The Oakland Raiders took to the practice field at their Alameda, Calif., facility as U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18s roared overhead on a beautiful, unseasonably warm Thursday afternoon. The ominous cloud drifting in from the east wears No. 18 for the Denver Broncos. The AFC West leaders visit Oakland Sunday as the 2nd place team looks to solve the riddle of the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
The Raiders last defeated Peyton Manning in 2001 when he was the signal-caller for the Indianapolis Colts. Manning has won nine straight games against the Raiders, including the last six as a member of the Broncos. He has put up some gaudy numbers, especially against the Raiders, since joining the fray in the AFC West.
Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio faced Manning twice year as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and was the Broncos defensive coordinator for Manning's first three years with the team.
"He's a tough match-up. He's one of the all-time greats and he presents problems. He's like an offensive coordinator with the computer in his head, but he also gets the snap every play. It's a heck of a challenge. A great football player and it will be a big challenge for us," Coach Del Rio said. "I think really it's a guy that's still very much in charge of things. I think they've been the best two-minute operation in the league to start the year, and that's vintage Peyton."
Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., was the linebackers coach for a defense in Seattle that was able to have success against Manning in a Seahawks Super Bowl win over the Broncos.
"He's still pretty good, he still knows how to win ball games. [Peyton] Manning still knows how to get the ball to the right person at the right time. Very smart on the field, very impressed by watching him on film," Coach Norton said. "We didn't show the film, but I remember it vividly. It was just a good day for us. But at the same time, that was another place, another time. We have to obviously make plays, execute and compete on the field against them."
Coach Norton added that beating Manning is a matter of execution and not worrying so much about Manning's pre-snap histrionics.
"It's a matter of execution. You have to do well at what you do. At the same time you can't get too caught up in what he's doing and you can't even execute your own defense," Coach Norton said. "It's important that we know what we're doing and we do it very well."
A victory against the Broncos could not only go a long way in determining the outcome of the AFC West this season, but it would also be one more demon exorcised for Coach Del Rio and the Raiders as well.
Defensive lineman C.J. Wilson, defensive end Justin Tuck, safety Charles Woodson and wide receiver Michael Crabtree returned to practice today. Wilson has been out of action since the win in Cleveland in Week 3.
Song of the Day
The iconic Marvin Gaye – Got to Give it Up, heard during the stretching period. Lest we not forgot this fabulous singer who was taken from us way too soon.