NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Denver's Nate Webster tackled Oakland's Justin Griffith. The Broncos won last night's Monday Night Football game.
Broncos embarrass Raiders
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OAKLAND, Calif. » Jay Cutler threw for 300 yards with long touchdown passes to rookie Eddie Royal and Darrell Jackson that helped the Denver Broncos beat up on their AFC West rivals in a 41-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders last night.
Cutler completed 16 of 24 passes and confidently picked apart Oakland's rebuilt defense in a dominating season-opening performance, despite missing suspended big-play receiver Brandon Marshall.
"We're a young team. There were a lot of questions about us, but we felt good about what we have," Cutler said. "You have that little bit of doubt about what's going to happen with the young guys when the lights come on, but they came through time and time again."
Former Hawaii receiver Ashley Lelie started at wide receiver for the Raiders and caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. His score came from 8 yards out on a pass from JaMarcus Russell. Lelie was thrown to five times and had more receptions than any other Raiders receiver.
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OAKLAND, Calif. » Jay Cutler heard all the doubts about the Denver Broncos.
He had to show that he had his strength and rocket arm back now that his diabetes is under control, the offense needed to succeed without big-play receiver Brandon Marshall and the defense had to stand its ground against physical running teams.
A dominating opening-night performance provided a good early answer.
Cutler threw for 300 yards with long touchdown passes to rookie Eddie Royal and Darrell Jackson that helped the Broncos beat up on their AFC West rivals in a 41-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders last night.
"There were a lot of questions about us, but we felt good about what we have," Cutler said. "You have that little bit of doubt about what's going to happen with the young guys when the lights come on, but they came through time and time again."
Cutler showed why the Broncos made him a first-round draft pick in 2006, completing 16 of 24 passes and confidently picking apart Oakland's rebuilt defense despite missing its best offensive playmaker to a one-game suspension.
It was a pleasant sight for the Broncos after an up-and-down performance last season when Cutler lost 35 pounds and the zip on his throws while struggling with diabetes that was not diagnosed until March. Now he's back to his healthy self and the Broncos couldn't be happier.
"Jay made some great throws and did what you need to do for a quarterback to win," coach Mike Shanahan said. "We talked about stepping up and handling more of the offense, and he's doing it."
For the Raiders, the season couldn't have gotten off to much worse of a start. They lost their sixth straight season opener and only avoided their third straight shutout on Monday Night Football when JaMarcus Russell threw two meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown passes.
Oakland committed five personal fouls, botched a reverse for a 15-yard loss and was dominated on both sides of the ball in a performance that drew plenty of boos from a frustrated crowd that has grown all too used to this type of game. The Raiders have an NFL worst 19-62 record since 2004, and even the first game with Russell and Darren McFadden together couldn't change that.
"It's extremely disappointing," coach Lane Kiffin said. "Since I've been here we've played well at home. Even when we lose, we're in almost every game in the fourth quarter. I was shocked with the results today."
Royal helped make sure of that in an NFL debut that made sure the Broncos did not miss Marshall, catching nine passes for 146 yards.
Royal, a second-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech, was featured in the offense from the start, running the ball twice and catching a pass in the first four plays from scrimmage. He capped the opening drive by getting behind cornerback DeAngelo Hall and safety Gibril Wilson and catching a 26-yard pass from Cutler on a third-down rollout.
"You dream about it and you hope you can come out and play this well, but the main thing is we won," Royal said. "It was a great feeling, especially in the stadium against our rivals. Our game plan was to attack. We knew we had a lot of weapons and Coach drew up a great game plan. We just wanted to keep the pressure on them."
Royal caught three passes on the Broncos' third scoring drive, drawing two personal fouls from Hall along the way to set up the first of two touchdown runs by Michael Pittman to make it 17-0.
Cutler put the game away with a 48-yard TD pass to Jackson in the third quarter and Selvin Young added a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth.
"Nobody has been giving us a chance since before the season started," cornerback Dre' Bly said. "They keep picking the Chargers and the Colts and the Pats, and that's what we want. We want to shock the world."
Former Hawaii standout Ashley Lelie caught an 8-yard TD pass from Russell in the fourth quarter. Lelie finished with three catches for 37 yards.