FB Marcel Reece beats the Broncos defense in the 2010 home game versus Denver. Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders host the Denver Broncos in the teams' second meeting of the 2011 NFL Regular Season. After a loss in the division to the Kansas City Chiefs and a bye week, the Raiders are eager to get back on the field and face an AFC West rival. "We're feeling really great," said DE Trevor Scott. "We've got a lot of our guys back and we're just ready to roll man. We're excited about the Broncos at home and we've just got to get this win. First place in the division – three-way tie, so we control our own destiny. It's up to us."
The Raiders enter Week 9 well-rested after the bye week and are ready to get back on track after the Week 7 loss to the Chiefs. "We're hungry," said C Samson Satele. "Before the bye week, we lost. We got our butts kicked 28-0, so we're hungry for a victory."
Having the opportunity to clear their minds and refresh their bodies, the players are looking forward to stepping out on the field in front of a sold-out O.co Coliseum. "I think guys are pretty refreshed," said RB Rock Cartwright. "It was good to get away for a little while and come back. We know that each game now is that much more important. We've just got to focus, concentrate that much more in practice, have a good week of preparation and go out and play on Sunday."
The Raiders will face a 2-5 Broncos team, but are not underestimating their division foe. "I know people don't share the same thought I do but I think defensively, they're one of the toughest teams that we play," said Head Coach Hue Jackson. "They get after it, they have really good players, they play hard, they're well coached, and John [Fox] does a great job.
"On offense, they're going to have his identity which they're going to run the ball. Regardless of who the quarterback is, they're going to run the ball because I think [Fox] truly believes in being physical. I think he believes that that's the way the game is won and I respect that. But, he's done a great job with that football team. I know they wish they had a different record – the record doesn't say that but when I look at the team from a year ago, this team is stronger, plays harder, finishes plays, and they're good."
That Broncos defense is led by DE Elvis Dumervil, LBs Von Miller and D.J. Williams, CB Champ Bailey and SS Brian Dawkins. "They're going to play hard," said Satele. "They've got number 55 back in D.J. Williams, so they're a lot faster I think."
This is a heated rivalry between the two teams and they're ready to renew it. "They're a very tenacious defense," said RB Michael Bush. "They fly around the ball, they'll hit you. As I can recall the first game, they were doing a lot of trash talking. So, I know those guys are going to be ready to play just like we will."
Rookie RB Taiwan Jones acknowledges he'll have to bring his "A" game to be successful against Denver. "They definitely swarm to the ball," said Jones. "They're an aggressive defense that you've got to come out there with your best game."
Cartwright knows that the Broncos, despite a tough loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 8, will come out ready to play. "They're great on defense," said Cartwright. "They're playing real physical on defense – I mean overall, they're playing good ball right now. They had a tough week last week, but I'm sure they'll be coming here with energy ready to bounce back so we'll be ready."
Offensive coordinator Al Saunders is also keenly aware of Denver's defensive capabilities. "They like to sack the quarterback," said Coach Saunders. "Those two guys coming off the edge are pretty good and their corners are outstanding. They've got an outstanding defense. They play hard, they're very, very well coached, they get to the right spots, and the effort that those guys, the front seven, utilize is tremendous and Brian Dawkins is a sage veteran back there that gets the secondary in the right place. When they have all their people healthy and they're playing like they're capable of playing, they're a very good defensive football team."
The Raiders defense will be facing a Broncos offense led by QB Tim Tebow. "They want Tebow to play," said Scott. "That's just one game. I mean I'm sure they came to the meeting rooms Monday morning, were fired up and ready to get things corrected. So, they're going to play with a chip on their shoulder coming to us this week and they're going to try to get him going early. We've just got to stay with our fundamentals and shut them down."
As much as the Raiders will be focusing on Denver's passing game, they are still most determined to stop the run. "They do a couple of different things with Tebow in there," said S Chinedum Ndukwe. "Obviously, we've got to stop the run and put them in passing situations. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is stopping the run."
The Raiders did not face Tebow when they traveled to Denver in Week 1. Despite the switch under center, the Raiders defense feels they will be facing a similar Broncos offense. "The offense is obviously going to change with the new quarterback so they've got some new designed runs for him and probably some things they're going to do in the passing game that they're going to try to play to his strengths," said DL Desmond Bryant. "But for the most part, it's the same team. The O-line is still the same, the receivers are still the same, and the running backs are still the same. For the most part, it's the same team but there are a few new wrinkles. We've seen everything and we're going to try to work to beat them."
The Broncos starting quarterback is aware of the tough Raiders defense he'll be facing. "They're very big, very powerful," said Tebow. "They like to get after the ball carrier and the quarterback. Overall as a defense, they have a lot of defensive speed and even if they're behind they can make up, they can make plays. So you've got to, honestly, be smart with your decision-making and you got to get the ball out quick because you know they'll be coming for the quarterback quick."
The Silver and Black will also be featuring a new starting quarterback in Carson Palmer. Broncos Head Coach John Fox has a great deal of respect for Palmer and believes he'll be ready to go. "I think he has a familiarity," said Coach Fox. "Even though I know he's a new signee, he's been with Coach Jackson,, they spent a lot of time together; they did a lot of good things together offensively. I think the bye week came at a pretty opportune time as far as getting a feel for his teammates. I've competed against him a lot and I have a lot of respect for him."
With the bye week under their belt and the Chiefs game in the rear-view mirror, the Raiders have spent the week focused and determined to forge ahead with the last nine weeks of the regular season, starting with this weekend's match up. "I think everybody had a chance to go home, get some relaxation, take their minds off football, get their bodies' right but we're back and we're ready to work," said Bryant. "The past two days of practice have been plenty of good work and I think we'll be ready for this weekend."
The Raiders will host the Denver Broncos at 1:05 p.m. PT against at O.co Coliseum. Catch the game on CBS 5, follow along on Raiders.com, the Raiders official Facebook page, and Twitter.