Lions vs. Raiders: Terrelle Pryor Powers Raiders to 31-20 Victory
The Oakland Raiders compiled over 500 yards of offense en route to a 31-20 preseason victory over the visiting Detroit Lions. Terrelle Pryor took over at quarterback in the third quarter and orchestrated three straight touchdown drives that included a 17-yard scramble for a touchdown and two long touchdown passes to rookie receiver Juron Criner.
Pryor powered the offense and looked like a man among boys against the Lions No. 2 defense, but fans should temper their expectations and any talk of Pryor overtaking Matt Leinart as Oakland's No. 2 quarterback. The performance of the defense and the rookie receivers is what should have the Raider Nation really excited.
Pryor is a very talented player, and he finally had the opportunity to demonstrate this athletic ability, but he has yet to show he's a legitimate passer. A 3-of-5 passing night with 137 yards and two touchdowns, including a underthrown deep pass down the right sideline that Juron Criner caught over the back of the defender, does not count as passing efficiency.
One thing that Pryor has proved so far this preseason is that the Raiders would be stupid not to implement a few special packages tailored to his specific skill set. Pryor is big, fast and agile, and he creates matchup issues for opposing defenses when he is in at quarterback.
Who should be the Raiders No. 2 quarterback?
Pryor is a faster version of Tim Tebow at this point, and for all Tebow's deficiencies as a passer, he did help lead the Broncos to be the top-ranked rushing offense last season. That kind of skill set can be useful to the Raiders in the red zone or anytime the Raiders are trying to take some of the focus off of Darren McFadden.
Red-zone scoring has been an area of concern for the Raiders this preseason. It took the Raiders five plays to punch the ball in for the touchdown from the 1-yard line against the Lions, with McFadden finally sneaking it over the goal line on 4th-and-2. Pryor can help. Just don't expect him to be a great passing quarterback, because he still has a long way to go.
One area where the Raiders have not struggled is at wide receiver, where the team seems to have an embarrassment of riches after drafting Criner and signing undrafted rookie Rod Streater. Criner caught two passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns with the defensive back getting called for pass interference on both plays. Streater continued his impressive preseason with five more catches against the Lions. That makes 18 catches for Streater this preseason, which is one shy of the number of passes he caught at Temple University last year.
Streater and Criner add to what was already a fairly deep group of receivers with Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford. Obviously, not all the receivers can play, but you won't see an offensive coordinator complain that he has too many weapons at his disposal. Heyward-Bey has also shown some improvement this preseason, adjusting to balls in flight. He had an impressive one-handed grab that he caught behind the defensive back against the Lions.
There is some concern in Oakland about Carson Palmer, the man tasked with getting the ball to the receivers. Palmer has thrown four interceptions and no touchdowns this preseason and will not play in the final preseason game. Palmer continues to make head-scratching decisions under pressure that are simple to avoid.
The Raiders might have to rely more heavily on their rebuilt defense if Palmer can't make better decisions. The good news is that the defense has looked good this preseason, and the first-team defense has allowed only two touchdowns this preseason. Neither touchdown drive the Raiders have allowed were longer than 60 yards, and one was a short 23-yard drive after a Mike Goodson fumble.
Calvin Johnson, Mathew Stafford and the rest of Detroit's offense carved up the Raiders last season. It was a good sign that the Raiders were able to take away Johnson and limit Stafford.
Taiwan Jones got his first action of the preseason and rushed five times for 50 yards. He looks fast and will likely be the primary backup to McFadden this season.
Reserve defensive lineman Jamie Cumbie batted down several Kellen Moore passes and had a sack in the second half. He will have to repeat his performance next week to give himself a shot at the 53-man roster as a fourth defensive tackle.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski left the game with a groin injury, and Eddy Carmona hit a 53-yard field goal from the infield dirt. Carmona will likely stick around for a while to let Janikowski heal.
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