Originally published on SBReport.net on Aug. 26, 2012
The Raiders starting offense finally got into the end zone as the Raiders defeated the Detroit Lions 31-20 on Saturday night at O.Co Coliseum.
The Raiders were able to stack up 513 yards of total offense, while holding the Lions potent offense to just 281 yards.
Star running back Darren McFadden was able to put the Raiders starting offense in the endzone when he rushed up the middle and reached the ball over the goal line in the second quarter to give the Raiders a 7-3 lead.
Oakland looked to be on its way to scoring a touchdown on its opening drive but faltered late. McFadden once again showed Raiders fans his explosiveness on a nice 13-yard gain on the left end to start the drive. McFadden has continued to show his explosiveness throughout preseason games.
Starting quarterback Carson Palmer continued to show his trust in undrafted free agent rookie wide receiver Rod Streater, who started the game in place of the injured Denarius Moore. Streater hauled in another five receptions for 56 yards during the contest, giving him 18 receptions for 165 yards in just three preseason games. Streater finished his senior year at Temple with 19 receptions for 401 yards for the whole season.
"He's a player. He didn't come in like he's an undrafted rookie [and] he doesn't play like he's a rookie,” Allen said of his undrafted rookie. “He's special, he's special, and that's pretty obvious. He just wants to get better but there's nothing scared about the way he plays or about the way he prepares. He's not intimidated by going with the ones and getting a start out of a senior year where he caught 15 or 19 balls, whatever it is. Just a ton of upside and I can't wait to keep working with him."
Oakland was well on its way to its first touchdown when McFadden rushed for another seven yards to give the Raiders a 3rd and three at the Detroit 14 yard line, but a false start penalty by guard Mike Brisiel forced a 3rd and 8. The screen to McFadden came up a yard short and the Raiders were forced to settle for a 30-yard field goal attempt, which Sebastian Janikowski missed wide left.
McFadden’s one-yard touchdown rush in the second quarter came on a 4th and goal play from the one-yard line after the team failed to get the ball in the end zone four plays in a row, including a play where tight end Brandon Myers drew a pass interference penalty on the defense in the end zone.
The referees originally ruled McFadden’s run resulted in a turnover on downs before head coach Dennis Allen called a challenge which showed that McFadden did indeed reach the ball across the goal line.
Palmer had a decent day but still finished the day with two interceptions on the stat page. Palmer’s first interception was a result of a bad decision to force a throw on a screen play but found a defenders arms instead. Palmer’s second interception occurred on a nicely thrown ball that should have been hauled in by wide receiver Eddie McGee but was jarred loose when McGee was hit by a defender and another defender hauled in the tip drill. Palmer finished the day 17/26 for 181 yards and two interceptions.
Coach Allen is not disappointed with the play of his quarterback thus far.
“I think when you look at what we did offensively, he’s been able to move the ball but we’ve got to finish as a team,” Allen said following the game. “One questionable decision on the screen play but other than that, I saw some good things out of Carson today.”
The Raiders starting defense continued to play well and as a cohesive unit, holding the Lions offense to just seven total rushing yards in the first half on seven attempts.
The defense also only allowed two field goals in terms of scoring, one coming after the defense held when the special teams allowed ex-Raider Justin Miller to bring the ball back to the Oakland 21-yard line. Oakland’s defense forced a field goal after the Lions were unable to come up with a first down.
The defense got put in a tough position on Palmer’s first interception that gave the Lions a short field starting at the Raiders eight-yard line. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver’s defense allowed them to get it down to the one-yard line, but forced a turnover on downs when linebacker Phillip Wheeler’s coverage cost Lions quarterback Shaun Hill’s pass to be thrown behind star wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
“I was pleased with the way the defense came up in a couple of adverse situations and were able to stop them and really got put on some short fields.”
The defense was able to keep Johnson out of the game as he was limited to just one reception for seven yards, a staunch improvement over the nine receptions for 214 yards and two touchdowns in the two teams regular-season contest last December.
“He’s an explosive player and it really only takes one shot for him so you better be on your toes the whole game long as long as he’s in there,” Allen said of “Megatron”. “I thought our guys understood what the game plan was going in and we were able to take Calvin away. That limits some of their explosiveness on offense.”
Running back Taiwan Jones returned to the field for the first time since last season, as he’s been hampered by a hamstring injury for much of training camp. Jones looked every bit explosive as he did before the injury. Jones finished with 50 yards on ten carries.
“He did some nice things. He was explosive. He’s obviously really fast,” Allen said of Jones. “He had a real nice run where even though they got penetration, he cut back and was able to get around the defense. That’s one of the things he gives you is he does have some real speed and so his ability to get on the edges is good for us.”
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor showed his play-making ability when he spelled Palmer when he started the second half.
After fumbling a snap, Pryor found a seam when he scrambled right and ended up scampering down the right side for an explosive 59-yard run, eventually being brought down by the last cornerback between him and the end zone.
Pryor was able to find the end zone just two plays after when he scrambled again for a 17-yard touchdown run that put the Raiders up 17-13.
But Pryor didn’t only do it with his feet, hooking up with rookie wide receiver Juron Criner for a 39-yard touchdown pass and a 76-yard touchdown pass. Criner made a great leap to catch the ball over a defender on the 39-yard pass when the ball was underthrown, but Pryor put the ball on the money on the other touchdown connection while rolling out to his right. Criner made a nice fingertip catch and evaded the defender as he scampered the rest of the way untouchded for his second touchdown of the night.
Pryor finished the night 3-5 for 137 yards with five rushes for 90 yards. Criner finished with his best game of the preseason with two receptions for two touchdowns and 115 yards.
Although Pryor had a stronger outing, he knows there is always room for improvement.
“You’re never good enough. I’ve said in an interview about three months ago that I wanted to get 100 percent better every day and that’s all that I strive for,” Pryor said following the game. “Coach [Al] Saunders comes up to me every day and asks me ‘are you going to get 1 percent better, let’s make it 2 percent something like that. That’s all that I’m pushing for: to get better. I talk to you guys about footwork and I want to get 1 percent better with that. When [the times comes one day] I’m going to be 100 percent ready.”
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford left the game early with an injury to his non-throwing hand, while kicker Sebastian Janikowski did the same with a groin injury when attempting to tackle Miller on his kickoff return.