OAKLAND, Calif. -- Interceptions, batted passes and a missed open receiver in the end zone. Peyton Manning looked rather ordinary for the first 26 minutes.
That all changed with one short screen pass to C.J. Anderson that turned into a spectacular touchdown and helped make the game a rout.
"Just a truly incredible effort play on his part to take a potentially catch for a loss and turn it into a 50-something-yard touchdown," Manning said. "That really gave us a spark."
Manning threw a pair of early interceptions that put Denver (7-2) in a hole against the NFL's only winless team. Anderson got them out of it when he broke three tackles and weaved through the entire Oakland defense on his touchdown late in the first half.
"It easily could have been maybe a catch for minus-2 yards," Manning said. "Next thing you know he breaks a tackle and I don't know how many guys he made miss."
Manning threw for 340 yards and extended his record with at least two touchdown passes to 15 straight games.
"All week we had a bad taste in our mouths because that Patriots game was definitely embarrassing," Sanders said. "It was something that we don't want to go through again, obviously, in the rest of the season."
Anderson, who grew up in nearby Vallejo and attended college at California, finished with 90 yards rushing and 73 receiving. Demaryius Thomas had 11 catches for 108 yards.
Derek Carr threw for 192 yards on 47 attempts, most of the production coming on a meaningless touchdown drive in the closing minutes. He also had two interceptions. The running game was limited to 30 yards on 15 carries and the defense was completely overmatched after a spirited start.
"They're looking for the gold at the end of the rainbow and it hasn't been there," Sparano said. "We have to stay the course and believe in the things that we're doing and we're getting better as a football team. I know this is not an indicator of that."
The game - and season - could be summed up in one play for Oakland early in the third quarter. Carr was under pressure when he dumped off a pass to offensive lineman Khalif Barnes. Barnes looked shocked when he caught the ball, but ran with it despite an ineligible receiver. Malik Jackson knocked the ball loose and Chris Harris Jr. recovered at the 18.
"There seems to be a play every game that happens to us and then everything kind of snowballs from there," Woodson said. "There were a couple missed tackles, mine included, which I feel like, man, 'I'm part of the play that really turned the game around.' That's one I'll be thinking about all night."
After a three-and-out by Oakland, Manning added a 32-yard touchdown pass to Sanders that put Denver up 20-10 at the half.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press