Silver and black and blue all over
OAKLAND -- The Denver Broncos are coming off a rare losing season, haven’t made the playoffs in two years, and have a roster infused with 10 first-year players, including rookies at left tackle, starting receiver and punter.
Leave it to the Oakland Raiders to make an opponent feel good about itself.
That’s taking nothing away from Denver’s performance in the 41-14 drubbing it delivered Monday night at McAfee Coliseum; the Broncos rolled up 441 yards of offense and looked like a team that could challenge San Diego for dominance in the AFC West.
The Raiders, meanwhile, looked like the team that opted to skip training camp. They converted just two of 12 third downs, were flagged for 10 penalties -- half of them personal fouls -- and didn’t put points on the board until the outcome had long since been decided.
And things could get worse. Rookie running back Darren McFadden came out of the game with several minutes remaining and didn’t return. The team later explained it was a neck stinger.
The Raiders also saw their first- and second-string left tackles, Kwame Harris and Paul McQuistan, hobble off the field with apparent leg injuries.
McFadden, the No. 4 overall pick, gained 46 yards in nine carries. Oakland’s leading rusher was former USC back Justin Fargas, who gained 97 in 18 carries.
Stopping the run has been a problem recently for the Broncos, who were ranked 30th in that category last season -- one spot ahead of the Raiders. They were gearing up to stop McFadden, one of six backs this preseason to average at least five yards per carry. They did that; McFadden wasn’t much of a factor.
With the loss, the Raiders dropped to a league-worst 19-62 since 2003.
The Broncos were playing without No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall, who was serving a one-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Rookie receiver Eddie Royal picked up the slack, though, catching nine passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Royal played so well, he made newly acquired Raiders cornerback DeAngelo Hall look like the rookie. In fact, Hall was flagged for rapid-fire personal fouls, two in three plays.
The game was supposed to be a coming-out party for Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 who started one game last season. But he didn’t get great protection, often looked plodding and indecisive, and didn’t establish any sort of offensive rhythm until it was too late.
Russell completed 17 of 26 passes for 180 yards with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. He was sacked twice and lost a bar-of-soap fumble, when the ball popped out of his hands as he tried to pass.
It marked the second time in three years the Raiders opened with an embarrassing home loss on “Monday Night Football.” The first came in 2006, when San Diego shut them out, 27-0.