Raiders defend early lead, defeat Chargers 27-17

Starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor returned to the Raiders roster and his impact on the offense was felt immediately, even with the rarely late 8:35 p.m. PST kickoff time Sunday night.

WR Rod Streater hauls in the deep touchdown pass on the Raiders first offensive play

WR Rod Streater hauls in the deep touchdown pass on the Raiders first offensive play

On the Raiders first play from scrimmage, Pryor dropped back and dropped in a perfect ball down the right sideline to wide receiver Rod Streater for a 44-yard touchdown to give the Raiders the early 7-0 lead.

Of course, the touchdown wouldn’t have been possible without the Raiders defense recording its first interception of the season. On 3rd and 10, Rivers dropped back and attempted to find his receiver Eddie Royal deep down the seam of the field but couldn’t connect as Raiders safety Usama Young was able to come down with the interception.

Turnovers played a huge part in the Raiders 27-17 victory as the Raiders forced five Chargers turnovers: three interceptions, one fumble recovery for a touchdown, and a muffed punt recovery. Meanwhile, the Raiders had zero turnovers.

Pryor’s touchdown on his first throw was just the beginning of his hot start. In fact, Pryor would hit on his first 10 pass attempts en route to finishing the first half 13/18 for 141 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

The Raiders second offensive series would see similar results as their first as offensive coordinator Greg Olson continued to call a solid game plan with a 13-play, 89-yard touchdown drive. Pryor, who was 7/7 on the drive, capped the drive off by scrambling to his right and remaining patient enough to find his other wide receiver Denarius Moore in the corner of the end zone for the two-yard touchdown pass to give Oakland the 14-0 lead.

The Raiders defense continued to hold while the offense was clicking. In their bend-but-don’t-break fashion, the defense was able to hold the Chargers on the goal line after Rivers drove the Chargers offense 79 yards to the Raiders one-yard line. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy elected to go for it on fourth down and called a draw to running back Danny Woodhead but Raiders linebacker Kevin Burnett met him in the hole to stop him dead in his tracks and give the Raiders the ball on the turnover on downs.

Though the offense was unable to capitalize and was forced to punt, all the bounces were going the Raiders way at that moment. The usually sure-handed Ryoal muffed Marquette King’s punt and Raiders cornerback Chimdi Chekwa was able to recover the fumble to give the Raiders offense the ball back. The Raiders would only advance the ball nine yards but Sebastian Janikowski would knock through the 47-yard field goal to give the Raiders the 17-0 lead, the lead they would hold heading into halftime.

But the halftime would give the Chargers a chance to regroup and adjust, which appeared to be beneficial as the Raiders failed to find the same success in the second half while the Chargers found their spark.

San Diego was able to force another raiders punt to begin the second half, giving them the ball back and a chance to finally get on the scoreboard.

After failing to convert a 3rd-and-one, the Chargers kicker Nick Novak came out for the field goal attempt but Raiders cornerback Tracy Porter broke free to block the attempt. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Chargers tight end Ladarius Green was right there to pick up the ball and advance it for a first down to give the Chargers another chance.

Rivers looked as if he had finally gotten the Chargers on the board when he found rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen over Raiders corner D.J. Hayden in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. The officials reviewed the play and found that Allen’s left foot never actually touched the ground until out of bounds, making the pass incomplete. The Raiders would hold on third down, forcing another Novak field-goal attempt which he would make, making the score 17-3.

Raiders safety Charles Woodson scoops up the fumble and returns it into the end zone for his 13th defensive touchdown, tying the NFL record

Raiders safety Charles Woodson scoops up the fumble and returns it into the end zone for his 13th defensive touchdown, tying the NFL record

Though the Raiders offense would have their first three-and-out of the game on the next drive, veteran safety Charles Woodson would be able to make history en route to increasing the Raiders lead. On second down, Woodhead took the ball left but was stripped by middle linebacker Nick Roach as the ball was scooped by Woodson who returned it 25 yards for the touchdown. Not only did the touchdown give the Raiders the 24-10 lead, it also put Woodson in the record book as it marked his 13th defensive touchdown, tying fellow safeties Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the most in NFL history.

Still unable to stay on the field with first downs, Pryor and the offense had to sit and watch as Rivers was able to orchestrate two relatively quick touchdown drives to make it 24-17 with just over 10:00 remaining in the game.

When the team needed it most, just up one score, Pryor was able to drive the offense down the field and add to their lead. The biggest play of the drive came on 3rd and 14 when Pryor scrambled out to the right to extend the play and rookie wide receiver Brice Butler did a great job of returning for the ball down the right sideline to haul in the 20 yard reception for the first down. It was Butler’s only reception on the night, but one of the most important of the night.

Though he has struggled at times this season, Janikowski hit an important 50-yard field goal to make it a two-score game

Though he has struggled at times this season, Janikowski hit an important 50-yard field goal to make it a two-score game

Though the offense would gain little more yardage, it was just enough for Janikowski to add to the lead by hitting a huge 50-yard field goal off the A’s infield dirt to make it a two-score game. The drive also wound crucial time off the clock, leaving just over four minutes in the game for the Chargers’ comeback attempt.

As it turned out, the Raiders didn’t have to rely on the three extra points as their secondary came up big again while Rivers was trying to manage the comeback.

On third and goal from the five-yard line, Rivers looked for Allen again but Hayden was able to make up lost ground to get in front of the pass and haul in his first-career interception in the end zone.

After a quick three and out, River had one more chance to make something happen but threw up a prayer and the ball found the hands of Woodson, who slid down to ice the 27-17 victory and improve the Raiders to 2-3. The interception was Woodson’s 56th of his career, and the Raiders third of the game, after having none in the first four games.

Pryor finished the game with 18/23 for 221 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. Moore led the Raiders in receiving with five receptions for 86 yards and one touchdown. Rashad Jennings started the game in the place of the injured Darren McFadden and rushed the ball 10 times for 41 yards. Jennings did leave the game with a hamstring injury of his own, forcing fullback Marcel Reece to carry out ball-carrying duties to finish the game. Reece finished with seven carries for 32 yards.

The Raiders head out on the road to hostile Arrowhead Stadium to take on the undeafeated Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) next Sunday.


Author: Chris McClain

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