- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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An examination of four hot issues from the Raiders’ 37-21 loss to the Broncos:
Not helping themselves: The Raiders knew they had to get off to a quick start and minimize their mistakes against Denver, in general, and quarterback Peyton Manning, in particular. No dice. Not when Oakland had a season-high 77 yards in penalties, and when Manning completed 32 of 37 passes for 374 yards. “Playing a team like the Broncos, you don’t really have any room for error,” Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. “Playing against Jacksonville, you have some room for things and you can make up for it. But with [Manning], you can’t. He’s going to find whatever weakness you have out there. If you’re not fundamentally sound, he’s going to find it [and] he’s going to exploit it. He did it tonight.”
Where’s the pass rush?: With Manning working with a surgeon’s precision, no wonder the previously blitz-happy Raiders could not get to him. Oakland entered the game with nine sacks but was able to get Manning only once, though it was a violent blindside hit by defensive end Lamarr Houston that resulted in a fumble, the type of hit you rarely see Manning endure. “He has his protection set a certain way and when he drops to five yards he stays right in the middle of the pocket where he’s comfortable and wants to throw the ball,” Houston said. “So it’s kind of hard to get to a quarterback dropping five yards, and not seven or nine.”
Polish Cannon under wraps?: If ever there was a time to attempt a record field goal, this was it. Five seconds remaining in the half, the Raiders at the 50-yard line facing the closed end of a stadium in which Sebastian Janikowski made a 63-yarder two years earlier. Alas, coach Dennis Allen went conservative, and Terrelle Pryor, who would later suffer a concussion, was sacked. “I thought we had a better chance of being able to get a Hail Mary pass,” Allen said, “rather than trying to attempt a 67- or 68-yard field goal.” Not sure everyone else in the organization agrees, though.
Of explosive plays III: And now for our weekly tracking of “explosive” plays -- as deemed by Allen, such a play is one that gains at least 16 yards through the air, 12 yards on the ground. The Raiders had nine such plays against the Broncos, one run and eight passes, while Denver had eight explosive plays, three runs and five passes. In three games, the Raiders have 26 explosive plays (10 runs, 16 passes), with two passes for touchdowns, both in Denver. Oakland’s opponents, meanwhile, have 23 explosive plays combined, six runs and 17 passes with a touchdown each way.