Broncos try to bounce back after demoralizing loss

DENVER -- The Broncos pledged to do some deep thinking after a demoralizing and disconcerting 45-point loss to their archrivals.

They have a short week to fix and forget an embarrassing defeat in which the Oakland Raiders set a franchise record for points in a 59-14 rout Sunday. The Broncos (2-5) travel to London this week to face the San Francisco 49ers (1-6).

Two struggling squads -- not exactly the prime matchup the league had in mind for an international audience.

The Broncos' egos are bruised and battered after the Raiders pounding, the team apologizing profusely after the game for the performance. Coach Josh McDaniels described their play as "awful," and safety Renaldo Hill called it "disappointing."

"That's the only word I can think of," Hill said. "It hurts. And we've got to stop the bleeding. That's the one thing we've definitely got to do because we've got a game and a quick flight and a change of time and everything, and we've got to be prepared to play next Sunday.

"If not, and we're feeling sorry for ourselves, it's going to be continued pain."

Even former Broncos players were quite disgruntled over the drubbing, as offensive lineman-turned-sportscaster Mark Schlereth tweeted Sunday: "I have lived in Denver since 1995 and I can't remember a more embarrassing showing by the Broncos ever!"

Before the fans were even able to settle into their seats, the Broncos already trailed 21-0.

It happened that quick.

Jason Campbell hit a wide open Zach Miller for a 43-yard touchdown pass during the game's opening drive, and a few seconds later, cornerback Chris Johnson stepped in front of a Kyle Orton pass on Denver's first snap, returning it for a touchdown and making it 14-0.

On Denver's next snap, rookie wide receiver Demaryius Thomas fumbled Tim Tebow's pitch, and the Raiders recovered the ball, setting up Darren McFadden's 4-yard TD run.

The rout was only getting started as the Raiders amassed a 38-0 lead in the second quarter before the Broncos found the end zone.

Michael Bush's 1-yard TD run with 27 seconds left in the third quarter completed the clobbering, making it a 59-14 blowout and eclipsing the Raiders' franchise scoring record of 52 points.

"We know this team can do this," Oakland safety Michael Huff said. "We know that when we play on all cylinders, and go out there and play Raider football ... we can go out there and beat anybody."

But like this?

"We've always played well here in Denver," said Huff, whose team has won three in a row at Invesco Field. "When we go out there and play Raider football, we can play with the best of them."

With three consecutive losses, the Broncos hardly fall under that header right now.

"We get one chance per week to put our name on something for the three hours that we play and coach on Sunday and our name is forever going to be put on this game," McDaniels said. "None of us are proud of it, but we're a part of it, and those of us who are part of the problem are also going to have to be part of the solution. We've got to go back to work and try to fix a lot of things."

The soul-searching begins.

"We've got guys that are going to go back into the locker room, come back and work hard," linebacker Jason Hunter said. "That's all we can do. It's a lesson to be learned. It's a hard lesson."

As big of a blowout as this game became, McDaniels didn't consider replacing Orton with Tebow just to give the rookie more seasoning.

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"That's not really the time that I'd want (Tebow) to get work anyway," McDaniels said.

Tebow understood the decision.

"I was just trying to be supportive, be there and do whatever I could do with my role," Tebow said. "Whatever I was asked to do, I was going to do it."

To beat a division foe so convincingly made it all the more enjoyable for the Raiders (3-4), giving them a renewed sense of confidence.

"We took a step in the right direction (Sunday), but it is still only one win. There's still a lot of football left to be played," Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour said. "But it definitely feels good."

Oakland's offensive onslaught was led by Campbell and McFadden, two banged-up players coming into the game.

Campbell (sore knee) was effective all afternoon, throwing two TD passes and escaping trouble with his mobility. McFadden (hamstring) couldn't be contained, rushing for 165 yards and tallying four touchdowns, one on a 19-yard reception.

An all-around miserable day for Denver's defense.

"(It wasn't) good, not at all. We pride ourselves on wanting to come out and stop their run and minimizing the points and we did none of that," Hill said. "We're going to have to do some real soul-searching here in the next couple of days because if we don't stop the bleeding now, San Francisco is sitting there licking their chops.

"Everyone else in the league is going to be doing the same. We have to be ready to go. We have to find some way to get back on board."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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