ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – It wouldn’t matter if the Broncos’ coaching staff chose to burn the footage of last year’s two losses to the Oakland Raiders by a combined 98-37 score. The players haven’t forgotten.
“You try to block it out, but obviously it’s still there,” said wide receiver Eric Decker.
It was middle linebacker Joe Mays’s first start as a Bronco — a milestone day that he’d rather not remember.
“It’s one of those things where you want to forget it, but it’s still in the back of your head,” Mays said.
“It was one of those days where nothing went right for us, on both sides of the ball, special teams, as well. But it’s one of those days where nothing went right for us. That was my best recollection of that game. It was just terrible.”
That being said, the Broncos didn’t build a pyre for the Oakland footage of 2010 as they did for the vertically striped socks of 1960-61.
“We certainly watch it. We know what happened,” quarterback Kyle Orton said. “We’re not sitting here crying over spilt milk. What happened, happened.”
One of the many things that happened last year was that the Raiders’ rushing yardage in each game exceeded Denver’s total yardage. In Denver, the margin was 328 yards to 240; in Oakland, it was 264 to 235.
That being said, the Raiders also did reasonably well through the air in those games. Quarterback Jason Campbell passed for 204 yards and two touchdowns in Denver and added 238 yards and a touchdown in Oakland eight weeks later. Shutting down at least half of the Oakland offense would be a start — and with the Broncos’ improved pass rush likely to take care of that, the run defense is back under the gun.
“It’s one of those things where we try to force a team into being one-dimensional. When I say that, force them into passing the ball, force them into passing situations,” Mays said. ”
“First or second down, we know the Raiders or any NFL team that likes to run the ball, see where they can start, and once we do that, we try to put them in pass situations and then try to attack them from there.”
The personnel will be different from last October. Mays, Champ Bailey and Kevin Vickerson are the only starters from that day expected to start Monday. Two other starters from Oct. 24 — Jason Hunter and Mario Haggan — are expected to rotate in as backups, although in different roles from the ones they held in last year’s 3-4 defense.
“This is the new year. A lot of different pieces, a lot of different things that we’re doing,” Haggan said. “I think we built some things in training camp and I truly think it’s going to carry over starting Monday night.”