It was, by all accounts orange and blue, a good time had by all.
The Broncos brought the hammer down on the Raiders, 23-3, Sunday afternoon in Oakland. What little there was of the Silver and Black before the blowout, undoubtedly nothing remained after. It was a team effort of terrific proportions.
“We talked all week about needing to play well in three phases in order to beat this team at home,” Broncos’ head coach Josh McDaniels told 850 KOA after the game. “We got a great effort by our kicking units, did a nice job defensively stopping the run (and) creating some turnovers and offensively dominated the time of possession.”
I’ll dispense of the obligatory “it was just the Raiders” preface and get right to the point: The Broncos have played pretty well to this point in the season.
That trend continued Sunday as they ran their record to 3-0. All the Broncos can do is beat the team that is on the schedule that week. They not only did that, but I thought continued to show improvement, even though it is tough to get a true measure of just how much improvement given the opposition was the Raiders.
Still, the Broncos showed me a few things that suggest they are becoming a team.
1 – They seem to have the makings of what could be a great defense. Against Oakland, the Broncos allowed three points, gave up only 137 yards of total offense and 42 net yards passing, forced three turnovers and collected three sacks. They certainly come close to numbers like that in either meeting against the Raiders a year ago.
I realize that the Broncos’ have faced Cleveland and Oakland, two teams with offenses that hardly have a pulse. But they still went out and crushed them. They got the job done.
Cincinnati’s offense seems to be better than what it showed in the season opener against the Broncos. I don’t know how good the Bengals are, but I know the Broncos held them to seven points and controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game.
“Any time you don’t let them score more than six or seven points in a game, you have a great opportunity to win it,” McDaniels told 850 KOA on Sunday. “We know that will be tough to keep that pace up. We play a lot of good football teams coming up. But we feel we have a good defense. Those guys believe in each other and believe in what we’re doing.”
I believe, too.
2 – The Broncos’ running game can be downright scary. Correll Buckhalter rushed for 108 yards against Oakland and Knowshon Moreno added another 90 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos racked up 215 rushing yards and through three games are averaging nearly 160 yards rushing per game.
Assuming they stay healthy, Buckhalter and Moreno are going to be a great one-two punch. They are both talented but also different types of runners. And there is nothing like having at least two guys to whom you can turn every game.
“It allows us to stay fresh,” Buckhalter told 850 KOA. “We have no complaints. Whoever is in there, me, Knowshon or LaMont (Jordan), we’re going to get the job done.”
So far they have. If they continue to do so at this pace, the Broncos will win plenty.
3 – The special teams are making a difference. The Broncos kickoff return unit is allowing an average of 21.8 yards per return with a long return of 31 yards. The punt coverage team is giving up an average of 10.0 yards per return with a long of 17 yards.
No longer are we seeing the Broncos get gashed on special teams. They are more than holding their own, thus forcing teams to face a longer field.
So far, the Broncos are off to a good start.
In fact, as a team, they are off to a really good start. Now the schedule starts to get interesting. The Broncos will host the Cowboys and the Patriots the next two weeks, and then they’ll go to San Diego before getting a bye at the end of October.
It will be fun to find out how good the Broncos really are.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your thoughts about the win over the Raiders.