INDIANAPOLIS – The Raiders pass rush was nonexistent this preseason, causing grave concern for the future.
It certainly was early in Sunday’s 21-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, when quarterback Andrew Luck had all day to work en route to a 14-0 second-quarter lead. Luck completed his first 11 passes, but he went cold when the Raiders turned up the heat.
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver cranked up the intensity, brought blitzes from every angle and gave the Raiders a chance to come back.
“It’s oh, so nice when that happens,” safety Charles Woodson said. “It always feels good to see your guys beating them up front. We got after Luck in the second half especially, which certainly helped us turn things around.”
The Raiders had four sacks, five tackles for losses and eight quarterback hits thanks to creative play calling and solid execution up front.
Defensive end Jason Hunter made the Raiders defensive play of the day when he sacked Luck on 4th-and-1 late in the third quarter. He bested his man, crashed the pocket and sent Luck to the ground.
The Raiders took a 17-14 lead on the next drive. Tracy Porter’s 8-yard sack ruined the Colts’ previous drive and, surprise, surprise, the Raiders followed up with a field goal.
“It changes the whole dynamic of what we do as a defense,” Woodson said. “Still, everything we do as a defense needs to be more consistent.”
The front seven missed some plays too. Luck escaped Kevin Burnett’s grasp and ran for 10 yards to convert a third down. Generally speaking, the front seven played beyond expectation.
“I think we were able to get them into a some long-yardage situations, which are more favorable to generating pressure. We thought we could get after them a bit, but we didn’t do so early. I thought we made some good adjustments and were able to apply some pressure as the game went on.”