AFC West: 2013 Week 10 Upon Further Review AFC

Upon Further Review: Raiders Week 10

November, 11, 2013
An review of four hot issues from the Oakland Raiders' 24-20 loss to the New York Giants:

A new ground attack? Seemingly lost in the Raiders' listless passing offense was the gritty showing of running back Rashad Jennings, who rushed for 88 yards on 20 carries in place of Darren McFadden (hamstring). Jennings ran hard and hardly went down on first contact. “The offensive line was putting hats on hats and leaving holes for the backs,” Jennings said. “Hats off to them. That's what we expect from the backfield, is for us to run physical.” It's something McFadden, who has now missed two games this season and 15 of Oakland's past 34 games, has not provided much of lately.

[+] EnlargeOakland's Rashad Jennings
AP Photo/Bill KostrounRashad Jennings rushed for 88 yards on 20 carries against the Giants.
Punch it in: As welcome a sight as it was for the Raiders to see themselves employ a successful power running game, it was just as disheartening for them to settle for a field goal after having first-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the third quarter. “There are no excuses for not being able to get in the end zone,” Jennings said, “and that's starting with myself just being the running back out there.” Jennings ran for no gain on first down, then Terrelle Pryor threw an incompletion before Khalif Barnes was called for a false start. “I could hear T.P. say, ‘Hut, hut,' but I've got to move when the ball moves,” Barnes said. Another Pryor incompletion followed and Sebastian Janikowski kicked the field goal to put the Raiders up 20-14. “That's the difference in the game,” Pryor said. “We got three points there and lost by four.”

The book on the Mannings: With his second-quarter 43-yard pick-six on Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Tracy Porter became the only player in league history to return an interception for a touchdown against both Manning brothers. “It's just a coincidence,” said Porter, who picked off Peyton Manning and returned it 74 yards for a score that sealed the New Orleans Saints' Super Bowl XLIV win over the Indianapolis Colts. “It would have been the same if we had won the game [against the Giants]. It's bittersweet.”

Of explosive plays IX: And now for our weekly tracking of “explosive” plays. As deemed by Raiders coach Dennis Allen, such a play is one that gains at least 16 yards through the air or 12 yards on the ground. The Raiders had four such plays against the Giants, one run, and three passes, while New York had five explosive plays, two runs and three passes. In nine games, the Raiders have 64 explosive plays (22 runs, 42 passes), with two TD runs and four passing scores. Oakland's opponents, meanwhile, have 64 explosive plays combined, with 14 runs (one TD) and 50 passes (five TDs).

Upon Further Review: Broncos Week 10

November, 11, 2013
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A review for four hot issues from the Denver Broncos' 28-20 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Hits keep on coming: In each of the last three games, quarterback Peyton Manning has been hit from his blindside by an opposing pass-rusher and fumbled the ball. First, it was the Colts' Robert Mathis, then it was the Redskins' Brian Orakpo and Sunday it was Chargers outside linebacker Tourek Williams, who swiped the ball out. It is a growing concern and obviously opposing defenses see backup left tackle Chris Clark as someone they can take advantage of from time to time. Clark has generally played well since Ryan Clady went to injured reserve, but opposing pass-rushers have forced the issue a little more of late with momentum-changing results.

[+] EnlargeSan Diego's Tourek Williams
AP Photo/Denis PoroyTourek Williams was the latest pass-rusher to force Peyton Manning into fumbling.
Lots of action in play action: Manning has always said he believes play-action, when done by an offense that has enough of a running game to make it work, is one of the most difficult things for a defense to handle. Sunday was certainly proof of that. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manning was 9-of-9 passing with three touchdowns on play-action plays. That total included Manning's 7-yard scoring pass to Demaryius Thomas, when he also moved from the shotgun to under center just before the snap.

Rotation: It's not clear whether it's due to the fact linebacker Von Miller missed six games to open the season with a suspension or Jack Del Rio's desire to use everyone in uniform, but Miller was not in the lineup for several plays on defense Sunday. Miller was not in the nickel package for five consecutive snaps in the second quarter -- he is usually lined up as a defensive end in that look -- and was also not in the nickel and base defense for a selection of snaps in the first quarter.

Ground rules: During two recent games in which Manning has taken plenty of punishment -- the Broncos' loss in Indianapolis and Sunday in San Diego -- the Broncos ran the ball a season-low 20 and 22 times, respectively. Nothing slows down an opposing rush like the running game. Sunday the Broncos ran it just three times in the first half. The Broncos did have just one possession -- a three-play scoring drive -- in the first quarter Sunday, but the Broncos may have to go big and grind it out a little more moving forward, especially if Manning's mobility is limited at all against the Chiefs.
SAN DIEGO -- An examination of four hot issues from the San Diego Chargers' 28-20 loss to the Denver Broncos.

[+] EnlargeJulius Thomas
John Leyba/The Denver PostThe Chargers gave up a 74-yard touchdown to Julius Thomas early in the game.
Tackling still an issue: For a second straight week, San Diego’s defense struggled to stop explosive plays. Denver finished with five passing plays of 18 or more yards, including two for touchdowns. A week earlier, Washington’s offense finished with eight plays of 20 or more yards against San Diego’s defense. The Chargers are struggling to take the proper angle to the ball, and not enough defenders are rallying to the ball. “It’s just tackling,” San Diego middle linebacker Donald Butler said. “You’ve got to tackle -- plain and simple.”

That Peyton Manning guy is pretty good: Manning, the top-rated passer in the league, did not disappoint, finishing 25-of-36 for 330 yards and four touchdown passes. The Chargers managed to get some pressure on Manning, sacking him twice, including a strip sack by Tourek Williams that was recovered by Butler. Manning also suffered a right ankle injury on a hit by Corey Liuget. But Manning still finished with a 135.2 passer rating, and is 3-0 against the Chargers since his arrival in Denver.

On the road again: Losers of two straight for the first time this season, the Chargers hit the road for a two-game stretch that begins in Miami on Sunday, and has the Chargers traveling to Kansas City to face the team’s AFC West rivals in two weeks. San Diego is 2-3 on the road this season. After back-to-back road games, the Chargers finish with four of their last five games at home. Even with the two straight losses, at 4-5 the Chargers are a game behind the New York Jets (5-4) for the final AFC wild-card spot.

Fake punt works: San Diego’s fake punt attempt in the opening quarter worked, but it didn’t create game-changing momentum for the Chargers. At fourth-and-1 from San Diego’s 29-yard line, the Chargers lined up to punt. However, up back Eric Weddle took the snap and plunged down the middle of the line for 2 yards to pick up the first down. Weddle’s effort was wasted when the Chargers had to punt four plays later after failing to pick up a first down. “I had a nice little collision there, but I feel I can get 1 yard over anyone,” Weddle said. “If I can’t, I shouldn’t be in there.”