Raiders vs. Broncos: Takeaways from Oakland's 37-21 Loss to Denver
Terrelle Pryor passed for 283 yards and a touchdown, but the Oakland Raiders quarterback also suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s 37-21 loss to the Denver Broncos, putting his status for next week’s game in question.
It wasn’t a very good day all-around for coach Dennis Allen’s team. The secondary was surgically picked apart by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
The running game went absolutely nowhere. Darren McFadden’s best play of the night came on a halfback pass.
Oakland couldn’t return the favor…and couldn’t stop Denver’s three-headed ground game.
All in all, it was a rough afternoon in the Mile High City.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways for the Raiders, 1-2 after three games.
Concussion May Sideline Pryor
Terrelle Pryor had another up-and-down game. He got off to a slow start, and Oakland’s offense went three-and-out six of the first seven times they had the ball as a result. He did warm up as the game went along and made some nice throws on the touchdown drive in the third quarter.
The final numbers were decent: 19-of-28, 281 yards and one touchdown with a passer rating of 112.4. He was also sacked three times.
All of that didn’t matter after Pryor took what appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet hit by Denver linebacker Wesley Woodyard. Pryor immediately collapsed face down on the turf, and although he stayed in to finish the drive, he was taken to the locker room before the end of the game and diagnosed with a concussion.
Pryor will have to go through the concussion protocol rules before getting clearance to practice. He has not been ruled out, however.
Matt Flynn, Pryor’s backup, completed a 19-yard throw to set up Darren McFadden’s one-yard touchdown run.
Pass Rush Was Not Enough
Peyton Manning is tough enough when facing a defense that can put some sort of pressure on him. On a day when Oakland’s defense barely laid a hand on him, Manning was almost perfect.
The Raiders went into the game leading the NFL in sacks, but only sacked Manning once, when defensive end Lamarr Houston drilled the Denver quarterback and knocked the ball from his hands in the third quarter.
Beyond that, Oakland put very little pressure on Manning. They had just two hurries and were lucky to even get close to him.
It’s no wonder Manning put together one of the finest performances of his stellar career. Using his patented quick release to repeatedly find open receivers, he completed 32 of 37 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns.
Offensive Line Didnt Give McFadden Room to Run
Darren McFadden rushed for nine yards on 12 carries. It’s the fewest yards he’s had in any NFL game in which he’s had at least 10 carries.
That will give a lot of the critics something to jump on, but the problem against Denver was more with Oakland’s offensive line than it was with McFadden. Time after time, he was nailed by a defensive lineman or linebacker who was left unblocked, allowing the Broncos defense to take repeated free shots at the Raiders running back.
He did have a hand in each of the two second-half touchdowns by Oakland. He made a nice play to avoid getting hit on halfback option, then fired a perfectly thrown 16-yard touchdown to fullback Marcel Reece in the third quarter. He also scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter when he dove and hit the pylon with the ball.
It’s never a good thing, however, when a running back’s best play of the night is a pass.
Denarius Moore Finally Showed Up
The Raiders were on the verge of getting completely blown out in the first half when wide receiver Denarius Moore caught a short pass from Terrelle Pryor, broke a pair of tackle attempts near midfield, then sprinted untouched the rest of the way into the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown.
Moore finished with his most productive day since the second game of his rookie season in 2011. He caught six passes for 124 yards.
Denver did a good job of limiting Rod Streater’s effectiveness (three catches, 42 yards), so it was good for Oakland to see Moore step up after he had only one 100-yard game all of last season.
Prior to his breakout performance, Moore had caught just five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown in two games.
Burnett's Day Overshadowed by 1 Play
Linebacker Kevin Burnett tied Charles Woodson for the team lead with 10 tackles, and he also had a forced fumble. Yet, the one play that stood out the most was his missed tackle on Julius Thomas’ touchdown reception in the second quarter,
Thomas took a short out pass near the sidelines from quarterback Petyon Manning and had to turn back to catch the ball. Burnett came charging in and appeared to be in position to bring Thomas down easily. Instead, he took a bad angle trying to get to Thomas, who used a fairly simple move to juke Burnett on his way to a 13-yard score.
It wasn’t easy for Oakland’s other two linebackers either. Nick Roach made seven tackles, but whiffed on one attempt at a Denver running back in the first half. Kaluka Maiava had three tackles.
Ford May Be Warming Up
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford had a pretty modest afternoon statistically. He caught one pass for 15 yards, rushed one time for four yards and returned two kickoffs for a 24.5-yard average.
What was encouraging, though, was to see the way Ford ran when he did have the ball. He continues to show good burst on kickoff returns, something that factored in the decision to cut return specialist Josh Cribbs in the preseason. He showed the same speed on his one catch when he caught a short pass and quickly turned it upfield before Denver’s defense could react.
Ford, most talented of Oakland’s wide receivers, hasn’t had a ton of time to work on his timing with quarterback Terrelle Pryor because Pryor spent almost all of the preseason working with the backups.
King's Punting Keeps Game from Really Getting Ugly
The Raiders offense struggled so much in the first half that it could have gotten really ugly had Marquette King not been around.
King punted six times for a 52.5-yard average that included a booming 66-yarder. His net of 43.5 yards was also impressive.
It had been a tough week for King, who has taken a lot of heat this season as the holder for place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski. The Raiders gave Matt Flynn a workout at holder during practice earlier in the week, but special teams coach Bobby April made the call to stick with King.
Although Janikowski didn’t attempt a field goal, he was 3-of-3 on PATs.
Run Defense Done in by Denver's 3-Headed Backfield
As tough a time as the Raiders were having in trying to stop Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, Oakland’s defense had an equally tough job against the Broncos running attack.
The three-headed monster of Knowshon Moreno (12 carries, 39 yards), Montee Ball (11 carries, 61 yards) and Ronnie Hillman (9 carries, 66 yards, one touchdown) combined to wear down the Raiders defensive line as the game went along. The trio repeatedly gouged the Raiders for chunks of yards through gaping holes up front.
That made it even rougher on the secondary, which had problems, as it was trying to play Manning straight up. With Denver’s running game working so well, it made Manning’s play-action passes that much more effective and successful.