ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor rolled to his right, quickly running out of room to play. Denarius Moore hit the sideline first, with his eyes locked on the quarterback. Pryor pointed to the sideline and quickly back, with a head nod for emphasis.
Moore’s route followed Pryor’s gesture, and the ball arrived the moment Moore was truly open.
Using your best Greg Papa impression: Touchdown, Raiders.
The moment meant more that six points. It proved that the athletic quarterback and his most talented receiver were, at long last, on the same page.
“It was just the eye contact I guess,” Moore said. “Last time I did that, I was playing in the back yard with some friends.”
At times, Pryor plays pick-up football, improvisational yet effective. At others, he counts on receivers to do the heavy lifting, trusting that passes sent into traffic will stay with the right colors.
Moore has fallen in line, with both the consistency and talent deserving of Pryor’s trust. It’s produced with 15 catches for 274 yards and two touchdowns over the best three-game set of his professional career. Bonus fun fact: Moore doesn’t have a drop in that span.
The Raiders have been looking for a go-to receiver since camp, but the numbers prove they’ve found one. Moore leads the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
“He’s been more consistent,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “That’s been the thing that we’ve continued to talk to him about, and there’s still a lot for him to continue to get better at. The big thing is having the confidence to play, and when the opportunities come your way to make sure you make the most of that opportunity. He’s done a better job of that in the last three weeks, and hopefully he’ll continue to grow.
While Pryor spreads the ball around and clearly has established chemistry with Rod Streater, Moore has made great progress working with Pryor this season, and is becoming a real threat in this system. Not only is he getting open with greater reliability, he’s making plays after taking possession.
Over a third of his 317 receiving yards have come after the catch. Moore’s been rewarded for consistency and attention to detail and his willingness to go with Pryor’s flow. That’s paved the way for a more, sure-handed, driven receiver.
It’s a quantum leap forward from a Week 2 performance where he was invisible, with had zero catches and one target that was dropped. He was heavily criticized after that Jacksonville game, with the press bearing down and Allen inferring that his confidence had been shaken. Moore responded with hard work, and it’s improved his game and his mental state.
“I’m feeling confidence from within myself and from the team,” Moore said. “Terrelle and I are really starting to click. It started in practice, and now we’re transferring it to the games.”