Rapid Reaction: Broncos 37, Raiders 21
September, 23, 2013
By Jeff Legwold | ESPN.com
DENVER -- A few thoughts on the Denver Broncos' 37-21 win over the Oakland Raiders:
What it means: The Broncos opened up division play with a rather tidy message to their AFC West brethren. The Broncos showed offensive versatility, playing with both power and speed, to go with a defensive edge despite Von Miller and Champ Bailey missing their third consecutive game. Beating the Broncos on their home field -- at altitude -- looks like a daunting task.
Stock watch: Wide receiver Eric Decker had a tough season opener when he dropped a touchdown as well as another pass that would have been a certain third-down conversion in the win over the Ravens. He had another drop in the win over the Giants in Week 2. Despite those drops, Manning had targeted him more than any other player in the Broncos’ first two games. It all came together for Decker on Monday. He had six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown in the first half finished with eight catches for 133 yards.
Mission impossible: There are NFL defensive coordinators who say defending Manning under any circumstance is a tall order, but give Manning four receivers who can consistently win one-on-one matchups and it's a long night waiting to happen for a defense. Of Manning’s first 21 completions on Monday, six went to Decker, five to Demaryius Thomas, six to Wes Welker and two to Julius Thomas.
Before the third quarter ended, Manning had completed passes to eight different players.
Webster steps up: Throughout training camp and the preseason, Champ Bailey talked about rookie cornerback Kayvon Webster's instincts, confidence and ability to bounce back from the inevitable tough play. And when Tony Carter left the game in the first quarter with a right ankle injury, Webster stepped in and chipped in with two big hits and steady work the rest of the way in the team’s nickel and dime packages.
What’s next: Break out the stopwatches with the pedal-to-the-metal Eagles set to come to Denver on Sunday. Philadelphia, however, may need all of its thrill-packed offense since the Philadelphia defense is 26th in the league in points allowed per game (28.7) and 30th in yards per game allowed (438.3).