One week after arguably the finest performance of his young NFL career, quarterback Terrelle Pryor suffered through a nightmarish afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. Pryor threw three interceptions and was sacked 10 times, unraveling in the second half of the Oakland Raiders’ 24-7 loss to the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs.
It wasn’t all on Pryor. The Raiders’ offensive line lost two more starters and completely crumbled under the pressure from Kansas City’s swarming defense. Oakland managed only 90 yards after halftime.
The problems on offense completely offset an otherwise solid day by both the defense and special teams, although Sebastian Janikowski’s struggles continued.
Here’s a look of some top takeaways from the game.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor got off to a fairly decent start, completing seven of his first nine passes while rushing for 47 yards in the first half.
Then it went bad. Very, very bad.
Rattled by a combination of Kansas City’s pass rush and the deafening noise at Arrowhead Stadium, Pryor looked completely out of his element in the second half when the Chiefs took control. The three interceptions were critical and, in many ways, inexcusable.
While he did some damage with his running early, Pryor couldn’t get anything going at all in the second half. The Chiefs did a much better job of not allowing him to get to the edge, then pinned their ears back and hammered him with the pass rush.
Darren McFadden returned from his one-game absence because of a hamstring injury, but Oakland’s running game never really got going, which put even more pressure on quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the bewildered offensive line.
McFadden was held to three yards or fewer on his first five carries and six of the first seven. He finished with 52 yards on 16 carries (3.25 yards per carry) and added another 31 yards in receptions. McFadden did show some spark at various points, particularly the few times he was able to get into the open field.
The problem was that more often than not, he went down at or near the line of scrimmage.
Backup Rashad Jennings wasn’t much of a relief, and once again fullback Marcel Reece was somehow left out of the game plan.
Pryor led the team with 60 yards on six carries.
In the days leading up to the game someone hung boxing gloves in the lockers of most of the Raiders’ defensive backs.
The message? Fight to win at the line of scrimmage.
Oakland’s secondary did much more than that, putting together another stellar effort, one confounded Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith all day.
Smith completed just 14 of 31 pass attempts for a season-low 128 yards. Oakland’s pass rush generated just three sacks, but they still managed to consistently pressure Smith, and even when Smith did have time in the pocket, he couldn’t find an open receiver to throw to.
Tracy Porter played well early, as did Mike Jenkins. Safety Charles Woodson made a fumble recovery following a nice hit by rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden.
Hayden continues to improve and grow with each game, which is encouraging after he missed so much time in the offseason. The first-round draft pick did get hit with a pass-interference penalty, which was a bit questionable. Otherwise he played well.
The Raiders put a lot of pressure on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on Kansas City’s first two drives of the game when defensive coordinator Jason Tarver dialed up a pair of linebacker blitzes.
Rookie Sio Moore was the first to get to Smith, dropping the veteran quarterback for a seven-yard loss on the first play from scrimmage. Moore made a great play when he overpowered right tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and collapsed the pocket.
Middle linebacker Nick Roach sacked Smith for a 10-yard loss on 3rd-and-12 during Kansas City’s second drive. Smith had no chance as Roach came in completely untouched and made an easy tackle.
Defensive tackle Vance Walker got credit for the other sack.
The Raiders still managed to knock Smith around, but they also let him escape a few times and it ended up hurting them.
It’s hard to imagine an offensive line that has suffered through so many injuries and changes in such a short span of time.
Center Andre Gurode, who started two games at left guard and was playing only because starter Stefen Wisniewski is sidelined with a calf injury, injured his knee in the first half and didn’t return. That meant that right guard Mike Brisiel had to move over to center and undrafted rookie Lamar Mady into the lineup.
Right tackle Tony Pashos also left the game, which forced untested Matt McCants into the game.
The results were predictable: numerous false start penalties, breakdowns in pass protection and a general overall collapse.
Sebastian Janikowski’s early season struggles can no longer be dismissed as nothing to worry about.
The Raiders kicker missed another field goal, his fourth in six games, and this time there is no infield dirt to blame it on.
Janikowski missed a 51-yard field goal early in the second quarter that would have given Oakland an early lead. The kick by Janikowski was shaky from the start and looked like it might be headed for the left upright before it fell short.
Head coach Dennis Allen has waved off Janikowski’s problems and has said the issue is a comfort level between the kicker and holder Marquette King. No matter what the issue is, Janikowski is no longer the automatic points machine he was a year ago.
Denarius Moore is slowly but surely getting up to speed, and he came through with another solid-but-unspectacular game, his fourth in as many weeks.
Moore caught five passes for 82 yards and scored Oakland’s only touchdown when he used his athleticism to beat Kansas City’s secondary. Moore ran an easy slant pattern and caught a short pass from quarterback Terrelle Pryor, then he simply outran a host of Chiefs defenders in a race to the end zone.
Over his last four games Moore has caught 20 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns. Rod Streater caught three passes for 46 yards against the Chiefs, while Jacoby Ford and rookie Brice Butler had a reception apiece.
Dexter McCluster was hemmed in by King's punting all day
Call it shades of Shane Lechler.
As rough of an afternoon as it was for the Raiders, it could have been a lot worse had it not been for punter Marquette King repeatedly kicking the team out of poor field position.
King punted eight times for a 51.8 yard average. Included in that was a booming 64-yarder in the first half when the offense was sputtering.
Lechler had to do that for much of his career in Oakland, too. The fact that King hasn’t let his problems as the team’s holder affect his kicking has been a good sign for the second-year punter.
Special teams coach Bobby April also deserves credit for calling a reverse on a punt return that D.J. Hayden took back 22 yards.