Denver quarterback John Elway, spectacular last Monday night, was simply efficient Sunday. Either way is good enough for Coach Dan Reeves of the Broncos.
"He's the best I've ever seen," Reeves said after Elway guided the Broncos to a 23-17 victory over the Raiders, who have lost seven straight games, at the Coliseum. "I can't say enough about (Elway). If he isn't the most valuable player in the NFL, I don't know who is.
"He just makes big play after big play. He keeps getting better and better."
Said Elway: "I appreciate the accolades, but the important thing is we've got five games left. I just want to play well each and every week and not get too emotionally high. I want to be consistent every game."
The Broncos won despite the performance of Raider running back Bo Jackson. Playing in only his fifth NFL game, Jackson rushed for 98 yards on 13 carries and scored his first two touchdowns as a professional.
"The touchdowns felt good at the time, but it all comes back to we didn't win," said Jackson, who has seldom spoken to reporters since he joined the Raiders Oct. 17. "We know that it's there. We are rebuilding at this point. And Rome wasn't built in a day."
Elway, who ran for one touchdown and passed for another, completed 16 of 29 passes for 298 yards without being intercepted and rushed for 25 yards on seven carries.
Rich Karlis kicked three field goals as the Broncos (6-3-1) remained in playoff contention.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are 3-7 after suffering their seventh straight loss, their longest losing streak since 1962.
The streak could become eight next Monday night when the Raiders plays at Seattle, where the Seahawks have outscored the Raiders 70-3 in the last two games between the teams.
"Obviously, it's disappointing," Coach Tom Flores of the Raiders said. "I've just kind of run out of words to try and explain what some of the reasons are. I thought we played hard. Our guys really tried, but we just fell short.
"John Elway is a tremendous quarterback with a tremendous arm. He's got a great knack for getting free. When he has that extra time, he can drill the ball down the field. And when you can't stop that, you're going to have a long afternoon."
Last Monday, thanks mainly to Elway, the Broncos overcame deficits of 14-0 in the first quarter and 29-21 in the final period before pulling out their 31-29 win over the Chicago Bears.
Denver trails AFC West-leading San Diego by 1 1/2 games. The Chargers fell to 8-2 by losing to Seattle Sunday. The Seahawks are one game behind San Diego with a 7-3 record. The Broncos play at San Diego next Sunday.
Elway scored on a one-yard quarterback sneak late in the second quarter and threw a 24-yard scoring pass to Vance Johnson in the opening period. Johnson had five receptions for 115 yards.
Karlis kicked field goals of 49, 31 and 20 yards.
The Broncos took a 13-0 lead by scoring on their first three possessions.
Karlis' first field goal, the 49-yarder, at 8:45 of play opened the scoring, and Elway threw his touchdown pass to Johnson just 1:24 later, two plays after Michael Brooks recovered a fumble by Raider quarterback Marc Wilson at the Raiders' 24.
Karlis kicked his 31-yard field goal at 21 seconds of the second quarter, three plays after a 54-yard pass from Elway to Ricky Nattiel put the Broncos at the Los Angeles 17.
The Raiders got on the scoreboard at 8:35 of the second quarter on a 35-yard touchdown run by Jackson one play after Linden King recovered a fumble by Johnson on a punt return.
The Broncos responded by moving 82 yards on 11 plays to go ahead 20-7 with Elway plunging in for the touchdown.
Jackson scored his second touchdown on a 1-yard run with 46 seconds left in the half, capping a 72-yard, five-play drive and making it 20-14.
The Raiders narrowed the deficit to 20-17 at 4:31 of the third quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Chris Bahr, but they were was unable to pose a serious scoring threat after that.
The only scoring of the fourth quarter was Karlis' 20-yard field goal with 7:05 left in the game.
Wilson completed 15 of his 21 passes for 173 yards. He was sacked six times by the Broncos.
The win was the first on the road for Denver's regular team after two losses and a tie. The Broncos' replacement team won its only road game.
After Karlis' third field goal, the Raiders managed only one first down before having to punt. The Broncos started at their own 25-yard line with 4:42 remaining and maintained possession the rest of the way. The game ended with Denver at the Raider 20-yard line.
A sack by Mecklenburg forced the fumble by Wilson in the first quarter which Brooks recovered to set up Denver's first touchdown.
Jackson took a pitch from Wilson and began going right on his first touchdown. But the former Heisman Trophy winner who plays baseball for the Kansas City Royals quickly reversed his field, going to his left.
Jackson ran over Denver cornerback Mike Harden at the 30-yard line before turning on the speed and breezing into the end zone.
Prior to Jackson's second touchdown, Wilson completed passes of 25 yards to Dokie Williams, 12 yards to James Lofton and 31 yards to Marcus Allen.
Allen gained 44 yards on 11 carries and caught four passes for 60 yards. Jackson had five receptions for 20 yards.
The Broncos moved 83 yards on 11 plays to get into position for Karlis' third field goal. Elway completed passes of 49, 22 and 17 yards to Johnson on the drive.
Karlis almost had four field goals--he was barely wide left on a 41-yard attempt with 5:05 left in the third period.
The Broncos played most of the game without two key players--safety Dennis Smith suffered a broken right forearm in the opening minutes and running back-wide receiver Steve Sewell broke his jaw in the second quarter.
The game was played before a crowd of 61,318 at the Coliseum.