AFC West: 2013 Week 3 Rapid Reaction
September, 23, 2013
By Paul Gutierrez | ESPN.com
DENVER – A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 37-21 loss to the Denver Broncos:
What it means: Under the brightest lights a regular-season game can provide, the Raiders showed they are not yet ready for prime time. Not when Peyton Manning is at his peak. Manning carved the Raiders up Monday, at one time completing 15 consecutive passes en route to throwing for 374 yards on 32-of-37 passing with three touchdowns. The defense was simply worn down, and the offense did not come to life until it was too late. And Terrelle Pryor took a nasty blow on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Wesley Woodyard late in the fourth quarter. Though Pryor stayed in the game for another play, he left for the locker room and was replaced by Matt Flynn.
Stock watch: Falling -- Darren McFadden. A week after rushing for 129 yards on 19 carries, McFadden was stopped time and again by the Broncos, who stuffed the box and dared the Raiders to beat them with the pass. Through three quarters, McFadden had just 8 yards on 10 carries; he finished with 9 yards on 12 attempts. He finished with more yards passing.
Why not try the FG?: Sebastian Janikowski kicked a record-tying 63-yard field goal in the Mile High air here two years ago, so what about 15 more feet into the closed end of the stadium to close the first half? Instead, coach Dennis Allen had Pryor drop back for a Hail Mary and the play, and half, ended with a dispiriting sack.
Trickery: No, McFadden could not get it going on the ground. So he went to the air. Taking a pitch from Pryor, McFadden rolled to the right, stepped up and fired a perfect spiral to fullback Marcel Reece for a 16-yard touchdown pass that got the Raiders (1-2) within 30-14 late in the third quarter. It was the eighth TD pass by a Raiders running back, along with Marcus Allen (4), Harvey Williams (2) and Tony Teresa (1), the first since Williams in 1996.
What's next: The Raiders (1-2) host Washington on a short work week. Washington is 0-3 for the first time since 2001. The teams have traded victories in their past four meetings, Oakland winning in 1995 and 2005, Washington winning in 1998 and 2009.
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).
September, 22, 2013
By Eric D. Williams | ESPN.com
A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers' 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
What it means: The Chargers had not lost to the Titans since the franchise was in Houston and known as the Oilers in 1992 (nine straight games). San Diego lets another game slip away in the final moments and falls to 1-2.
Defense can’t stop Locker: Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker went 7-of-10 for 94 yards on the game-winning drive, including a 34-yard touchdown strike to rookie receiver Justin Hunter with 15 seconds left. San Diego could have effectively ended the game four plays earlier, but defensive back Marcus Gilchrist couldn’t hold onto an interception on a tipped ball off the hands of Titans tight end Delanie Walker. Locker finished 23-of-37 for 299 passing yards.
Stock watch: Rising -- Philip Rivers continues to show a rebirth under new Chargers coach Mike McCoy. Rivers completed 20 of 24 passes for 184 yards with a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Antonio Gates. Rivers now has eight touchdown passes and just one interception on the year. Rivers did cost his team field position with a personal foul penalty for arguing an offensive pass interference call in the first half that negated an Eddie Royal touchdown pass in the first half. The Chargers had to settle for a Nick Novak 44-yard field goal on the drive.
Reserves step up: Michael Harris started in place of rookie D.J. Fluker (concussion) at right tackle and looked solid in pass protection, not giving up a sack. Harris also made a key block on Ronnie Brown's 1-yard touchdown run that put San Diego ahead in the second half, 17-10. Reggie Walker was a late replacement at inside linebacker in place of Donald Butler (groin), and notched a sack in the first half.
Titans run wild: Tennessee owned the line of scrimmage offensively, finishing with 170 rushing yards. Chris Johnson rushed 19 times for 90 yards. And Locker finished with 68 rushing yards.
What’s next: The Chargers return home to face the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.
September, 19, 2013
By Adam Teicher | ESPN.com
PHILADELPHIA -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs' 26-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night:
What it means: The Chiefs are 3-0 for the first time since 2010, and they are, for the time being, all alone in first place in the AFC West for the first time since they won the division that same season. (Denver would move back into a first-place tie by winning on Sunday.)
Stock watch: Linebacker Justin Houston had 4.5 sacks, topping the three he had in the season-opening win in Jacksonville. He leads the league in sacks with 7.5. Jamaal Charles overcame a slow start to rush for 92 yards and a touchdown. Rookie tackle Eric Fisher had another lousy game; the Eagles frequently took advantage of him in their pass rush. Actually, it wasn't a strong night for the offensive line as a whole. The other tackle, Branden Albert, was penalized twice for lining up in the backfield instead of on the line of scrimmage.
Avery’s big night: It wasn't quite a career game for wide receiver Donnie Avery, but he carried the Chiefs’ passing game. Avery had seven catches for 141 yards, dwarfing the contributions of any other receiver. Charles had also seven catches, but those produced just 80 yards. Avery's career bests are nine catches and 163 yards.
Turnover party: For the third straight game, the Chiefs didn't commit a turnover. On the other hand, they took the ball away from the Eagles five times. But they scored only 13 points off those takeaways. Safety Eric Berry scored a touchdown on a 38-yard interception return, but otherwise the Chiefs managed just two field goals. The Chiefs entered the game having scored a touchdown on each of their five trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line this season; they were just 1-for-6 Thursday night.
What’s next: The Chiefs are off until Sept. 29, when they return to game action against the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium. With a victory, the Chiefs would be 4-0 for the first time since 2003.