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OAKLAND -- Four days after clinching the AFC West crown, the Denver Broncos took a big step forward in their race for a first-round playoff bye Thursday night, beating the Oakland Raiders 26-13 at the O.co Coliseum.
Peyton Manning threw for 310 yards and a touchdown, leading the Broncos to their eighth straight victory.
The Broncos improved to 10-3 and moved a half-game ahead of the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots (both 9-3) in a battle for the No. 2 playoff seed in the conference.
"You need to get on a run to wrap up the division and to get into the tournament," Broncos coach John Fox said. "Teams I've been associated with, you've got to string some victories together. This team's stuck together and been able to do that."
Next up for the Broncos is a road game at Baltimore, and they'll have extra time to recover and prepare after playing the Raiders on short rest.
"I think the guys are tired," said Manning, who became the second quarterback to complete career 5,000 passes, hitting the milestone before halftime. "You use these next three days to get your mental rest, your physical rest and to get recharged. We've been on a pretty good run. We have some guys beat up and mentally drained as well. These are tough games to prepare for in just a short period of time with a physical game we're coming off of against Tampa. I think we'll use it well. We have a tough test going to Baltimore next week."
The Raiders lost their sixth straight game and fell to 3-10. They were eliminated from playoff contention last week with a loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Raiders are in the midst of their longest losing streak since a six-game skid in 2007 under Lane Kiffin. They lost nine straight the year before under Art Shell.
Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen was on the sideline just three days after the death of his father, former Falcons linebacker Grady Allen.
"Was it hard? Yeah, it was hard," Allen said. "But I know my father would want me to be here with the football team. I wanted to be here with the football team.
"I thought our guys went out and competed. The Denver Broncos were better than us tonight, but we fought."
Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno had 32 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown, much of it with the team in a ball-control mode.
"You do what it takes to win," Fox said. "This was a time game, and we were trying to run some time off the clock. I think that will help us moving forward, have a little bit of a mind-set. I think it was good for our offensive line, all the blocking elements, as well as our running backs to be able to do that to close out a game."
Manning completed 26 of 36 passes and beat the Raiders for the second time this season. Wide receiver Eric Decker caught eight passes for 88 yards, and wideout Demaryius Moore had five catches for 83 yards.
Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer completed 19 of 30 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns. However, he was intercepted deep in Broncos territory by Champ Bailey, killing a promising first-half drive, and he fumbled deep in Raiders territory on Von Miller's strip-sack, setting up a Denver touchdown in the third quarter.
Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater caught four passes for 100 yards, while Darrius Heyward-Bey had five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.
"Each week it's something different," Palmer said. "It's a handful of different things that have stopped us from being successful."
Raiders starting running back Darren McFadden and backup Mike Goodson suited up for the first time after missing four games with high ankle sprains.
McFadden rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries and caught two passes for 12 yards and a touchdown, but he reinjured his ankle late in the game and wasn't able to return, Allen said.
The Broncos led just 13-7 at halftime, but they quickly took control in the third quarter.
Matt Prater capped an 89-yard drive with a 20-yard field goal, increasing Denver's lead to 16-7 with 7:30 left in the third.
On the ensuing kick, Goodson brought the ball out from 8 yards deep in the end zone but was dropped at the Oakland 8-yard line.
On third-and-6 from the 12, Broncos linebacker Miller sacked Palmer and forced a fumble. Denver nose tackle Mitch Unrein recovered at the Oakland 2. Two plays later, Moreno powered into the end zone from the 1, putting Denver ahead 23-7 with 5:07 left in the third.
"Looking back now, I wish I would have just chucked it out of bounds," Palmer said.
Prater's 33-yard field goal put Denver ahead 26-7 with 19 seconds remaining in the third.
The Raiders cut Denver's lead to 26-13 on Palmer's 56-yard touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey with 5:36 remaining in the game. Oakland went for two points, but Denarius Moore caught Palmer's pass out of bounds.
The Broncos recovered the onside kick, ending all doubt about the outcome.
"We would have liked to put four perfect quarters together, but we got some fighters in this room, and I'm proud of what we have done to this point," Bailey said. "We obviously have to look back and see how much better we can be. I think when guys do that, and we do that as a group, the sky's the limit for us."
NOTES: Manning finished the night with 5,012 completions. The all-time leader is Brett Favre with 6,300. Manning got the milestone in 221 games, while Favre reached 5,000 completions in his 239th game. ... Bailey's interception was the 52nd of his career and 34th as a Bronco, tying him for fourth in franchise history. ... Raiders starting defensive tackle Richard Seymour missed his fifth consecutive game with lingering hamstring and knee injuries. Desmond Bryant started in his place. ... Broncos starting linebacker Wesley Woodyard and starting right guard Chris Kuper (ankle) missed the game. Manny Ramirez started in Kuper's place, and D.J. Williams started for Woodyard.