The O'Reilly Report

Broncos Update Contributor Dan O'Reilly passes out grades for the Denver Broncos in their 22-3 win over the Oakland Raiders.

A nice effort on Saturday. The Denver Broncos got their Christmas present early with San Diego losing at Kansas City and Buffalo on the road beating Cincinnati. That left the Broncos with one task: beating Oakland at the friendly confines of Invesco @ Mile High. There are those who said this had the potential to end in disaster for the Broncos, as last year's game did. But this is a different team in a different year, and although the Broncos were sent scurrying about by the initial large dose of Zach Crockett running the ball, they adjusted nicely afterward to get the job done.

If there's a concern, it would be red-zone performance, and for that reason, I expect the Broncos starters to come out playing hard next week at San Diego, however "meaningless" that game is. Meaningless for the Chargers, but very possibly a good "tune-up" game for the Broncos.

Offense: A
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A great game plan executed to perfection by Jake Plummer & Company. The short crossing routes were there all day, as were some longer ones. The run game stayed on track from last week, which is a good sign. Ashley Lelie has to be my MVP for the game, he was very involved and gave a Rod-Smith type effort - a definite sign of maturity. The offensive line worried me just a bit, but then again, the Raiders have one of the league's best pass rushers in Burgess. Overall, I'll take this effort any day of the week.

Defense: A
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Stifling. Just plain stifling. Not much more needs to be said. Al Wilson, another great game. Nick Ferguson, another great game. Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, the whole DL, another great game (I personally think sack totals are overrated). Domonique Foxworth, great job of filling in at cornerback. With the job that Curome Cox, Foxworth, Champ Bailey and Ferguson did (even if it was against Kerry Collins), and with the possibility/probability of Darrent Williams returning for the first playoff game, I have more faith in the Broncos DB's than I've had in several years. And most importantly, the younger guys (there are no "rookies" in game 15 of the season) have been getting valuable playing time against some quality receivers.

Special Teams: A
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I wonder what crossed Jake Plummer's mind as he turned to see the ball two inches from his face mask...! Mike Leach admitted during a sideline interview I heard from the game that he messed up (ok, ok, that was fairly obvious). But hey, it didn't come back to bite the Broncos, and at least they're getting that out of their collective system now. Todd Sauerbrun had another very nice day kicking (what a great upgrade this season), as did Jason Elam.

Coaching: A
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The usual impeccable Mike Shanahan game plan vs the Raiders. But it was great on both sides of the ball, not just on one.



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