OAKLAND – For the last half century, the Oakland Raiders have tried to be the toughest franchise around. Good or bad, they were willing to punch you in the mouth. And this Raiders team, especially with former Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour, looked pretty tough.
Broncos coach Josh McDaniels looked at the film last week and decided the Raiders weren’t tougher than his team.
This wasn’t McDaniels’ most complicated plan. The Broncos simply lined up and knocked the Raiders around Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for a 23-3 win, improving to 3-0. And Seymour, the baddest of all the Raiders, was called for a 15-yard penalty for yanking left tackle Ryan Clady’s hair and pulling his helmet off after one play. Apparently Seymour was frustrated over being manhandled most of the game.
“We felt like they were a physical team,” said running back Correll Buckhalter. “We felt like we were a little more physical than them.”
“We’ve got tough guys on our team, too,” McDaniels said.
Offensively, the Broncos usually lined up with multiple tight ends instead of spreading the field. The offensive line, including the tight ends, controlled the game up front. Denver nearly had two backs gain 100 yards. Buckhalter got there, rushing for 108 yards on 14 carries. Rookie Knowshon Moreno added 90 yards and a touchdown. And when Kyle Orton dropped back to pass he was rarely bothered. For the second straight week, Orton wasn’t sacked.
Denver’s defense was physical, too. The Raiders like to run the ball — mostly because JaMarcus Russell is far from a competent NFL quarterback — and the Broncos wanted that challenge. Oakland’s top two tailbacks, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, each averaged less than 4 yards per carry. Russell was sacked three times, threw two interceptions and was booed almost the entire game. And when the Raiders did get some momentum after Buckhalter lost a fumble in the third quarter, Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams stripped McFadden and safety Brian Dawkins recovered.
Denver outgained Oakland 372-137. Last year the Broncos gave up 448 points, or 28 per game. In their first three games this year, the Broncos have given up 7, 6 and 3 points.
“It’s business as usual,” Dawkins said. “Wherever they get the ball at, there’s no guarantees they can get the ball in the end zone.”
No matchup personified the Broncos’ physical domination better than Clady against Seymour. Seymour is a five-time Pro Bowler and the 310-pounder is known for being nasty and tough. He was completely shut out for the first 28 minutes of the first half by Clady. Seymour finished with three tackles and most of the time was stonewalled by Clady when Orton dropped back to pass. In the third quarter, Seymour finally got in a good shot on Clady – well after Orton had thrown the ball. That drew a penalty which set up Moreno’s touchdown. Clady was upset on the field but wouldn’t talk about it afterward.
“No comment on that one,” Clady said.
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