Going on the road in a short week is a tough task for any NFL team.
Now the Denver Broncos get the reward for beating the division rival Oakland Raiders - three extra days of rest before their most important game remaining in the regular season.
Peyton Manning threw for 310 yards and had 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 Raiders on Thursday night.
"These Thursday night games are tough, especially late in the year,'' Manning said. "I know I'm tired.''
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 now gets the extra rest before visiting the Ravens next week in a game that will help decide who gets a first-round playoff bye.
"It means a lot,'' cornerback Champ Bailey said. "We're probably going to need it. The more preparation you could have for a team like that, the better.''
Carson Palmer threw one interception 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. It is the team's longest skid since also losing six in a row in 2007.
The Raiders played the game with heavy hearts as coach Dennis Allen's father, Grady, died earlier in the week from cardiac arrest. Allen was away from the team for two days but returned Wednesday and coached the game.
"I took my father off life support (voice cracking), and that's not easy to do,'' Allen said. "So was it hard? Yeah, it was hard. But I know my father would want me to be here with this football team, and I wanted to be here with this football team. So I'm sure you guys can imagine it wasn't an easy situation.''
The Raiders' players talked during the week about rallying around their first-year coach, but 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 for only a brief time as the Raiders got on the board late in the first half on a touchdown pass from Palmer to Darren McFadden and then started with the ball in the third quarter trailing 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 Raiders' drive stalled in Denver territory after that and the Broncos took the game over. McFadden later left the game after re-injuring the ankle.
Manning, who joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 5,000 career completions, converted a third-and-11 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. Matt 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, forcing Oakland to start a drive at their 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.
Moreno is filling in for the injured Willis McGahee and is giving the Broncos the running game they will need to be successful in the postseason.
"You always have to have your mind ready to carry it as many times as they need,'' Moreno said. "That's what we needed. It felt good. It felt good for this offense, you know all the hard work that we do put in.''
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.
The only remaining drama was whether quarterback project Terrelle Pryor would get his first action of the season for Oakland. He didn't, giving the frustrated Raiders fans yet another reason to be upset even though Palmer added a 56-yard TD pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey and finished with 273 yards passing.
"To rack up this many losses in a row in the fashion that we've done is just extremely frustrating,'' Palmer said.
After the game police said a man fell from the upper deck at the stadium shortly before kickoff and was in serious condition at a hospital. Initial reports called the fall an accident, but police said it remained under investigation. The team had no comment.
Going on the road in a short week is a tough task for any NFL team.
Claremore’s Webster tabbed 5A-4 Special Teams Player of Year
Claremore senior wide receiver Caleb Webster capped off his final year of high school football with the District 5A-4 Special Teams Player of the Year award.
It took a little over 57 minutes, but Bedlam finally broke out at Boone Pickens Stadium. That was when a defensive struggle turned into an offensive shootout.
Oklahoma landed the last two blows and left with a 33-24 upset victory in one of the most memorable games in the series’ 108-game history.
LCU Lady Chaps cruise past Rogers State, 84-65
The Rogers State women’s basketball team dropped a 84-65 decision to Lubbock Christian on Saturday afternoon at the Claremore Expo.
Ex-Zebra shooter Miller provides spark for Allen CC
The success of the Allen Community College Red Devils this season has been aided by former Claremore Zebra shooting guard Alex Miller.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore guard was one of five players to score in double figures during the Red Devils’ 80-76 win over Fort Scott (Kan.) last week.
Foyil’s Pierce named District A-8 top offensive lineman
The key to the Foyil Panthers’ football success over the past four seasons inside McGregor Field has been attributed to the leadership of senior offensive lineman Daltun Pierce’s ability to win the battle in the trenches.
Earlier this month, Pierce was named the District A-8 Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Ky Madden's career-high 21 points lifts Arkansas past Savannah State
Ky Madden helped turn Arkansas' first-half angst into a runaway birthday win for coach Mike Anderson.
Led by Madden's career-high 21 points, the Razorbacks - who struggled mightily with leading scorer Michael Qualls on the bench in the first half - pulled away in the second half for a 72-43 win over Savannah State on Thursday night.
NCAA women's basketball tournament back to neutral sites
The NCAA women's basketball regionals are going back to neutral sites.
The championship committee announced Wednesday that Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Greensboro and Albany will host the 2015 regionals. The committee received criticism this Fall from some coaches about the move to have regionals on campus for this season's tournament.
NBA CAPSULES: Portland's Aldridge records 31 points, 25 rebounds in win over Rockets
Andray Blatche and Joe Johnson each scored 21 points in the Brooklyn Nets' 102-93 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, making Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett winners in their first matchup with Doc Rivers.
SEC football games more popular than ever on TV
The Southeastern Conference is more popular than ever.
The average television rating for the league's games on CBS this season was the highest since the network began broadcasting a primarily SEC schedule in 2001.
Florida announces 6 players transferring
Florida coach Will Muschamp seems to be cleaning house after the program's first losing season since 1979.
Muschamp announced Thursday that six offensive players have decided to transfer. The list includes freshman quarterback Max Staver and three offensive linemen.
- More Sports Headlines
- Claremore’s Webster tabbed 5A-4 Special Teams Player of Year