By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, September 23rd, 2013 at 11:09 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders write-thru, my version . . . with notes at end
The Raiders took a big step up in class Monday night and found out how far they have to go to be a contender in the AFC West.
After Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos shredded the Raiders 37-21 at Sports Authority Field before 76,978 fans, one of the few things they could take solace in was an encouraging performance from quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Except Pryor suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter, didn’t finish the game, and his status is up in the air when the Raiders host the Washington Redskins Sunday after a short week of practice.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen, who said more will be known about Pryor when the club gets back to the facility, saw his team outclassed in all three phases against a 3-0 Broncos team that has won 14 consecutive regular-season games and beaten Oakland the last four times they’ve played.
Beating the Broncos means keeping Manning under control, and in that area, the Raiders failed in falling to 1-2.
Manning was 32 of 37 for 374 yards and touchdown passes of 2 yards to Eric Decker, 12 yards to Wes Welker and 13 yards to Julius Thomas, all of them coming in the first half. The Broncos also rushed for 164 yards on 35 carries as Denver rolled up 536 yards of offense and 31 first downs.
Matt Prater kicked field goals of 53, 41 and 40 yards and Ronnie Hillman scored on a 1-yard run for Denver.
In the first half, Manning was nearly perfect, completing 21 of 24 passes for 264 yards in staking Denver to a 27-7 lead.
“When you fall behind against a team like that, it’s tough to come back,’’ Allen said. “We just didn’t play well tonight.’’
In the second half, the Raiders managed two touchdowns, with McFadden completing a 16-yard pass to Marcel Reece and sweeping in from the 1 on another score when he was looking to throw.
Pryor established career highs with 19 completions in 28 attempts for 281 yards, with a 73-yard touchdown pass to Denarius Moore accounting for the Raiders only score in the first half.
The Raiders also got their first two takeaways of the season on a pair of fumble recoveries, but were never really in the game.
The Raiders dialed back some of the blitzing tactics that gave them nine sacks in the first two games, in part because Manning is so adept at picking them up. A win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chad Henne in Week 2 did little to prepare for the Raiders for what they saw against Denver.
“You know playing the Broncos you don’t have any room for error,’’ free safety Charles Woodson said. “Playing Jacksonville, you have some room for some things and you can make up for it, but with (Manning), you can’t. He’s going to find whatever weakness you have out there.’’
Said Manning, whose 12 touchdown passes in his first three games are an NFL record: “I think guys are doing a good job getting open on time. I think guys have good clock in their heads when to come out of break versus different coverages. Protection has been good, so it gives you a chance to see the field and throw accurate balls.’’
Coming in as the top-ranked running team in the NFL, the Raiders managed just 49 yards on 17 carries and 23 of those came on a Pryor run around left end. McFadden had 9 yards on 12 carries.
“They came in as the leading rushing team in the NFL and our group was the No. 1 rushing defense,’’ Broncos coach John Fox said. “I thought we answered the bell versus the run this time out.’’
FLYNN SAYS HE’S READY IF NEEDED
Matt Flynn made his Raiders debut Monday night in a scenario he never could have envisioned in mid-August.
After starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor was knocked out of the game with a concussion, Flynn emerged from the bench following a Raiders fumble recovery and completed a 19-yard pass to Marcel Reece to the 1-yard line.
The play helped the Raiders get in the end zone one last time in a 37-21 loss to the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field.
“You’ve got to be ready at any time,’’ Flynn said. “Obviously the game didn’t go the way we wanted to. But I got in there, we had good field position and I was able to get it in so we were fortunate in that aspect.’’
Flynn said it wasn’t “the time or place’’ to discuss his demotion from the starting job he held through training camp, but he promised to be ready if the Raiders need him to start Sunday against the Washington Redskins.
Pryor must go through the NFL concussion protocol and be cleared to play.
“I’m always going to be ready,’’ Flynn said. “That’s one thing this team will never have to worry about is me being ready.’’
– Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson believes it would be unfortunate if Pryor were to miss a game at this stage of his development.
“It’d be a big blow. It’s a guy that’s getting his chance, and I think with each week he’s getting a little bit more comfortable,” Woodson said. “He did some good things tonight. So it’d be a tough blow especially for him and his development as a player if he’s not able to bounce back and come back next week. We’ll just see how that pans out.”
– More Woodson . . . the key to dealing with Manning is getting his uniform dirty. The Raiders sacked him only once.
“You’ve got to get to 18. If you don’t get to 18, you know you’re going to have a long night,” Woodson said. “That’s the focal point when you play the Denver Broncos. Got to get to him. Offensively you’ve got to sustain drives to try to keep the ball out of his hands, and if you don’t do that, nights like tonight happen.”
Woodson is now 3-2 in games vs. Manning in his career. He said he was playing on the outside and that Wes Welker simply made a good move to score against him on a 12-yard touchdown pass.
– A 73-yard touchdown catch by Denarius Moore was the second-longest of his career and the 14th since joining the Raiders in 2011. Moore caught a 20-yard pass from Pryor, bounced off two tacklers and raced the remaining 53 yards for the score.
“It was just (Pryor) waiting on me to get open and being able to catch the ball and make a play when the opportunity was given to me,’’ Moore said.
– Raiders running back Darren McFadden found Marcel Reece for a 16-yard touchdown, the first scoring pass of his career.
“It was a halfback pass and we were able to catch them in the right defense and get it off,’’ McFadden said. “I feel like I have a pretty good arm.’’
– Lineabacker Sio Moore was inactive, having not sufficiently recovered from a concussion to face the Broncos. Moore was hurt in an auto accident Saturday.
The Raiders opened in a nickel defense against Denver, with D.J. Hayden starting along with Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins.
– Porter left the game with a concussion and like Pryor must be cleared t play after going through the NFL concussion protocol this week.
– Tight end David Ausberry, a three-year veteran who has been listed as the first-team tight end since training camp began, was placed on injured reserve, ending his season without playing in a game.
The Raiders promoted guard Lamar Mady from the practice squad to the 53-man roster and he was active against the Broncos. Nix has been hobbled by an ankle injury, with Andre Gurode starting Monday night at left guard.
Mady was active over Antoine McClain even though McClain has been with the 53-man roster since the start of the season and Mady was promoted Monday.
Jeron Mastrud continued in his role as the Raiders starting tight end, although it’s been more of a two-man effort with rookie sixth-round draft pick Mychal Rivera playing on passing downs.