DENVER - The Denver Broncos clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a record-setting victory in Oakland. The team's regular season ended with a 13-3 record.
In accumulating their 31 points in the first half, the Broncos set the single-season scoring record and Quarterback Peyton Manning set the record for passing yards. Manning also stretched his record for touchdown passes, reclaimed last week in Houston, to 55.
The Broncos also scored 3 more with a field goal in the fourth quarter, but the Raiders put 14 on the board with two touchdowns -- setting the final score at 34-14.
Manning's 52nd touchdown came at the conclusion of the Broncos' first drive, with a ball caught by Eric Decker.
Just a moment later, the Broncos recovered a Raiders fumble at the 21-yard-line. That led to Manning's 53rd season touchdown, a 7-yard scoring strike to Knowshon Moreno.
Following another unsuccessful Oakland possession, Denver regained the ball and was working through a fast-paced drive when the first quarter ended.
The Broncos were unable to reach the end zone at the start of the second quarter, but successfully set Matt Prater up for a field goal that tied the Patriots' 2007 scoring record of 589 points.
Oakland punted the ball away after their first drive of the second quarter failed to score. That gave Denver an opportunity to set up a huge strike, a 63-yard scoring pass to Demaryius Thomas.
"[Demayryius Thomas'] play was important. It kind of set the tone for the day in my opinion. So it was good to get that lead, and like I said, defense did their part," Manning said.
The touchdown gave the team sole ownership of the single-season scoring record. It was also Manning's 54th touchdown pass of the season.
During the final seconds of the first half, Manning broke another record with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. In addition to stretching the passing touchdown record to 55, it also surpassed the single-season passing yard record previously held by Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
The new record for passing yards is 5,477.
"We've had our goals all along. And this is why you work hard in the offseason. This is why you lift weights and have the offseason program is to give yourself an opportunity to play in the post season," Manning said after the game. "But I'll tell you, it’s a fun group of guys to play with. Offensively, it's been a fun unit to meet with, practice with, watch tape with, work after practice with. And I've really enjoyed the coaches and the players on offense. It’s been a fun group."
"Our goal was to play as good as we have to date this season. And the way it worked out, I thought the first half was about as good in all three phases as we’ve been all year," Head Coach John Fox reflected. "It allowed us to get some guys out of the game as rest them not to risk injury and still take care of business on the field."
Quarterback Brock Osweiler was put in to start the second half for the Denver Broncos, although Manning kept his helmet on as he paced the sidelines. Osweiler's first series resulted in a punt that was blocked, giving the Raiders the ball at the 22 yard line.
Luckily for Denver, the Raiders once again struggled offensively and their field goal attempt went wide.
The third quarter elapsed without either team putting additional points on the board.
In the fourth quarter, the Raiders managed to prevent a shutout with two scoring passes from quarterback Terrelle Pryor. In fact, they out-scored the Broncos who put only 3 points on the board during that quarter.
Still, the lead Manning created during the first half was enough to allow Osweiler to end the game by taking a knee and tick away the final seconds of the regular season.
With a first round bye, the Broncos will next play the team with the lowest seed that wins in the first round. That means they will play either Kansas City, Indianapolis or San Diego.
"We put ourselves in a good spot, but at the same time we've got to get ready for this next season and get these games rolling. It's good to get a little bit of rest right now and then get everything rolling," Knowshon Moreno said after the game.
Champ Bailey said, "Everybody is 0-0 now. There's 12 total teams in this thing, we’re one of them and we've just got to make sure that we're the one who comes out on top in the end."
"It's not easy to go back-to-back 13-and-3's. It's not easy to go back-to-back 1-seeds. Obviously everybody in our building, in our city, probably in our region, maybe in the country was disappointed in how we finished a year ago," said Coach John Fox, in reference to the Broncos' first round playoff loss to the Ravens last year. "So hopefully that's been a fire in the bellies of everyone in our building since that last January."
--Recap coverage from our 7NEWS Sports team, the Broncos and the Raiders using our live blog.