Droughns was already well on his way to winning that argument.
Jake Plummer and Droughns did little wrong while turning the Denver Broncos’ biggest rivalry game into a rout. On the other hand, Kerry Collins and Oakland’s offense did almost nothing right—and the furious Raider Nation let them know it all day long.
Plummer passed for 190 yards and three touchdowns, Droughns rushed for 176 yards and a touchdown, and the Broncos took command of the AFC West with a 31-3 victory Sunday.
“We never get tired of dominating someone,” said Denver safety John Lynch. “We were talking about it every down in the huddle in the second half: ‘Keep them down, keep them down, keep them down.”’
Jeb Putzier, Dwayne Carswell and Ashley Lelie caught first-half touchdown passes from Plummer, who led the Broncos (5-1) to a 28-point cushion in the third quarter and 444 total yards. Droughns had his second straight 100-yard game, a week after going for 193 yards in a win over Carolina.
His 38 carries were a franchise record for a non-overtime game.
“After my performance last week, I didn’t want anybody to doubt I could do it again,” said Droughns, who scored on a 4-yard run in the third quarter. “They were definitely frustrated. Any time you pound the ball and break tackles, they’re going to get worn out a little bit.”
And Droughns was more than happy to give Sapp and the rest of the Raiders an earful at halftime.
“Droughns had something to say to me,” Sapp said. “You know how it is when you’ve got the lead—to the victor go the spoils.”
Oakland’s Jerry Rice, disgusted with his limited role, didn’t catch a pass for the third time this season and the second straight week. The 42-year-old Rice, who asked for a trade last week, considered this the most devastating loss of his career.
“This is probably the worst one because I felt like we weren’t in the ballgame. We can’t let teams jump up on us,” said Rice, who heard fans chanting “Jerry! Jerry!” as the clock ticked away in the final minutes. “I just hope nobody is basically going to throw the towel in, and we keep working hard in practice.”
Denver’s defense was suffocating, holding the Raiders’ inept offense to 145 yards. The Raiders don’t keep track of negative statistics in their media guide, but it was surely one of the most embarrassing performances in franchise history.
After Denver’s early scores dug a huge hole for the Raiders, the rare sellout crowd booed whenever Collins’ crew took the field. The Raiders hoped returning home would cure their abundance of problems, but coach Norv Turner’s first season is quickly turning ugly after three straight losses.
“It really didn’t bother me,” Collins said. “I understand that’s part of it. When a team’s struggling like we are right now, when the offense is struggling, the quarterback usually gets the blame for it. I’m to blame for my fair share of what’s gone on the last couple of weeks. We just didn’t give them a whole lot to cheer about today.”
Oakland (2-4) was outgained 279-115 in the first half, and the Raiders have allowed 100 yards to the last three backs they have faced.
The Broncos took a two-game lead in the AFC West by scoring the biggest win against their archrival since another 28-point victory in 1997.
Collins added another interception, giving him eight in 3 1/2 games since Rich Gannon broke a vertebra in his neck last month. Gannon could only watch his team’s miserable display from the back of the press box with a hard brace supporting his neck.
The only thing to dampen the fans’ anger at Collins was a steady rain that began midway through the third quarter—it became another excuse for thousands to head home early.
The Oakland defense struggled to tackle effectively, often needing a gang to bring down Droughns. And the Raiders’ secondary got beat all day long.
Putzier scored his first career TD. … Collins was 15-for-31 for 136 yards. … Sebastian Janikowski had a 35-yard field goal for Oakland, which played without hurt RB Tyrone Wheatley (shoulder) for the second straight week.