OAKLAND – Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor took the game’s first snap 93 yards for a touchdown. Darren McFadden scored twice more and then the offense shut down completely.
No matter. The defense never let up. That unit was downright dominant in a 21-18 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon at Oakland Coliseum.
While the offense lost momentum in the second half, the defense never did. The unit shut down the Steelers running game, harassed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to no end and neutralized Pittsburgh’s vertical passing game.
That’s why the Raiders were able to survive despite losing the turnover battle. Pryor threw two interceptions and Jacoby Ford fumbled deep in Raiders territory. The Steelers came away with just one touchdown. Pittsburgh crossed the plane first in the fourth quarter, but Raiders still held a commanding lead.
Mike Jenkins had an interception and later forced a fumbled that Tracy Porter recovered, but the Steelers did not go quietly.
They inched back into the game because the Raiders offense went quiet in the second half, recording just one first down over the final two periods. The Raiders played it safe as the game wore on despite the fact that the running game stopped producing.
Pittsburgh cut it close with a Le’Veon Bell touchdown with 90 seconds left, which wasn’t enough to complete an improbable comeback.
Pryor’s big run: Terrelle Pryor started Sunday’s game in style. The Raiders quarterback was untouched on a 93-yard touchdown run on the game’s first snap, which set a franchise record for the longest run. It was also the longest run by a quarterback in NFL history.
Pryor ran a read option, and the Steelers bit hard on a fake to Darren McFadden. Pryor run though a huge crease, reached the second level and out-ran everyone to score the game’s first touchdown.
McFadden gets going early: Raiders running back Darren McFadden churned out 52 yards on the ground in the first half. He had 56 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, including a 4-yard TD from the "Wildcat" formation.
Rushing lanes weren’t available in the second half. The Raiders had one rushing yard in the third quarter, but McFadden still had a good day. All told, he had 73 yards on 24 carries.
Sio the sackman: Raiders coach Dennis Allen said he hoped to get rookie outside linebacker Sio Moore more involved in the pass rush.
That was the right call. The third-round pick sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice in the first half and was routinely in the backfield on passing downs. Moore was still subbed out in the nickel package, but he made a real impact in the base defense.
All told, Moore had four solo tackles, two sacks and two quarterback hits.
Sitting it out: The Raiders offensive line was woefully thin yet again, with right tackle Tony Pashos, guard/center Andre Gurode and swing tackle Menelik Watson inactive due to injury.
Matt McCants played well in Pashos’ place. The offensive line remained strong despite injury woes and kept the chains moving. Center Stefen Wisniewski returned after missing two games with a knee sprain, and was a major part of the offensive effort.
The other inactive players were predictable. Receiver Juron Criner, recently-acquiredoutside linebacker Martez Wilson, safety Tyvon Branch and defensive end Ryan Robinson also sat out against Pittsburgh.
What's next: The Raiders play yet another home game next week against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are 3-5 after dropping a 15-7 result to the New York Giants.
Philadelphia gives opponents fits with an up-tempo offense, but it’s not quite as good without Michael Vick running the show. He was taken out in the second quarter with a hamstring injury that has hampered him in recent weeks. Matt Barkley struggled in his place. Vick will have an MRI on Monday, the results of which will determine whether he plays against the Raiders.