The question I had coming out of the Raiders Sunday night win over the visiting Chargers was ‘Where did that come from?' The Raiders had just one win on the season in which they went most of the game without a touchdown against the worst team in the NFL. Then they come out and put it on the Chargers on both sides of the ball for a 27-17 victory.
The Raiders jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead, held the Chargers scoreless in the first half and with the Chargers desperate to claw their way back, they racked up passing yards but also turned the ball over. In total there were five Raiders takeaways including three interceptions. This after going the first four weeks without a single interception.
In a game like this the Ballers & Busters is usually a bit more palatable. So, enjoy this week's fare.
Things got going quickly for the Raiders offensive. And I mean the very first play from scrimmage. The Raiders got the ball on the Chargers 44-yard line after an interception. Then on the first play, Pryor dropped back, saw the coverage he wanted on Rod Streater and threw a 44-yard touchdown pass. The luxury of throwing a TD pass on one play, in a situation the Raiders didn't anticipate being in, was they could save their scripted drive for the next time they got the ball. When they did, Pryor executed the game plan with perfection. He drove the Raiders down the field flawlessly. On that drive he threw 7 straight completions including a third down conversion and finished it off with a designed roll right which froze the San Diego defense preparing for him to scramble only to have him stop, direct his receivers and throw a laser to Denarius Moore for the touchdown. 14-0. He began the game 10 of 10 for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns with a perfect QB rating.
The Challenge for Pryor was to keep up that level of play the rest of the game, which he was not able to do. However, unlike last week when a 14-0 lead was squandered quickly by the play of Matt Flynn, Pryor still managed to do enough to control the clock and not make big mistakes. He also had no turnovers. He did this while often having to scramble to try and make something happen with pressure in his face. He began the second half with a 35-yard hook-up with Denarius Moore but the drive ended after Moore was called for an illegal touch on what looked to be a TD and a sack on a blitz. Passing to kill the blitz is an area Pryor needs much improvement. He had one other decent drive in the second half that resulted in a 50-yard field goal to put the Raiders ahead by two scores late.
Just his tackle numbers alone are impressive. He led the team with 14 combined tackles (12 solo). But that doesn't automatically mean he had a great game. In fact, six of those tackles came on catches he gave up. No, the numbers don't tell the story. Stats lie. So, let's get to the meat of it.
His first play wasn't even a tackle. On a play on the Chargers' second drive, he cut off the outside edge which forced the running back inside where he was tackled for minimal gain. His second tackle was on a catch he gave up to Antonio Gates (most of them were), but he stopped him well short of the first down to force a punt. He had three tackles on the Chargers' next drive, the last two were both run stuffs. The final run stuff was with the Chargers at 4th and goal at the one yard line. He was the sole line of defense to plug the hole and met the runner head on to stop him for no gain and the Raiders took over on downs. Huge play by Burnett to keep the Chargers scoreless.
On the first drive of the third quarter, he sacked Phillip Rivers for an 11-yard loss. The next drive ended when he came up to hit Danny Woodhead at the line and stripped the ball out where it was returned for a Raiders touchdown and a 24-3 lead. The fourth quarter was a rough one for Burnett. He gave up several catches to Antonio Gates, was out of position on the Chargers' first touchdown. But the damage had been done already and Burnett was a big part of that. Gates is gonna get his and Phillip Rivers is going to find his best weapon and Burnett was the unlucky sod given the job of trying to stop it. Outside of that All Pro connection, Burnett had a tremendous game.
The Chargers turned the ball over ton their third play of the game. The two plays before that went nowhere because of Lamarr Houston. He stuffed the run for a 2-yard gain on first down and then took those two yards away on the next play when he stuffed Woodhead for a two-yard loss on a short pass. The Chargers were then in third and long and Rivers threw his first interception. On the following series, he got pressure on Rivers and hit him as he threw for an incompletion. On a drive in the second quarter, he had a run stuff and a few plays later, sacked Rivers on third down for a loss of nine yards to end their last chance of scoring before the half. On the Chargers' first drive of the second half, he had another run stuff and another hit on Rivers to force an incompletion. He finished second on the team in solo tackles (6) and fourth in combined tackles (7) to go along with a sack, two tackles for loss, and a QB hurry.
The key to the Raiders winning most any game this season is turning the ball over. Charles Woodson was part of two of those turnover today. The first came in the third quarter when he recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. It was the 13th defensive touchdown of his career which ties an NFL all-time record. The second turnover was the final play in the game that mattered. He picked off Phillip Rivers on his last ditch comeback attempt to seal the victory with :45 seconds remaining.
We continue to very defensive feel to the Ballers & Busters with the Raiders' middle linebacker. Roach hit double digits in tackles in this game with 12 combined tackles which would be good for the team lead most weeks. Roach made his first play when he cut off Eddie Royal's route on the third play of the game which allowed Usama Young to run under and intercept the pass that went where Royal was supposed to be. Then on the ensuing drive, he had two run stuff tackles. Later he teamed up for with Houston for a tackle for loss with the Chargers at the 2-yard line.
Denarius Moore, Rod Streater
Something Streater has been doing much of this season is getting open for Terrelle Pryor and working his way back to him when he is scrambling. Denarius has picked up on this as well and the result has been some nice receptions. The two of them are showing themselves to be very much worthy of the top receiver spots on this team.
Streater got this started off when he caught the opening pass for a 44-yard touchdown. On the second drive, it was Denarius' turn to get into the act. He had three of the biggest catches of the day on that drive. First he caught an 11-yard pass on third and 3 in which he shielded off the defended like he was catching a basketball in the post. Next play he caught a short pass and broke out for 17 yards. Two plays later, Streater laid a key block on a Jacoby Ford catch in the flat to help him pick up 10 yards and the first down. A few plays later, he finished it off by getting open in the back corner of the endzone for the touchdown catch.
On the next drive Streater had a drive saving catch on third and five in which he leapt to pull down a pass right at the sticks.
Just like the first play of the game for the Raiders offense, the first play of the second half was a long reception. This time it was Denarius Moore on the receiving end for 35 yards and he made the catch with the defender's arm chopped down on his forearms. Despite being called for pass interference, Moore still pulled it in and the Raiders were in business at the San Diego 36-yard line. Two plays later, Pryor went to Moore again on what looked to be a touchdown but it turned out Denarius had stepped out of bounds so it was an illegal touching. Following a sack, the drive ended with a punt instead of a field goal.
Walker had more solo tackles in this game (3) than he had in the previous four games combined (2). He held up considerably well against the run, holding the Chargers to just 32 total yards on the ground and an average of 1.7 yards per carry. The Chargers all but abandoned the run in this game. After 13 attempts in the first half, they had just six in the second half.
Dennis Allen, Greg Olson, Jason Tarver
These three worked the game plan very well against the Chargers attack. Dennis Allen knows Mike McCoy from their season together in Denver and it seemed very much like Allen knew just what McCoy would do but there wasn't any advantage from McCoy's side of things.
Greg Olson showed great confidence in Terrelle Pryor by calling long pass plays to start the game and the second half, both of which resulted in long completions. The scripted drive was also very well coached and executed. It played on some of Pryor's known strengths while adding some surprises to the mix the Chargers weren't expecting.
A testament to Tarver's coaching is just how many different defensive Ballers on here. When this many players are performing well, credit goes to the man who coaches them. The ‘Prevent Defense' near the end of the game was not cool at all but credit to the defense for tightening up at the goal line and then putting the game away with turnovers.
He averaged nearly 50 yards per punt on six punts in this game with an average return of 7 yards. That number is skewed some by a touchback he had. Normally touchbacks are a bad thing but in this case it was acceptable. It was in the waning seconds of the first half where it was better to put the Chargers at the 20-yard line without much time to do anything than to risk a big return. The rest of his punts were great. His first punt came in the second quarter. It traveled 50 yards in the air but hung so long that Taiwan Jones was able to be right on top of Eddie Royal as he tried to field it. King's punts are hard enough to field without worrying about getting rocked as soon as you catch it. The result was a Royal muff on a King punt and Chimdi Chekwa was crowned victorious with the recovery. The result was a Janikowski field goal.
His next punt in the third quarter traveled 34 yards and was downed at the nine-yard line. Then he boomed a 50 yarder that was fair caught at the 20-yard line. The following punt traveled 64 yards but he outpunted his coverage a bit to allow a 21-yard return. His final punt went 53 yards and bounced out of bounds. Pretty good day to be a King.
Mike Brisiel, Matt McCants
I group these two together as the solid right side of the Raiders' line in this game. Not only did McCants not give up a sack or even a pressure as far as I could tell, but they were very good in run blocking. Rashad Jennings' longest run went for nine yards and went through them. Marcel Reece's longest run went for 14 and also went through them. Brisiel is thus far this season living up to his status as a free agent signing last off-season. And how the Raiders keep finding these solid right tackles is really quite amazing.
Marcel Reece - The ever reliable one. He came in after Rashad Jennings left the game with a hamstring injury and it didn't seem like the Raiders lost a beat. In fact, he averaged 4.6 yards per carry which was a half yard per carry better than Jennings did in the first half. Reece did this last year too. He finished this game with 7 carries for 32 yards and 3 catches for 25 yards for a total of 57 yards from scrimmage.
As he finds himself in the between, it was a mixed bag for Porter. Things started out closer to Buster for Porter. He gave up a 13-yard catch on third and 7 on the first drive then another 13-yard catch on the next drive followed by an unnecessary roughness penalty a few plays later and then gave up a 6-yard catch a few plays after that. Then things began to look up. He had a pass defended which led to a sack on the next play to end the drive. In the third quarter he had a run stuff tackle, gave up a 9-yard catch, and then ended the drive with a pass defended on third and one. Then on the field goal try, he blocked it. Unfortunately, the Chargers recovered and then ran for the first down. But there was Porter on the next play for an assist tackle for a short gain. They would get the field goal anyway. That was his day.
Just the highlights/lowlights for Hayden. He gave up a 25-yard catch on third and 12 and a 14-yard catch to set them up in the redzone. Then he was beat by Keenan Allen in the back of the endzone but smartly pushed him out of bounds and Allen couldn't get the second foot down. They settled for a field goal. The Chargers' second TD drive was aided greatly by him being called for pass interference. The next drive he gave up a 16-yard catch as the Chargers drove to the 5-yard line. Then Hayden, after being beat initially by Allen, caught up to him and the ball was thrown behind Allen where Hayden made the interception. He giveth and he taketh away.