Sometimes, they call these trap games.
The Denver Broncos came into Oakland Thursday night on a seven-game winning streak, having already clinched the AFC West, to take on a Raiders team on a six-game losing skid.
With a big matchup against Baltimore next week, some speculated the Broncos might fall easily into the trap of overlooking an Oakland team it whacked 37-6 earlier this season.
For the second time this season, the Broncos dominated the Raiders, taking a 26-13 decision.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who carved up the Raiders secondary in the first meeting this season, did it again, throwing for 310 yards on 26-of-36 passing. He gave Denver an early 7-0 lead with a 6-yard TD pass to tight end Joel Dreessen that finished off a beautiful opening-game drive kept alive by a Raiders holding penalty.
Later in the quarter the Raiders (3-10) moved the ball down to the Broncos’ 22 – after a 58-yard pass from Carson Palmer to rookie Rod Streater – but Palmer was picked off on his very next pass.
The Broncos went into halftime up 13-7, with the Raiders having gotten back into the game on a 7-yard TD run by Darren McFadden, who was playing his first game in more than a month because of an ankle injury.
In the third quarter, the Broncos marched to a field goal to go up 16-7, then immediately tacked on a gift touchdown when Palmer was sacked by Von Miller and fumbled deep in its own territory. Denver quickly extended its lead to 23-7 a 1-yard TD run by Knowshon Moreno.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Raiders were able to get back on the scoreboard on a 56-yard TD pass from Palmer to Darrius Heyward-Bey, but the ensuing two-point conversion pass failed.
The Raiders defense, which ranked last in the league in points allowed going into the game, was porous again, and hurt by both the Denver passing and running attacks.
Moreno ran 32 times for 119 yards, and Manning completed passes to seven different receivers.
Palmer finished the night with 273 yards passing on 19-of-30 completions, but again the Raiders’ running game wasn’t a factor. McFadden had just 52 yards on 11 carries.
For the Raiders, Thursday night’s loss marked a bad end to a five-day stretch that included a loss to the visiting Browns Sunday, then the death of head coach Dennis Allen’s father in Texas (Allen returned to the team Wednesday after being with his father earlier in the week).
Now, the Raiders have just three games remaining, with games against the Chiefs in Oakland on Sunday, Dec. 16, at Carolina on Dec. 23 and in San Diego to end the season on Dec. 30.