And all of that talk of how the Oakland Raiders would be a better defense against the run? The last three weeks, they've looked no better than last season. This time, the Denver Broncos and Reuben Droughns ran through Oakland's defense like it wasn't even there. Droughns amassed 176 yards and one touchdown and as a team totaled 254 yards on the ground. Denver outgained Oakland 444-145 in total yardage and 25-9 in first downs.
While we're at it, Jerry Rice going without a reception might as well not even be a story any more. Rice had his streak of consecutive games snapped earlier this season against Buffalo. He went without a catch for the third time Sunday. Rice has been lobbying for a trade before the October 19 deadline. No movement there yet but that's another story for another time.
The Raiders, who host the New Orleans Saints Sunday, fell to 2-4. For those scoring at home, that is the same record they had last season through six games. Even more maddening is that the Broncos improve to 5-1 and have a two-game lead over San Diego (3-3) and three over Oakland in the AFC West race.
For a rare time, an Oakland home game was a sellout, thus allowing the game to be aired on local TV. Efforts like this one, however, will not give fans incentive to come.
The Raiders actually looked like they were generating some momentum late in the first half. Trailing 21-3, quarterback Kerry Collins hit Jerry Porter over the middle. Porter was not down by contact and elected to get up and run to pick up more yardage. Porter, however, fumbled the ball and Denver's Kenoy Kennedy recovered it. That is not to suggest that the outcome would have changed without that turnover but that mistake, in effect, any hope the Raiders had.
The start of the second half went no better as Kelly Herndon intercepted a Collins pass at the Oakland 35. The Broncos turned that takeaway into a 33-yard Jason Elam field goal, making it 24-3 at the 11:05 mark of the third period.
As it begin to rain harder midway through the third quarter, the Broncos had their own version of "pouring it on" – as in points. Droughns capped off a 12-play, 78-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown to put Denver up 31-3 at the 2:10 mark of the third quarter.
The Raiders got the first break of the game when starting strong safety Marques Anderson returned a Jake Plummer interception 24 yards to the Denver 20. Oakland, however, could not muster a first down and settled for a 34-yard Sebastian Jankowski field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 7:04 left in the first quarter.
Denver answered by driving 71 yards on 10 plays, capped off by a 12-yard Plummer-to-Jeb Putzier connection. Plummer rolled out to his right and found Putzier in the right flat. The Broncos added to their lead on the next possession, moving 80 yards on seven plays, capped off by a 10-yard Plummer-to-Dwayne Carswell connection. Carswell beat Raider corner Nnamdi Asomugha on the play to make it 14-3 Broncos at the 8:26 mark of the second quarter.
The Broncos scored on their next possession when Plummer hit Ashley Lelie for a 31-yard touchdown pass over the middle. Lelie beat cornerback Phillip Buchanon on the play and the Broncos led 21-3 with 4:03 left in the second quarter.
ESPN.com has news on Gannon
According to an ESPN.com report, Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon made a fourth visit to a specialist this weekend for a neck injury that has kept him out of the lineup since Sept. 26, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported.
Sources told Mortensen that the fourth visit concluded with the doctor telling Gannon "it's over," referring to Gannon's career.
Gannon has received mixed messages from other specialists -- one doctor told him the season, and maybe his career, is probably all but over. But another doctor, one the Raiders referred him to, said Gannon might be OK in six-to-eight weeks.
The 17-year veteran fractured a vertebra at the base of his neck in a helmet-to-helmet collision with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks on Sept. 26.
Team officials have been tight-lipped publicly about Gannon's future. There have been hints that he will not play again in 2004 and that the injury could end his career.
The Raiders are still in a holding pattern before determining whether to place him on injured reserve for the second straight season.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at email@example.com