ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos are as complete a team as the NFL has to offer, with Peyton Manning's pinpoint passes and Von Miller's sack-strips setting the tone for a squad that hasn't lost in two months.
Still, there are blemishes for these Broncos (10-3), whose quest for that proverbial complete game marches on through maladies — red zone stalls, pass protection pitfalls, coverage blunders — that could derail their dreams.
As coach John Fox said Friday following his team's latest win, a methodical 26-13 beatdown of the Oakland Raiders: "We still need to get better."
Even though they've won eight straight, they have a lengthy to-do list.
"Each week, there are little things we can tweak and fix," linebacker D.J. Williams said.
To still be searching for that all-around game this time of year is actually a good thing, Manning insists. After all, what good does it do to peak before the playoffs?
"We're still looking for that perfect four-quarter game, 60-minute game. I'm not sure if you want to play it early in the season. I think you hopefully want to find it somewhere in the month of December, maybe going into January," Manning said.
The Broncos really haven't been threatened in any game since their 35-point second-half onslaught at San Diego on Oct. 15 that thrust them into this prolonged tear. They nonetheless keep finding enough flaws to prevent them from getting big-headed.
"It's hard for any team to run on all cylinders," Fox said. "Everybody looks for that perfect game. You prepare for that perfect game no matter what phase. Very seldom do you reach that. We still need to get better. Guys have that mindset. We as a staff have that mindset. And we'll see where it takes us.
"I know coming back after this little break we're playing a very good team in Baltimore. So, it'll be a good measuring stick of where we are."
Even though the Broncos found a ground game to complement their passing prowess — Knowshon Moreno had a career-high 32 carries for 119 yards against the Raiders — there were enough problems popping up to keep the coaching staff busy over the long weekend as they prepare for their biggest game of the season Dec. 16 against the Ravens (9-3).
After scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, the Broncos offense sputtered, turning the ball over at the goal line once and settling for field goals four other times while also scoring a TD on a 2-yard drive following Miller's fifth forced fumble in five weeks.
"Kicking a field goal is not the worst thing ever," tight end Jacob Tamme said, "but there are going to be some times with those drives when we get great field position on offense, we need to score touchdowns."
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas bemoaned the Broncos' inability to finish off drives, which is becoming a nasty habit.
"We've got some things to work on," Thomas said. "We've got a great team coming up, and we've got to work on them a lot, because we need touchdowns, not three points."
The Broncos' final trip into the red zone didn't produce a touchdown, either, but they didn't mind as Manning took three kneel-downs after Moreno carried eight times from midfield to the Raiders 8, forcing Oakland to use all three of its timeouts.
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