Week 10 Game Recap: Denver Broncos 31, Oakland Raiders 17
What you need to know
QB Jake Plummer broke John Elwayís team record for most consecutive passes without an interception (191) and padded that total during the contest. Difficult as it is to believe, Plummer simply doesnít make costly mistakes anymore. He can make plays when called upon, but aside from a near interception, he really didnít do anything negative in the game.
The rushing load was split fairly evenly, with Mike Anderson taking sixteen carries and Tatum Bell receiving fourteen. Neither player dominated statistically, though Bell did have a potentially costly fourth quarter fumble. Denver only had one possession following the Bell fumble. And, for what itís worth, Anderson was the ball carrier on the possession.
The Broncos defense has generally been regarded as a solid unit, yet one that isnít necessarily fantasy-friendly. Sunday, Denver sacked Kerry Collins four times and recorded three key interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown) for an outstanding fantasy performance.
LT Matt Lepsis left the game early on. It probably wasnít just a coincidence that Denver struggled to run the football after Lepsis exited. No update was given on his condition during the telecast.
QB Kerry Collins was hit with some hard luck early on in the game, and his day became progressively worse from there. He looked awful, particularly in the second half. Once the game got out of hand, however, he picked up some huge garbage time points to salvage a respectable fantasy day.
WR Randy Moss was very limited early on, and didnít catch his first pass until late in the second quarter. He broke out, so to speak, in the second half, and finished with a very good game including a highlight reel touchdown reception. Still, he looked limited at times and tentative in his cuts and moves.
RB Lamont Jordan had an important game without lighting up the stat sheet. Despite Oakland trailing basically from the outset, Jordanís role in the offensive gameplan never wavered. Rather than carrying the ball, he caught it. His seven receptions led all players.
What you ought to know
|QB Jake Plummer, Pass: 16 - 22 - 205 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 7 - 0|
It is fast becoming the most overused clichť in all of football, but it must be said that Jake Plummer did a good job of managing the offense. He didnít make many glaring mistakes, and the few times he was asked to make a big play, he came through. His touchdown pass to Rod Smith was a perfect ball, which seemed to be the case with most of Plummerís attempts. There will be weeks (such as this one) where he doesnít light up the stat sheet, but Plummer is quickly becoming one of the safer choices amongst fantasy QBs to put up a solid point total on a consistent basis. Plummer lost two yards rushing on a play where Oakland was called for offsides and Denver accepted the penalty rather than the play.
|RB Tatum Bell, Rush: 16 - 44 - 0, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)|
While Bell didnít post the gaudy numbers many of his owners had hoped for, there were several promising signs from this game. Bell got the majority of the early carries in the game, and once again was in for just about every third down situation. Not only that, he converted twice on rushes in third and short situations. And he even came close to scoring when he was tackled inside the five yard line on a screen pass. All of the good was slightly marred, however, with a costly fumble late in the game. Bell had just about received the handoff from Jake Plummer when he was met by a surging Derrick Burgess in the backfield. The fumble likely wasnít Bellís fault, and most NFL running backs this side of Curtis Martin would have likely fumbled as well. Still, with Bellís history, itís important to keep note of things such as this because Mike Shanahan has historically had a very low tolerance for fumblers.
Anderson took his first carry of the game 23 yards, and had 30 yards after his first three touches. He closed the game with just 35 more yards on his remaining fourteen touches. He wasnít given an opportunity to run wild on Oakland, who really did a solid job of stifling the Denver rushing attack. Anderson salvaged a serviceable fantasy performance with a short rushing touchdown in the third quarter. He was given a carry from the three yard line but was taken down at the one. Following an incomplete pass, Anderson was again given the ball on third down and responded with a TD plunge. Later in the game, following a fourth quarter fumble courtesy of Tatum Bell, the Broncos got the ball back with a chance to run out the clock. Perhaps importantly, perhaps not, Anderson was the ball carrier on the final drive.
Eight of Smithís eleven targets came prior to halftime as Denver was trying to build its lead. Once that lead was firmly established, they took to the ground with more frequency. Smith fumbled late in the fourth quarter, but with a veteran player like Smith, a rare occurrence like that isnít likely to affect future touches. Smithís 27 yard touchdown reception set the all-time Denver record for most touchdowns in club history.
Lelie wasnít heavily involved, but he did what he could with his targets. He made a fantastic leaping catch on one reception, and was shaken up on the play. He soon returned, though, and was fine the rest of the game. On another reception, he displayed excellent hands in reaching down and behind him to haul in a pass. He also nearly scored in the third quarter down near the end zone, but was unable to stay inbounds on the play. It would have been physically impossible to make the reception inbounds though, so itís not as if he did anything wrong.
Putzierís role is significantly reduced due to the presence of Stephen Alexander, but every once in awhile heíll turn in a decent performance. Sunday, in addition to his three receptions, he also caught the two point conversion from Jake Plummer. Putzier had a chance to score, but was tackled at the five yard line following a reception.
Alexanderís role in the offense is as an occasional outlet in the red zone and usually not much else.
Elam scored the 1,500th point of his Denver career, nailing down field goals from 22, 38, and 25 yards out. After opening the season just 11-17 on his FG attempts, perhaps this game will begin to settle Elam down.
Denver was never really tested in this phase because Oakland only ran the ball a total of seventeen times. When the Raiders did run it, they were mostly ineffective, however.
Denver caught a break early on when a miscommunication between Kerry Collins and his wide receiver resulted in an easy interception for Champ Bailey. The Broncos other two picks were created by good defensive play. Darrent Williams returned the last pick for an 80 yard touchdown. The defensive backs did a terrific job on both Randy Moss and Jerry Porter for the better part of the game. Once the Broncos made it a 31-10 game, the defense eased up and allowed Oakland some garbage time yardage and points. Additionally, the defensive pressure up front finally relented after putting Kerry Collins through a workout for much of the afternoon. It seemed as if Collins never had quite enough time to make his passes at any point in the game until garbage time, thatís how good the Denver defensive front was.
On the whole, Collins had a tough game. It started out with some poor luck, as both Randal Williams and Jerry Porter dropped sure first down receptions. Porterís, in fact, could have gone for a long touchdown but it simply bounced off the receiverís hands. The first interception looked like a communication error, as the pass was thrown well behind Porter as Collins seemingly expected him to be somewhere other than where he ended up. On another early pass, Collins did the impossible Ė he overthrew WR Randy Moss on a play where Moss actually had a step on the defender. Aside from the tough early breaks, Collinsí day went downhill fast. Denverís defensive pressure was increasingly effective, forcing Collins into some poor throws. The second interception was a terrible pass, well over the head of Randy Moss. Following that pick, Collins made a number of awful passes and seemed completely lost. He even reverted to one of his worst habits, throwing off his back foot continuously. This was mostly because he simply didnít have any time to set his feet to pass. The few times he did have ample time, he got overzealous and launched balls well over the heads of his intended target. Collins was almost intercepted by Champ Bailey for a second time early in the fourth quarter. Finally, Collinsí third interception pretty much nailed down the win for Denver. Collins was attempting an out route to Jerry Porter, but Darrent Williams jumped the route beautifully and returned the pick 80 yards for a touchdown. That pretty much sealed the victory for Denver at 31-10, but ironically enabled Collins to save his game for fantasy owners. Because the lead was at 21 points, Denver relaxed its coverage and called off the dogs in the pass rush. This gave Collins lots of time and open receivers to throw to, resulting in an eventual garbage time touchdown pass to WR Doug Gabriel. That final drive moved Collins from a poor fantasy game to a pretty decent one (or very good if your league doesnít penalize for interceptions). Some may say that you canít always rely on garbage time, but with the way the Raiders defense normally plays, itís a pretty good bet that Collins will be passing the ball late in the game.
The Raiders (and Jordan owners) got a bit of a scare when the RB was tackled awkwardly during a second quarter run. Jordan lay on the ground for several moments and appeared to be in a good deal of pain. Fortunately, after having his ankle taped up, he returned to the game and seemed fine running the ball Ė even gaining ten yards on his first carry after the injury. Jordanís role in the offense did not diminish when the team fell behind Ė a good sign for Jordan owners that heíll get his points even when the running game is abandoned. Jordan was targeted in the passing game seven times in the second half, and led all players in the game with seven receptions total.
Moss didnít record his first reception of the game until 3:32 remained in the first half. His second reception did not come until midway through the third quarter. He just didnít look ďrightĒ. He was overthrown on a deep ball on his first target of the game. Itís fairly difficult to overthrow a healthy Randy Moss, and he looked tentative trying to stop himself following the sprint downfield. He looked hesitant coming out of his breaks, and generally resembled nothing of the player weíre used to seeing. Just when you think itís another lost week for Moss, though, he hauls in a beautiful touchdown pass from Kerry Collins. He didnít have possession initially, but maintained concentration and displayed tremendous ability in holding onto the football despite being dragged to the ground. From there, Mossí production increased exponentially. He became more involved as the game went on, and had another potential touchdown go off his fingertips on the end zone sideline (though it would have been an incredible catch had he managed to stay inbounds). Nine of Mossí eleven targets came in the second half, giving owners a glimmer of hope for his potential the rest of the year. Moss was visibly angry following the game, and seemed genuinely disturbed by the loss.
Ten of Gabrielís twelve targets came in the second half, with the vast majority of those passes heading his way in garbage time. The Broncosí pass defense softened up once they emerged with a 21 point lead, and Gabriel was one of the main beneficiaries. His touchdown reception was a marvelous grab, as Gabriel slipped on the play and maintained his focus enough to snag the ball out of mid-air as he was falling. Games like this for him are few and far between, but heís worth keeping around as insurance for one of the starters.
Porterís day began very inauspiciously, with a drop of a possible touchdown on the Raidersí opening drive. It didnít get much better, as he was the intended target for two of Kerry Collinsí three interceptions. He also fell down on another potential reception, before almost completely disappearing in the second half (just three targets after halftime).
Anderson caught just one of the four passes intended for him, and his role was mostly non-existent.
Janikowski missed from 45 yards out in the first half, but later connected with ease from 40 yards away. The missed FG came one play after Kerry Collins had taken a sack, pushing the Raiders a bit further and perhaps contributing to the miss.
Going up against one of the leagueís best rushing attacks, the Raidersí performance in this phase of the game was actually very good. The two-headed tandem of Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell combined to record just 109 yards on 33 carries (just over 3.3 yards per carry). Following Andersonís 23 yard burst to open the game, the Broncos managed just 98 carries on 36 carries (2.7 YPC). In addition to stifling Denverís rushing attack, they also did a great job in forcing a late rumble on Tatum Bell that nearly led to a comeback.
If thereís one area outside of the play of Kerry Collins to pin the blame on, itís the pass defense. While the stats will tell you that Oakland allowed just 205 passing yards and only one touchdown through the air, that doesnít tell the whole story. The Raiders failed to record a single sack (or even come close). Not only that, it was a missed interception by Kirk Morrison that really doomed Oakland to the loss. The ball was in Morrisonís hands, with nothing in front of him but end zone. Unfortunately for Oakland, the ball bounced off his hands harmlessly to the turf. That missed opportunity really summed up the Raidersí day perfectly. The Raiders defense lost a sack that was negated by an offsides penalty.