasis," Broncos LB Keith Brooking said. "He got the edge of our defense a couple of times. We rallied around him and made it for minimal gain, and that was the key for us, playing responsibility defense, being in your gap, controlling your gap and making the play on him and not allowing him to have those explosive runs."
On offense, Denver held the ball for 37:25 and mounted four scoring drives of at least 63 yards -- all of which came in the no-huddle -- and never punted. Defensively, the Broncos took McFadden out of the game and forced Oakland to pass, where a receiving corps crippled by the absence of WR Darrius Heyward-Bey provided little threat against Broncos CBs Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter.
The margin of victory could have been greater had Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas not fumbled while changing the ball from one hand to the other on a 40-yard gain.
"It was nothing more than an old-fashioned butt-whupping," Raiders QB Carson Palmer said.
Highlight moments: Unlike previous home games, the Broncos opened up in the no-huddle and seized the lead for good on their first series, marching 80 yards to a 21-yard Peyton Manning-to-Joel Dreessen touchdown that beat double coverage.
"Just a little play-action, a little seam route," Dreessen said. "Peyton threw it up there and gave me a chance, and I was able to come down with it."
Broncos rookie RB Ronnie Hillman had the best game of his brief career, spelling Willis McGahee by picking up 63 yards from scrimmage on 10 rushes and two receptions. His longest play of the game came on a 29-yard catch-and-run that saw him weave through Oakland's defense.
"I turned around and I was talking to somebody, and I looked back, and Ronnie's running down the field," said RB Willis McGahee. "He's here to make plays, and that's what he's doing."
• Manning: 30 of 38, 338 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, 130.0 rating.
• Broncos RB Willis McGahee: 112 yards on 19 carries, 5.9 yards per carry, 1 touchdown.
• Broncos defense: held Oakland to 1 of 12 on third-down conversions.
• Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil: 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, one forced fumble.
What they said about the Broncos' flubbed fake-field-goal attempt late in the second quarter, when Matt Prater misfired deep for 305-pound guard Zane Beadles:
Fox: "We got the look we were looking for, and obviously it wasn't very well executed. It was really supposed to be designed more as a run than a pass."
Manning, dripping with sarcasm: "Maybe give Manning-Stokley a chance before Prater-Beadles. It's one of the all-time great combinations: Kelly-Reed, Montana-Rice, Prater-Beadles."
Numbers you should know: In the third quarter, the Broncos had as many first downs (11) as the Raiders had total yards. Denver averaged 7.5 yards per play to Oakland's 0.9 during those 15 minutes, outscoring them 21-0 to turn a tight game into a rout.
Injury update: Broncos C J.D. Walton suffered an left ankle injury that is apparently severe. Broncos coach John Fox declined to elaborate on the injury, but reports circulated that he fractured his ankle when Raiders DE Jack Crawford unintentionally rolled up on it; that would end Walton's season. Ex-Patriots C Dan Koppen replaced him, and that could turn into the wisest in-season pickup in recent Broncos history; they signed the long-time New England starter on Sep. 11 to provide depth, but now he'll anchor the line for the foreseeable future.
Going forward: This was the valley in the Broncos' Himalayan opening six weeks; a two-game road swing to New England and San Diego will test the Broncos' resolve -- and their capacity for long flights. If the Broncos emerge with a split, they should be in good shape when they return after their Week 7 bye. The Broncos' first six opponents are a combined 15-8; their last 10 are a collective 14-26. The Raiders get a bye before a trip to undefeated Atlanta, which doesn't stand to be any better than their last two road trips -- when they lost to Denver and Miami by a combined 72-19 margin.
Follow Raiders reporter Eric Gilmore on Twitter @CBSRaiders.