OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Peyton Manning threw for 201 yards and a touchdown to tight end Joel Dreessen, and the Denver Broncos took a 13-7 halftime lead over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.
Manning completed 16 of 22 passes and threw an interception in the end zone. He joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks with 5,000 career completions. Manning reached the milestone in 239 games, while Favre took 221.
Matt Prater also kicked field goals of 43 and 34 yards.
Carson Palmer completed 12 of 18 passes for 148 yards, including a short touchdown throw to Darren McFadden for Oakland's only score. Palmer also threw an interception to Champ Bailey at the goal line.
Denver converted three straight third downs on its opening drive to take command.
The first came when officials whistled Philip Wheeler for defensive holding after an incomplete pass. Manning hit Eric Decker for 16-yard completion on the next, and Knowshon Moreno took a short pass on a blitz for a 26-yard gain on another.
That set up a seamless 6-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Dreessen that put the Broncos ahead 7-0 only 4:30 into the game. Moreno had 13 carries for 50 yards at the half.
The Raiders were playing the game with heavy hearts. Head coach Dennis Allen, the defensive coordinator in Denver last season, had been in the Dallas area all week because the death of his father, Grady.
McFadden and Mike Goodson also returned for the Raiders after missing the previous four games with sprained right ankles. Neither running back had played since getting hurt Nov. 4 against Tampa Bay.
McFadden made the kind of impact the Raiders were hoping for when Palmer faked right and slipped a short screen pass back to the left to the rejuvenated running back. McFadden ran untouched for a 6-yard touchdown and jumped into the Black Hole section after slicing Denver's lead to 13-7 with 1:59 remaining until the half.
Quite a feat considering how unstoppable Manning and Co. looked at the start.
Decker caught a 19-yard pass to give the Broncos a fourth straight third-down conversion. After Lamarr Houston sacked Manning for an 11-yard loss later in the drive, Denver settled for a 43-yard field goal by Prater for a 10-0 lead.
Palmer quickly completed a 58-yard pass to Rod Streater at the Broncos 22. A play later, Bailey sliced in front of Palmer's pass intended for Brandon Myers at the goal line for an interception that led to Prater's second field goal.
Manning still wasn't perfect.
The four-time NFL MVP threw into a crowd of defenders midway through the second quarter, and Phillip Adams intercepted the pass in the end zone. Manning also was playing without wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who left with a shoulder injury in the first half.
Raiders defensive back Michael Huff (wrist) and safety Mike Mitchell (neck) also left with injuries. The team said they were questionable to return.
What a change in this AFC West rivalry.
Just a year ago, Denver and Oakland went to the end of the season in the race for the division title. The Broncos edged the Raiders for first place on the final day by winning a three-team tiebreaker with San Diego.
Now Denver (9-3) is riding a seven-game winning streak and has already wrapped up the division, while the Raiders (3-9) have lost five straight and Allen is fighting to make it to a second season.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Peyton Manning
- Oakland Raiders
- Denver Broncos
- Carson Palmer
- Joel Dreessen
- Matt Prater