If there were any questions before hand, they were quickly answered during the first half.
The Oakland Raiders are a vastly superior team while the Denver Broncos are, at best mediocre.
Not that anyone actually expected Denver to dominate the AFC's top rated Raiders, it's just that no one expected the Raiders to make it look so easy. Especially when you consider the fact that over the last decade Mike Shanahan and Company have owned Oakland, grabbing 11 of the last 12 games, including seven in a row.
So much for winning streaks.
Tonight, the Raiders began theirs with one as Rich Gannon fired three touchdown passes and Zack Crockett added another two on the ground to give Oakland a 38-28 win over the struggling Broncos.
Don't let the score fool you, it really wasn't that close.
Brian Griese, who has now handed out eleven interceptions over the past six games, resembled a deer in the headlights, scrambling as if his life depended on it. Make that because his life depended on it.
Four quarterback sacks, two interceptions and a third down efficiency rating of thirty-six per cent.
Not exactly what Shanahan had spent the entire week preparing for.
"The Raiders played an excellent football game," Shanahan told reporters, painful as it was to admit. "They had four drives and three touchdowns in the first half, they really controlled the tempo of the game."
Control being the key word, as Oakland jumped out to a 21-6 first half lead.
While that may have been a shock to some, Raiders receiver Tim Brown, who finished with nine catches for 95-yards, wasn't the least bit surprised. In fact, after studying Denver's game film, it was something he expected.
"We knew that if they didn't come up with a real tough man to man coverage, that we'd be able to get up field and make some moves," Brown said. "We know what we can do and if people don't do anything to stop us, we should do what we did tonight."
Needless to say, Denver did very little to stop them. They also did very little to help themselves.
It took nearly thirty-five minutes before the Broncos were able to muster a touchdown drive, as Griese connected with Rod Smith from the two-yard line. As fate would have it, even the two-point conversion attempt came up short, and Denver trailed 21-12.
Following a 19-yard Gannon to Tim Brown touchdown strike Denver made a game out of it, at least for a short time, as Griese engineered an 11-play, 80-yard drive, finding Desmond Clark from 11-yards out. This time the two-point conversion worked and the Broncos had cut the Oakland lead to 28-20.
That would be as close as they would come.
Oakland rebounded for two scores in just over three minutes, the first a Sebastian Janikowski 31-yard field goal and the second a Zack Crockett 3-yard plunge, set up in part by a 33-yard interception return by Raiders linebacker William Thomas.
Garbage time produced one final Broncos score, as Gus Frerotte, who replaced Griese with 3:44 remaining in the game, led a 7-play, 64-yard scoring drive, connecting with Rod Smith from the 26-yard line. Mike Anderson nailed the teams second two-point conversion with a burst up the middle, and Denver trailed 38-28.
Set, match, point, the streak ends, and in all likelihood so does Denver's chance at a playoff spot, having now dropped three conference games to AFC West opponents.
San Diego will attempt to deliver the final nail in the coffin next Sunday at Invesco Field.
Considering the Broncos recent performance, I wouldn't hold my breath.
All good things must end
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