Editor’s note: This is the final part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Broncos matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Raiders FS Charles Woodson vs. Broncos QB Peyton Manning
Tale of the tape:
Woodson (24): 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, 17th season, Michigan
Manning (18): 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, 17th season, Tennessee
Semi-annual matchups between Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Raiders free safety Charles Woodson have been filled with nostalgia. The pair typically go back in time and discuss the long-past Heisman Trophy presentation where Woodson stole the show. Mutual respect runs deep, for longevity and talent alike.
We’ll skip that angle this time, considering it was written in this space seven weeks back. Let’s focus on a matchup that could/should dictate the outcome of a game where the Raiders are heavy underdogs.
The Raiders are hindered by a lack of quality, experienced cornerbacks, but Woodson and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will try to limit the damage with guile and wits.
[RELATED: Raiders CB Carrie ruled out against Broncos]
They slowed Manning for most of the first half in Week 10, using guarded pressure schemes that produced several batted passes. It didn’t last forever. Manning produced five straight touchdown drives of victory he watched conclude from the sideline after icing it in three quarters.
“I think there are some things that you could take from that ball game,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “I think watching the film from that game, some other people have taken a few of those things and kind of stuck them in their plan a little bit and put their own spin on things. We’d have to change some things obviously.
“He’s too good of a player to just go out there and continue to do the same things, but some of the things that we felt like maybe caused some problems I think you’d see again. They might look a little different, but we might see again.”
Woodson needs to be his opportunistic self in this game, where he’ll be the only defensive back with more than three years experience. He has two interceptions in his last three games, including an important pick against Buffalo.
Adjustments are also key, because what works at one time vs. Manning may not work the next. He has struggled some of late, with six interceptions in his last three games. He sandwiched rough starts with a decent game, though it was in warm-weather San Diego. It’s going to be cold on Sunday, but nothing makes Manning shiver like an interior pass rush.
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will get creative in an attempt to slow him down.
“We can use some of the same principles, with different looks,” Tarver said. “We have to make sure that we’re executing at a high level. Nothing else matters if we don’t execute. That’s No. 1. They’re a super team with smart players, so hopefully we have enough to change the looks and make plays.”