Raider Nation, hold your sleep-deprived heads high. Once again the Boys in Black have defeated their rivals the San Diego Chargers. The late start at O.co Coliseum proved to be an entertaining and interesting game to watch. There were plenty of positives, and some negatives which had people biting their fingernails towards the end of the contest.
Positive: Terrelle Pryor played like a man possessed
If anyone had any doubt, let me clear it up for you: Terrelle Pryor is clearly the man in Oakland. After taking the field for the first time since his concussion against the Denver Broncos, Pryor made quick work of getting on the board.
After the interception by Usama Young, Pryor stepped up to the line of scrimmage and heaved a 44-yard strike to Rod Streater to get Oakland on the board immediately. Following that play, He decided that he was going to complete 10 passes in a row, score 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions before having a pass hit the ground and falling incomplete. During the rest of the game, Pryor did what he does best by extending plays and making a gain out of an extremely broken situation. Upon further review of the quarterback’s stat sheet, he ended up grading out at a 97.6 QB rating, improving from an 86.7. So obviously having their starting quarterback back in the mix has put Oakland in a position to win games and progress through the season.
Negative: Having Andre Gurode at Center seemed to be giving Pryor some problems.
Andre Gurode had to step it up this week and play Center for the injured Stefen Wisniewski. Unfortunately for Pryor, there were a couple instances of Gurode shifting left to shore up that side of the line and tripping the quarterback in the process. Now, this may just be a case of unfamiliarity or a break-down in mechanics, but there were a couple plays that were broken before they even had the opportunity to develop.
On two separate instances, Pryor took the snap and was tripped up at the line before he even had the opportunity to turn and make a play. This forced him to have to scramble, run, and try to adjust the entire play on the fly. Getting Wisniewski back in the next couple of weeks could provide some relief in this department, but as for last night, Gurode and Pryor were just slightly off and it made things a little more difficult for the quarterback.
Positive: The Defense really stepped it up when it mattered most.
The defense knew they had to come out and produce last night. They had to come out and be physical at the point of attack, and limit how much run offense the Chargers could manufacture. Everyone has been commenting on how the defense isn’t producing any turnovers up until last night.
Well, last night they brought in 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries, one of which being Charles Woodson‘s 13th career defensive touchdown. Yes, Mr. Woodson reeled in 1 of the 3 interceptions last night and ran in a recovered fumble for a touchdown, looking like the player that Oakland drafted in the first round all those years ago. The other two interceptions came from Usama Young and DJ Hayden. Hayden recording his first NFL interception, and looking much better than he had in the past couple games. The run-stuffing duo of Vance Walker and Pat Sims made sure that there was very little motion up the middle of the line for a gain. The goal line stand in the second quarter was a testament to how tough this defense can really be.
Negative: The sloppy defensive play in the beginning of the second half, and the frivolous penalties to accompany it.
Even though the defense had a strong showing in the first half and part of the second half, they had some moments that had the Raider Nation biting their fingernails toward the end of the game. The pass coverage was far too soft and they were allowing 20-30 yard chunk passes, easily getting the Chargers into a scoring position. There were times where Philip Rivers had all day in the pocket to throw the ball, and then found his receiver wide open down the field for a nice little gain.
Not only was that not enough, but there were also silly penalties to back them up as well. The one that really stood out was the unnecessary roughness call on Mike Jenkins after he was burned for a touchdown. He let his emotions get the better of him and shoved the receiver to the ground after he was out of bounds. These types of penalties are unacceptable. The Raiders are creating a culture of hard playing, emotionally invested, football players. They do not need to start reverting back to the old days of smashing up a player just because they got burned. Times are a changing in Oakland, and penalties are supposed to be becoming a thing of the past.
Coming out on top with a win always feels great. Coming out on top over a division rival is always better. Getting your defense going and making game changing plays that can translate into future games is priceless. This was a nice win for Oakland, and a definite confidence booster. The positives far outweighed the negatives here, but lets be honest with ourselves, there is always room for improvement.