After a 24-3 lead following Charles Woodson’s record tying 13th defensive touchdown in the second half it was a much closer scoreline than expected, but the fans who toughed out a late 8:37 p.m. local time start to fill the O.co Coliseum were treated to the best Raiders performance of 2013 as they bested the rival Chargers on Sunday Night Football 2X.
Pryor threw only five incompletions on the night, but he was at his best in the first half starting the game 8-8 on his first two drives including a bomb to Rod Streater following a Phillip Rivers interception to start off a night filled with big plays from the Raiders.
On the second drive Pryor would march down the field with a brilliant first drive executed by the quarterback and offensive coordinator Greg Olsen. An 88 yard drive that took of 8:08 of clock put Oakland up 14-0 and a Sebastian Janikowski 47 yarder would make it 17-0 for the Silver and Black at halftime.
Oakland once again started out with a bang in the second half, initially scoring on a deep touchdown bomb to Denarius Moore before the play was called back. Pryor was sacked following the penalty on Moore that called back the touchdown and Oakland punted, giving the Chargers their first big break of the night.
They would get another one quickly as a blocked field goal from Tracy Porter would end up being recovered by the Chargers. Rookie D.J. Hayden would come up with some good coverage to keep it a two TD game as Novak kicked a field goal to put the Raiders lead to just 17-3.
It would be the defense that would turn the game into the Raiders favor as Charles Woodson would pick up a Danny Woodhead fumble and return it to the house to make it a 24-3 Raiders lead. The touchdown tied Woodson at the top of the alltime defensive touchdown list with Darren Sharper, but most importantly it put Oakland up three scores. The lead seemed safe, but conservative playcalling from Jason Tarver on defense and poor offensive line play would hand San Diego a lifeline as Rivers marched down the field for two touchdowns, eventually putting the game within a touchdown in the fourth quarter after a Keenan Allen touchdown reception made the score 24-17.
With the pressure on, Pryor found an answer, connecting on a huge 3rd and long attempt on a rollout to his right, hitting Brice Butler on the sidelines to set up a 50- yard Sebastian Janikowski attempt. In the dirt SeaBass legged out the insurance and in the end it would be more than enough.
D.J. Hayden would intercept Rivers in the endzone before Woodson would pick up one of his own inside of the two minute warning as the Raiders would move to 2-3 with a character win that showed just how much Terrelle Pryor means to the Raiders as they beat a significantly better team just a week after losing to the Redskins at home thanks to a day filled with horrors from Matt Flynn.
With Pryor under center it seemed like the Raiders got the perfect storm of big plays and timely third down conversions that have been lacking in recent years in Oakland. The second half might have been sloppy, but when the game was on the line Pryor made a veteran’s play with no pass protection in finding Butler and gave Oakland three much needed points before the win was sealed. With questions swirling all day about Josh Freeman being brought in and the Raiders considering him as a starter, there was no doubt left in the minds of anyone who stayed up tonight that at least for 2013 that Pryor is the Raiders quarterback.
Questions are still left to be answered tomorrow, a poor offensive line and some soft fourth quarter coverage that may have been the result of questionable play calling strategy from defensive coordinator Jason Tarver nearly erased a 24-3 lead in the matter of minutes, but at least for tonight hope filled the O.co Coliseum as a big night from a Raider legend and some career starting heroics from promising youngsters in Pryor and D.J. Hayden will have the Raider Nation dreaming of a season far different than what the experts thought during training camp. With the game ending at close to midnight local time those dreams will be short, but they will be oh so sweet.
- Sebastian Janikowski and Marquette Kings were both huge for the Raiders in the special teams department. King boomed several punts (including one that was forced for a fumble after great gunning from Taiwan Jones) and Janikowski nailed two big field goals from the dirt that were big, especially the 50 yarder in the fourth. After concerns all season, it appears things are improving.
- Rashad Jennings shouldered the load in the first half, giving his all on every run with his chance to be a feature back before falling victim to the hamstring injuries that plagued McFadden last week. The return of one of those two will be vital if Oakland is to compete with Kansas City.
- With Jennings and McFadden nursing injuries, Marcel Reece naturally got more touches and showed why he was inked to a new deal. Expect more and more plays for Reece as the season progresses and the Raiders prepare for a life that may not include DMC in 2013 (more on that later in the week)
- Speaking of Raider UFA’s and new deals. Lamarr Houston needs to be inked soon. Houston continued his run of impressive defensive end play, torturing a banged up Chargers OL to get a sack on Rivers.
- Oakland’s next mission will to get healthy this week. They won despite missing two of their Week 4 O-Line starters and still are missing Tyvon Branch amongst others especially on the line where they are missing nearly a whole rotation of guys who could be starting if healthy. This is a team with undeniable heart and raw talent, but they need all hands on deck soon.