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Published on 10/02/2012 at Tue Oct 02 17:06.
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Broncos 37, Raiders 6 — you know what a victory means, fellas. Give out your BT Game Balls!

Eric Decker:

I have been hard on Eric Decker basically since he has been a rookie. Whether it was that he was a better punt/kick returner than receiver or that he was only good to catch every third pass that came his way. When I say pictures of him last off-season hanging out with Kyle Orton and Larry Fitzgeraldin Minnesota it basically assured any doubt in my mind that he was just playing teacher’s pet.This off-season was no different, the Denver Broncos sign Peyton Manning, Manning and Decker go on sobatical. The season starts and Decker turns in some atrocious stat lines. Then week three happens, then week four happens. I now declare Decker the real deal, even if he didn’t happen to close his thighs on what could have been his second touchdown reception on Sunday.  — Ian Henson

Dan Koppen:When J.D. Walton went down with an ankle injury early on in the game, there was reason for concern in Denver. Walton’s replacement, a veteran named Dan Koppen, discredited those concerns by helping the offensive line protect quarterback Peyton Manning well enough for him to throw for 338 yards and three scores. Koppen was not penalized (that I can recall, but I may be incorrect) during the game and did not allow any sacks. Meanwhile, the entire offensive line allowed zero sacks, marking just the ninth time a team in NFL history to score 37 points and record 500 yards of offense while not allowing a sack or having to punt.

The Broncos’ running game also fared well. With Koppen anchoring the offensive line, running back Willis McGahee rushed for 100+ yards for the 32nd time in his career (which is the most among all active running backs). As a team, the Broncos rushed for 165 yards. Despite Walton’s absence, the Broncos offense had one of their — if not the — best games of the season, thanks in part to Koppen being able to jump in and play effectively on short notice.  — Jon Heath

Keith Brooking:

Did the defense look better with Keith Brooking at MLB or Joe Mays? Brooking finished with only three tackles and two assists, but I kept noticing him plugging the correct lanes to force Darren McFadden to his second or third option. The Broncos are too fast for that to work for the Oakland Raiders rushing attack. I was hoping to see Nate Irving out there, but after seeing Brooking play sound, fundamental football I’d like to see more. The sad part for me is that coaches rarely bench a veteran after the starters are selected in preseason, so Joe Mays will likely be back at it next week against the New England Patriots.

To back up that sentiment, Mays was the starting middle linebacker last season with essentially the same lineup (D.J. Williams was injured or suspended or something last season too) when Darren McFadden rushed for 150 yards on 22 carries. On Sunday, McFadden 34 yards on 13 carries. With Tom Brady coming to town we probably won’t be able to gauge the run defense, but if Stevan Ridley somehow has a big day well then there you go.  — Tim Lynch

Demaryius Thomas:

His second quarter fumble — who knows if it was induced by ghosts, the Buffalo Wild Wings sprinkler system, or Tim Tebow‘s jealous will — looked to be a potential turning point in the Raiders’ favor early in the game. Thomas was visibly upset, as he should have been. The mistake was so brutal and so potentially game-changing that I never would have believed you if you told me I’d be giving him my game ball a day or two later.

But here’s the thing: Thomas didn’t let his foul-up screw up the rest of his game.

Thomas still eclipsed the 100-yard mark with 103 yards on five catches — averaging over 20 yards per catch. He was hustling every play, and he threw some wicked blocks, especially on Eric Decker’s late touchdown. His no-quit attitude showed that the third-year wideout has veteran maturity — something Peyton Manning surely likes to see.  — Kyle Montgomery

Peyton Manning:Vintage Manning performance.  Enough said.  — Jon Heath

There are plenty more game balls where those came from!  Who gets your game ball this week?  Let us know in the comments below!

  • disqus_2kxiF1Pe6j

    Just had to have the bit about Tebow in there huh?

  • Jon Broncos Heath

    Can’t forget McGahee and Bruton.

  • Tim Lynch

    Jay Cutler. Kyle Orton. Jake Plummer. It’s okay to bring those guys up… ;) Brady Quinn. lol….Adam Weber.

  • Jon_BT

    Chris Simms, Darrell Hackey. Boom.

  • Doom92

    Wasn’t it Hackney?

  • Doom92

    I thought Koppen was outstanding and looked better and more “in place” than Walton ever has…

  • Doom92

    Even with Brookings a step slower than his “step slower” days and with his best days behind him he looks better fundamentally and makes WAY better decisions than Joe Mays does. I’d rather see Brookings OR Irving over Mays. He simply isn’t a starting MLB in the NFL.

  • Jon_BT

    Correct you are.

  • Mike Birtwistle

    Wow, no game ball for Britton? He didn’t make a single punting mistake.

  • Mike Birtwistle

    Thing with Thomas was deliberate I reckon, he was trying to set Elvis up for another safety.

  • Mergrath

    It was a great team performance. Yes, there were mistakes (no bigger then DT’s fumble) but the team kept fighting and eventually overwhelmed the Raiders.

    As mentioned, Bruton and McGahee were studs as well. I thought our TE’s of Dressen and Tamme played their best games to date. What about the ageless Stokely! He damn near took that one play to the house with that fake lateral! It amazes me that he still has the wheels!!!

    Looking forward to a competitive game against New England this weekend! GO BRONCOS!!!!

  • Mergrath

    As for the Brookings vs. Mays debate, I feel that the MLB has to be the smartest, most instinctive player on a defense…Mays is neither. I would let Brookings role just like I had felt about Koppen replacing Walton (before the injury). These guys have great NFL experience for a reason! Let them play!

  • Aaron McFarland

    how about a game ball for that Prater pass…lol. On a serious note, Prater did win special teams player of the week for the AFC.

  • Michael Gibbons

    Darrell hackney! Nice Patrick Ramsey Bradlee van pelt jarious Jackson’s Danny Kanel Steve beurlein

  • plato68

    What no love for Bubby?