OAKLAND, Calif. — The Raiders brought out the bronze busts at halftime.
The Raiders brought out their tin men the rest of the game.
The boon Broncos beat the busted Raiders on Thursday night.
The Raiders honored their 19 Hall of Famers. Too bad for Oakland they couldn't suit up. George Blanda, Ted Hendricks, Dave Casper and AARP Raiders would have been more helpful than the current BARF Raiders.
The Broncos had at least two future first-ballot Hall of Famers — and probably more — on the field.
Peyton Manning completed the 5,000th pass of his career, and Champ Bailey intercepted the 52nd pass of his. A black hole in space, because of gravity, doesn't allow anything to escape. This was not a game of gravity. The imposing Broncos, the Horse Force, escaped without trouble.
Von Miller, who is early in a potential HoF run, had a sack-forced fumble that set up a touchdown to give the Broncos space at 23-7 in the third quarter.
And there was Mitch Unrein The Unchained Melody. Once again playing on goal-line offense and often on defense, Unrein recovered Carson Palmer's fumble. In two games the reserve defensive lineman Unrein has a touchdown catch, a fumble and a quarterback grab that produced a pick six by Miller. Mitch is playing like a Hall of Famer.
Eight straight victories, and still counting. The next one will be the most difficult — and the most imperative. Baltimore is ahead.
Despite total domination, the Broncos led only 13-7 at the interruption. But, then, the Broncos led only 13-6 at halftime in Denver, and cruised 37-6. They ended up winning 26-13 this time, and it would have been worse if Manning hadn't shut it down in the shadow.
"Felt good to run down the clock and have a kneel down at the end," Manning said. "These Thursday night games aren't easy, especially toward the end of the season."
People would wonder if this was a trap game. Home teams have won the vast majority of the Thursday night games this year. The Broncos could have suffered a letdown following the string of four victories on the road. The Raiders needed a victory to salvage an insipid season. The players should have been motivated to play hard and tough for coach Dennis Allen, whose father Grady (a former NFL linebacker) died Monday night. The Raiders also were aware that reports surfaced this week — rather inappropriately when the Broncos' coordinator of a year ago was grieving — that Allen could be replaced after just his first season in Oakland.
Wonder no more.
The Raiders pulled off only one lengthy drive in three quarters. The rest of the time, they made John Madden, among the honorees at halftime, ashamed. Old Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson wouldn't have even been able to work up a "It's over, Fat Man," shout at the former Raiders coach. The late Al Davis' widow was introduced. Al would have said: "Just don't get blown out, baby."
The Raiders were weak and incapable as usual; the Broncos were mostly effective and efficient, as usual.
Manning threw for 142 yards in the opening quarter. He short-sheeted a 28-yard pass toward the end zone in the second quarter, but finished 26-of-36 for 310 yards and a touchdown. But he wanted to praise the running backs afterward. With reason. Knowshon Moreno went for 119, Ronnie Hillman 24. The Raiders would have been better off with Willie Brown at cornerback, although he walks with a cane now. Brown, who turned 72 this week, played with the Broncos before spending the rest of his long career with the Raiders.
With eight minutes remaining, the teams scuffled ... for about five seconds. The rivalry is over. The Broncos have bigger fish and fowl to fry.
The Broncos haven't lost in two months — Oct. 7 in New England. After the Herculean comeback in San Diego, I wrote that the Broncos would go on an eight-game streak, and many scoffed. The Broncos identified the identity Manning wanted, and the defense discovered discovery. If the Broncos can manage to handle the now-manageable Ravens, they close against a couple of confectionery teams. A 12-4 or 13-3 record is there and theirs for the grasping.
Especially with Manning, who became the youngest quarterback to reach 5,000 completed passes. Actually, there are only two. Brett Favre is the other. Especially with Bailey, who will join Manning in the Hall of Fame. Bailey almost has been forgotten with other defensive players making significant plays. Nobody should ever forget Bailey. Especially with Miller, who certainly remains the favorite for NFL defensive player of the year.
Commissioner Roger Goodell got a very good look at the Broncos on Thursday night.
And, as he walked past The Black Hole, which is just a pit without purpose these days, the commish stopped to shake hands with one of the mohawked crazies. Goodell had said the league would help the Raiders build a new stadium. Who's going to help the Raiders build a new team?
Certainly not the Broncos, who played another fame game Thursday night.
Woody Paige: firstname.lastname@example.org