Immediately after each game, sports columnist Mark Purdy issues his Markups and Markdowns, analyzing the good and bad of Sunday's result.
FINAL SCORE: DENVER 37, RAIDERS 6
MARKDOWN — The Raiders' second half focus and intensity. Not acceptable. After a first half that was sluggish but moderately acceptable, Oakland trailed by just four points at halftime. But any NFL team that is outscored in the third quarter, 21-0, is taking the field for the third quarter with either insurmountable injuries or improper concentration. The Raiders did not have insurmountable injuries.
MARKUP — Peyton Manning. At age 36, the old man is learning how to manage his way through a National Football League season quite well as the Broncos' designated quarterbacking savior. Of course, it helps that he can go through an entire game without one smudge on his still-optically-strange orange home Denver uniform. But he put every ball he threw in the proper place. Sunday was the 65th time in his career he's posted a 300-yard game.
MARKDOWN — Rolando McLain, the Raider middle linebacker who continues to show the football instincts of a cricket player. Seriously, how can you play the game this long and seemingly never be able to anticipate one Denver offensive play well enough to create a game-changing hit or turnover?
MARKUP — Thunder, the white horse that gallops up and down the field whenever Denver scores
MARKDOWN — Raider defensive back Pat Lee. On the Broncos' opening drive, Lee made a good break on a throw to receiver Demaryius Thomas--and Peyton Manning put the ball right in Lee's breadbasket. But he dropped it. Four plays later, Manning hit Joel Dreesen for Denver's first touchdown. Lee will be seeing that missed interception in his sleep. It's always dangerous to say such an early play would have changed everything in the game. But it would have changed something. Theoretically, it would have meant a 6-6 tie at halftime rather than a 10-6 Denver lead. Would that have meant a different second half? Probably not. But you never know.
MARKUP AND MARKDOWN — Raider offensive coordinator Greg Knapp is considered the devil in a headset by many Raider followers. But his game-planning Sunday obviously found a vulnerability by the Broncos to misdirection pass plays. Palmer found fullback Marcel Reece on an early pass to the flat where the entire Denver defense had been sucked to the opposite side of the field. Reece made 31 yards on the play. Knapp repeated the trick twice more on similar plays in the first half. Those plays also worked — but still never got the Raiders into the end zone. Then, in the second half, everything fell part. Also, why was Raider quarterback Carson Palmer still in the game with three minutes left and Oakland trailing by 31 points? So does this make Knapp a devil or angel? On this day, both.
MARKDOWN — Other than one nice bat-down of a Manning pass at the Oakland 4-yard-line by Raider defensive lineman Richard Seymour, it's hard to think of anything disruptive that the Oakland pass rushers did all afternoon.
MARKUP — The game officials. No major glitches and no blown calls and no long-winded discussions. Well done, gentlemen.
MARKDOWN -- Raiders' tight end Brandon Myers, one of the "up" blockers on the punt team. He failed to keep Denver rusher David Bruton from getting a hand on Shane Lechler's punt from the Raider 16-yard line, allowing the Broncos to take over the ball at the 18 and ram it in for the touchdown that made the score 24-6, essentially clinching the game for Denver. Technically, it didn't count as a block because the ball went past the line of scrimmage. But it shows that even without Travis Goethel snapping the ball, the Raiders can mess up their special teams play. Must do better.
MARKUP — Lamarr Houston, the Raider defensive lineman who showed all you kids at home what the word "hustle" really means. On a second quarter play, Manning hit wide open Demaryius Thomas, who began streaking down the left sideline toward a seemingly-inevitable touchdown. But as Thomas tried to shift the ball from one hand to the other, it popped out at the 25-yard line and began rolling down the field toward the end zone. Houston was sprinting downfield and trailing the play — instead of giving up on it back at the line of scrimmage, as many defensive linemen do — and ended up recovering the ball at the Raider 4-yard line.
MARKDOWN — The USA Ryder Cup team. Just on principle. They might be the only team in the USA that had a worse back nine than the Raiders on Sunday.