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.
Howe, Whatley shine at OU Showcase
Claremore High School seniors Bryce Howe and Matt Whatley caught the eyes of several NCAA Division I and JUCO scouts Friday in Norman.
Howe and Whatley, as well as Claremore’s Cole Weiesnbach and Cameron Smith, competed with the Bearcats — a competitive baseball team coached by Jenks’ Jeff Owens — at the University of Oklahoma Showcase.
‘Staying close to home’
Home is where the heart is.
Claremore graduate Isaac Hollihan loves playing baseball and takes his academics pretty serious.
For the next four years, Hollihan will continue his baseball career a short distance from his Claremore residence at Rogers State University.
TRACK: Tyson Gay healthy heading into nationals
For a little bit, Tyson Gay's first step tearing down the track made him wince and his next made him wonder: Would he ever be the same sprinter again?
The runner who captured three gold medals at the 2007 world championships. The runner who broke the American 100-meter record in 2009.
Texas Longhorns men's track coach retires
Texas men's track coach Bubba Thornton is retiring after 18 years and 12 conference championships.
According to a statement from the school on Monday, Thornton and athletic director DeLoss Dodds mutually agreed to terminate the coach's contract effective Aug. 31. The Longhorns won this year's Big 12 indoor and outdoor championships and finished sixth at the NCAA outdoor championships.
Daytona frontstretch getting $400M facelift
Daytona International Speedway is getting another facelift, this one considerably bigger than the last.
Three years after a complete repaving project, the famed track is overhauling the frontstretch to enhance the "fan experience.''
STANLEY CUP NOTEBOOK: Rough ice affects play in Game 3
Teams try to avoid risky plays in the postseason that they might try in the regular season. And when the ice surface isn't smooth, even greater care is necessary.
Boston took that approach with less-than-ideal ice conditions during its 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks that gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night.
STANLEY CUP: Rask shuts down Blackhawks, Bruins take 2-1 lead
The puck bounced off the post and rolled across the crease, away from the goal line. The red light flashed briefly, but replays would confirm that Tuukka Rask's shutout streak was intact.
For the last 122 minutes, 26 seconds of the Stanley Cup finals, the Bruins goalie has prevented Chicago from scoring.
New $15M scoreboards planned for Jazz arena
Owners of EnergySolutions Arena are upgrading the home turf of the Utah Jazz with a new $15 million scoreboard system.
NBA FINALS: Heat have no room for error versus Spurs in Game 6
They lost three times in three months in one of the most overpowering stretches the NBA has ever seen.
Now the Miami Heat have lost three times in five games.
So superb during the regular season, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat have to be something even more for the rest of the NBA Finals.
NBA FINALS: Spurs' coach puts 'Pop' into news conferences
During his team's Game 3 rout of the Heat, Gregg Popovich was shown on TV talking to his players while they were in the process of burying Miami with a stirring offensive display.
- More Sports Headlines
- Howe, Whatley shine at OU Showcase