After leading an unbeaten run in October, Peyton Manning and Von Miller couldn’t help the Denver Broncos overcome their shortcomings in a rare rout to open this month.
Coming off their worst regular-season defeat in Manning’s three seasons, the visiting Broncos look to regroup Sunday with a sixth straight win over an Oakland Raiders team mired in its longest skid in 52 years.
Denver (6-2) appeared to make a statement after running off four straight victories last month by an average of 18.5 points, beating three teams with winning records.
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Manning averaged 330.0 yards during that stretch, well above his 271.3 mark from the first three games, to go along with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also broke the NFL record with his 509th TD pass Oct. 19 against San Francisco.
Miller enjoyed a resurgence on the other side of the ball with seven sacks after recording two in his first three games. The linebacker led a defense that allowed a league-low 258.8 yards per game in October.
The Broncos, however, had that outstanding run come to a humiliating end last Sunday when they lost 43-21 at New England.
Manning passed for 438 yards and two touchdowns, but he completed a season-worst 59.6 percent of his attempts (34 of 57) and threw two interceptions after having three in the first seven games.
The Broncos averaged 37.3 points during the winning streak before putting up their second-lowest total of the season.
”The quarterback stinks, usually you’re not going to win many games,” said Manning, who fell to 32-8 in regular-season starts with Denver. ”I don’t make any excuses.”
Miller also was quiet, finishing with one tackle while his six-game sack streak was snapped.
The Broncos, still one game up on Kansas City in the AFC West, surrendered a season high in points while giving up their most passing yards (332) and total yards (398) since Week 1.
They lost middle linebacker Nate Irving until at least mid-December after he sustained a torn right medical collateral ligament. Steven Johnson is expected to replace Irving in the team’s base defense.
”Shoot, there’s half the season left,” coach John Fox said. ”I mean, we’re only halfway. There’s been a bunch of anointed teams already. That doesn’t mean anything. Truth be told, you’re two weeks away from disaster, and that’s the NFL.”
Perhaps a date with the Raiders (0-8) has come at the right time for the defending AFC champs.
Oakland fell behind by 21 points before making things interesting in the second half of a 30-24 loss at defending Super Bowl champion Seattle last Sunday, assuring the club a 12th straight season without a winning record.
The Raiders are last in rushing at 65.5 yards per game, a mark that would be the league’s lowest since 1946. Darren McFadden, who finished with 20 yards on 13 carries last weekend, totaled 15 on 19 attempts against Denver in 2013.
Since getting routed twice in their first four games, the Raiders have entered the fourth quarter either tied or within one score only to fall short in each of their last four under interim coach Tony Sparano.
Oakland’s losing streak has reached 14, its longest since a 19-game slide between 1961-62.
"This business is about wins," Sparano said. "You’re seeing a lot of young players that are going to be the core of this football team for a long time that are really getting involved and contributing an awful lot.”
Derek Carr bounced back from two first-half interceptions to throw a pair of touchdowns last Sunday. His 11 TDs are tied for the second-most by a rookie after eight games, one shy of Andy Dalton’s record set with Cincinnati in 2011.
Linebacker Khalil Mack has been a bright spot with strong play against the run and 23 quarterback pressures the past four games, but the Raiders have given up 29.2 points per game over their last five.
They’re likely to have their hands full with Denver, which ranks third with 30.6 points per game. Emmanuel Sanders will try to stay on a roll after catching 19 passes for 171 yards and three scores in the last two games.
Manning has connected on 81.3 percent of his attempts for 322.0 yards per game with 11 touchdowns and one interception in four matchups against Oakland since joining the Broncos. Denver has won the last five meetings by an average of 18.8 points.