Manning leads Broncos past Raiders 26-13

Going on the road in a short week is a tough task for any NFL

team.

Now the Denver Broncos get the reward for beating the division

rival Oakland Raiders – three extra days of rest before their most

important game remaining in the regular season.

Peyton Manning threw for 310 yards and had his 30th touchdown

pass of the season on the game’s opening drive to help the Broncos

roll to their eighth straight victory, 26-13 over the Raiders on

Thursday night.

”These Thursday night games are tough, especially late in the

year,” Manning said. ”I know I’m tired.”

Knowshon Moreno ran for 119 yards and a score on a career-high

32 carries, and Matt Prater kicked four field goals to help the

Broncos (10-3) move a half-game ahead of New England and Baltimore

for the second-best record in the AFC.

Denver now gets the extra rest before visiting the Ravens next

week in a game that will help decide who gets a first-round playoff

bye.

”It means a lot,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. ”We’re

probably going to need it. The more preparation you could have for

a team like that, the better.”

Carson Palmer threw one interception that thwarted a possible

scoring chance for the Raiders (3-10) and lost a fumble that set up

a touchdown for the Broncos as Oakland lost its sixth straight

game. It is the team’s longest skid since also losing six in a row

in 2007.

The Raiders played the game with heavy hearts as coach Dennis

Allen’s father, Grady, died earlier in the week from cardiac

arrest. Allen was away from the team for two days but returned

Wednesday and coached the game.

”I took my father off life support (voice cracking), and that’s

not easy to do,” Allen said. ”So was it hard? Yeah, it was hard.

But I know my father would want me to be here with this football

team, and I wanted to be here with this football team. So I’m sure

you guys can imagine it wasn’t an easy situation.”

The Raiders’ players talked during the week about rallying

around their first-year coach, but came out flat against a fierce

division rival and were swept in the season series by the Broncos

for the first time since 2006.

The game was mildly competitive for only a brief time as the

Raiders got on the board late in the first half on a touchdown pass

from Palmer to Darren McFadden and then started with the ball in

the third quarter trailing 13-7.

McFadden, returning from a four-game absence for a sprained

right ankle, broke off a 36-yard run on the first play from

scrimmage, but the Raiders’ drive stalled in Denver territory after

that and the Broncos took the game over. McFadden later left the

game after re-injuring the ankle.

Manning, who joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks in NFL

history with 5,000 career completions, converted a third-and-11

with a perfectly placed 22-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas. Manning

followed that with a 29-yard completion to Eric Decker, but the

drive stalled after a pass-interference call on Matt Giordano gave

the Broncos a first down at the 1. Matt Prater’s 20-yard field goal

made it 16-7.

Mike Goodson then made the ill-advised decision to return a kick

from 8 yards deep in the end zone, forcing Oakland to start a drive

at their 8. Von Miller then beat Khalif Barnes for a sack on third

down, stripping the ball from Palmer. Mitch Unrein recovered at the

2 and Moreno scored two plays later to make it 23-7.

Moreno is filling in for the injured Willis McGahee and is

giving the Broncos the running game they will need to be successful

in the postseason.

”You always have to have your mind ready to carry it as many

times as they need,” Moreno said. ”That’s what we needed. It felt

good. It felt good for this offense, you know all the hard work

that we do put in.”

Prater added another field goal later in the third quarter and

Manning went on to his record 12th season with 10 wins as a

starting quarterback.

The only remaining drama was whether quarterback project

Terrelle Pryor would get his first action of the season for

Oakland. He didn’t, giving the frustrated Raiders fans yet another

reason to be upset even though Palmer added a 56-yard TD pass to

Darrius Heyward-Bey and finished with 273 yards passing.

”To rack up this many losses in a row in the fashion that we’ve

done is just extremely frustrating,” Palmer said.

After the game police said a man fell from the upper deck at the

stadium shortly before kickoff and was in serious condition at a

hospital. Initial reports called the fall an accident, but police

said it remained under investigation. The team had no comment.

NOTES: Raiders CB Michael Huff left in the first half with a

wrist injury. … Manning needed 221 games to reach 5,000

completions, 18 fewer than Favre. … Miller has sacks in six

straight games. … Oakland rookie WR Rod Streater had four catches

for a career-high 100 yards.

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