OAKLAND — After overwhelming another overmatched division rival, Peyton Manning and the streaking Denver Broncos can turn their attention to much more meaningful opponents.
Manning threw for 310 yards and extended his franchise record with his 30th touchdown pass of the season on the game’s opening drive to help the Broncos roll to their eighth straight victory, 26-13 over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.
Manning joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 5,000 completions and became the fastest in history to reach that plateau.
Knowshon Moreno ran for 119 yards and a score on a career-high 32 carries, and Matt Prater kicked four field goals to help the Broncos (10-3) move a half-game ahead of New England and Baltimore for the second-best record in the AFC. Denver visits Baltimore next week in a game that will help decide a first-round playoff bye.
“That would be great but we can’t really concentrate on that,” said cornerback Champ Bailey, who intercepted a pass. “We need to concentrate on what we need to do to get better. Just keep plugging along and that thing will take care of itself.”
Carson Palmer threw the pass intercepted by Bailey that thwarted a possible scoring chance for the Raiders (3-10) and lost a fumble that set up a touchdown for the Broncos as Oakland lost its sixth straight game. This is the team’s longest skid since also losing six in a row in 2007.
The Raiders came out flat against a fierce division rival and were swept in the season series by the Broncos for the first time since 2006.
The game was mildly competitive only briefly when Oakland got on the scoreboard late in the first half on a touchdown pass from Palmer to Darren McFadden, and then started with the ball in the third quarter down 13-7.
McFadden, returning from a four-game absence for a sprained right ankle, broke off a 36-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, but the drive stalled in Denver territory after that and the Broncos took over.
Manning converted a third-and-11 play with a perfectly placed 22-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas. Manning followed that with a 29-yard completion to Eric Decker, but the drive stalled after a pass-interference call on Matt Giordano gave the Broncos a first down at the 1. Prater’s 20-yard field goal made it 16-7.
Mike Goodson then made the ill-advised decision to return a kick from 8 yards deep in the end zone, causing Oakland to start a drive at the 8. Von Miller then beat Khalif Barnes for a sack on third down, stripping the ball from Palmer. Mitch Unrein recovered at the 2 and Moreno scored two plays later to make it 23-7.
Prater added another field goal later in the third quarter and Manning went on to his record 12th season with 10 wins as a starting quarterback.