The Denver Broncos defeated the Oakland Raiders 26-13 to extend their longest winning run in 14 National Football League seasons to eight games.
Joel Dreessen and Knowshon Moreno scored touchdowns for the Broncos at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California, last night. Denver, which has already clinched a second straight American Football Conference West division title, improved to 10-3, while Oakland dropped to 3-10 with a sixth straight defeat.
“It’s a good win,” Denver quarterback Peyton Manning said in a televised interview. “I feel like we’ve made some improvements each week. We’re still looking for that perfect, four-quarter, 60-minute game.”
The Houston Texans lead the AFC with an 11-1 record. The Broncos are next, followed by the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, who each have 9-3 marks. Last night’s victory lifts Denver to 5-0 against AFC West opponents.
The Broncos haven’t won eight consecutive games since beginning 1998 with 13 victories. They went on to win the Super Bowl that season behind quarterback John Elway, who is now the team’s vice president of football operations.
It’s the first time since 2008 the Raiders have lost four straight home games, while they last went winless for six consecutive games in 2007.
Raiders’ coach Dennis Allen, the defensive coordinator in Denver last season, returned to Oakland from the Dallas area on Dec. 5, two days after his father, Grady Allen, died from heart problems. Grady Allen played 59 games over five years for the Atlanta Falcons.
Oakland’s first error came before the game began, when it won the coin toss and elected to defer. The Broncos took full advantage as Manning capped a 10-play, 68-yard opening drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Dreessen.
Denver settled for a 43-yard field goal on its next possession after Manning was sacked on third down for a loss of 11 yards. An interception of Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer led to another field goal for Matt Prater, from 34 yards, at the start of the second quarter.
Oakland running back Darren McFadden, who missed the past four games with an ankle sprain, collected a 6-yard pass from Palmer for a touchdown with two minutes, six minutes remaining in the first half.
On Denver’s next drive, Manning completed his 5,000th career pass. The 36-year-old four-time NFL Most Valuable Player ranks second in league history behind Brett Favre, who found his target 6,300 times.
In the third quarter, Denver had to settle for a field goal after winning a first down on Oakland’s 1-yard line.
Manning got the ball back just over a minute later when Mitch Unrein recovered a fumble by Palmer on Oakland’s 2-yard line. Moreno drove into the end zone two plays later to make it 23-7 to Denver.
After Prater kicked a 33-yard field goal for Denver at the end of the third quarter, Darrius Heyward-Bey collected a 56-yard scoring pass from Palmer for the final score of the game with 5:47 to play.
In addition to his touchdown, Moreno ran for 119 yards on a career-high 32 carries and also had four receptions for 48 yards.
Manning completed 26 of 36 passes for 310 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He’s thrown for 300 yards or more in a league-record 70 games.
Palmer completed 19 of 30 passes for 273 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.