Beat writer Jerry McDonald doled out his grades for the Raiders off their performance against the San Diego Chargers in a 27-17 victory Sunday night. Here are McDonald’s grades and analysis:
Passing offense: Terrelle Pryor’s passer rating of 135.7 was the highest for a Raiders quarterback since Rich Gannon had a 138.9 in Week 3 against Tennessee in his 2002 MVP season. Pryor completed his first 10 passes, guided the Raiders to leads of 17-7 an 24-3 and was 18 of 23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Put a dagger in San Diego’s comeback with a third-and-14 strike to Brice Butler for 20 yards that set up a field goal and a 10-point fourth-quarter lead. Receivers were sure-handed. Denarius Moore had five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Passing game stalled in third quarter.
Rushing offense: Rashad Jennings provided steady gains with 41 yards on 10 carries before leaving with a hamstring strain. Marcel Reece had seven carries for 32 yards playing on a knee strain. Pryor had 11 carries for 31 yards with some nice scrambles but also got trapped for losses. Considering the makeshift offensive line — which held up well — the overall performance was better than expected.
Pass defense: Who said a prevent defense never works? (Note: Not a coach in the league calls it a prevent. It’s called playing ‘coverage’). The Raiders sat on their lead by letting Philip Rivers attack with short throws, allowing him only once (a 51-yard pass to Vincent Brown) to get over the top. Rivers was 36-for-49 for 411 yards, but the Raiders had their first three interceptions of the season (Usama Young, D.J. Hayden, Charles Woodson), the last one putting the game away. Brown (eight receptions in nine targets, 117 yards) killed the Raiders all night.
Rush defense: San Diego had just 19 yards on 32 carries with no gain longer than five yards. Danny Woodhead had 9 yards on 13 carries, Ronnie Brown 11 yards on seven carries and Ryan Mathews eight yards on three carries before leaving with a concussion. Kevin Burnett (14 tackles) forced a Woodhead fumble that Woodson returned 25 yards for a touchdown. Only three of 27 first downs came on the ground.
Special teams: Marquette King punted six times for a 49.5 yard average and a 42.7 net with a long of 64 yards. One of his highest kicks was muffed by Eddie Royal, with Chimdi Chekwa recovering and Sebastian Janikowski converting a 49-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead. Janikowski recovered from a mini-slump with 49- and 50-yard field goals, the latter which iced the game and came off the infield dirt. Nothing special on returns for either team.
Coaching: The game plan of offensive coordinator Greg Olson had the Chargers on their heels to start, first by dialing up a 44-yard first-play touchdown to Rod Streater after a turnover and then a methodical 13-play, 88-yard touchdown drive where Pryor was 7-for-7 — one of the best Raiders scoring drives in recent memory. Maddening as it was to see all those passing yards by Rivers, Jason Tarver’s strategy of playing loose and allowing underneath yards ultimately paid dividends with three interceptions. Coach Dennis Allen had a team ravaged by injury, particularly on the offensive line, prepared to play and win.