DENVER — Charles Woodson is 38 and beat up from a long season. Still, he hopes to return for an 18th season â€” if the Oakland Raiders will have him, of course.
Same goes for interim head coach Tony Sparano, who's trusting that his body of work, not this last game, determines whether he gets the full-time gig or not.
Big decisions await the Raiders as they limp into the offseason smarting from a 47-14 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. It's the seventh straight time they've fallen to their AFC West foe.
“That didn't go the way we wanted it to go, obviously,” Sparano said. “Got beat by a good football team out there.”
The win earned the Broncos (12-4) a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
As for the Raiders (3-13), well, their fate was long ago sealed as they missed the postseason for a 12th straight year.
Sparano took over the team after Dennis Allen was fired four games into the season. He went 3-9 the rest of the way, but showed signs of improvement as the Raiders won three of five heading into the Mile High City.
It wasn't the last impression Sparano was hoping to leave with his bosses.
“I don't make those decisions. Those decisions will be made here shortly,” Sparano said. “I just know that the body of work of where we were a long time ago and where we are right now are two totally different places. … I don't know if you can judge that on one game.”
He received votes of confidence from two prominent veterans â€” Justin Tuck and Woodson.
“I think the guys on this team, they actually believe in coach Sparano,” Woodson said. “He did a good job with the guys on a week-to-week basis, trying to get us ready for games, having us prepared as a team. I think he's made a good case (to stay).”
It's clear Woodson's teammates want him back. As Woodson adjusted his tie, a booming voice could be heard throughout the locker room, screaming, “Give me one more year, Wood!”
That bellow belonged to rookie linebacker Khalil Mack, who's been mentored by Woodson.
“Wood is a great player, one of the best,” Mack said.
Woodson said that as of now, he plans on playing again, but the ball is in the Raiders' court.
“The crazy thing is I still feel like I can get better,” Woodson said. “We'll see what happens.”
There aren't many players left in the league from the 1998 draft, but two of them were on the field Sunday. Woodson, of course, and that five-time NFL MVP named Peyton Manning.
Some have been hinting that age is catching up to the 38-year-old Manning in recent weeks, that he hasn't looked as sharp. That's not how the Raiders saw things.
Granted, Manning didn't throw any TD passes, but he efficiently ran the offense as tailback C.J. Anderson scored three times.
“If I play as well as he does at 38, I'll be (darn) happy with it,” Tuck said. “Everybody talks about how he's lost a little zip on his pass. But I don't run a 4.4 no more. That's what age does. He still finds a way to hit his wide receivers in stride.”
Manning finished 21 of 37 for 273 yards. His only mistake was a tipped pass by Tuck that was ruled a lateral. Keith McGill alertly scooped up and raced 18 yards for the score late in the first quarter to make it 10-7.
Really, though, the game never felt that close, mainly because the Raiders couldn't muster much offense. Oakland finished the day with almost as many punts (nine) as first downs (10).
“For lack of a better term, it was not our day,” said rookie quarterback Derek Carr, who was 18 of 36 for 158 yards and a score, but also fumbled and threw an interception.
This play in the third quarter may have been a microcosm of Oakland's season: On a flea-flicker, Carr had Andre Holmes wide open and overthrew him in the end zone.
Or maybe this one: Carr lost the football after being sacked, with Tony Carter picking it up for a 20-yard TD.
“That word consistency continues to come up for us,” Tuck said. “That's something we have to improve on going into this offseason.”
NOTES: Oakland DE C.J. Wilson hurt his hand in the first quarter. … Broncos special teamer David Bruton Jr. was hurt when he was blocked in the back by Denico Autry on a punt return in the fourth quarter. Bruton was carted off the field, but waved to the crowd as he left.