By Steve Corkran
Sunday, October 27th, 2013 at 6:33 pm in Oakland Raiders.
OAKLAND – In a span of 14 seconds, Terrelle Pryor turned an inauspicious start by the Raiders on Sunday into a tone-setting touchdown with a run for the ages.
Pryor took the snap from center, faked a hand-off to running back Darren McFadden, rolled to his right, turned the corner and sprinted 93 yards for the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in NFL history.
That play propelled the Raiders to an early lead that they parlayed into a 21-18 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Coliseum. It also brought about a wide range of perspective on a play that seemed rather innocuous at first.
Center Stefen Wisniewski had his face buried in the body of nose tackle Steve McClendon, thinking he cleared a crease for McFadden.
“I heard the crowed cheering, I kind of looked at D-Mac and he looked like he was 5 of 6 yards downfield,” Wisniewski said. “I was like, ‘Are we that excited about a 5- or 6-yard gain?’
“Sure enough, I look up and Pryor’s at the 50 with no one around him and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s why they’re cheering. Sweet.’ ”
By the time Wisniewski and many others realized what transpired, Pryor had more than 5 yards on the nearest Steelers defender en route to an untouched romp into the end zone.
Left offensive tackle Khalif Barnes was fixated on Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, doing his part to help spring McFadden for a sizable gain. Or so he thought.
“I see D-Mac come out the hole next to me … then I hear the crowd erupt,” Barnes said. “It’s always a good feeling when you hear the crowd erupt because you know something big is happening.”
The play was a read-option, where Pryor is assigned to give the ball to McFadden or keep it, depending upon how outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley reacts to the prospect of McFadden getting the ball.
Woodson “bit hard,” according to Wisniewski, which left Pryor with one fewer defender to worry about on the right side of the Raiders line.
All that remained were for right offensive tackle Matt McCants to seal the edge and wide receiver Rod Streater to seal off strong safety Troy Polamalu.
“I decided to hit my guy as hard as I could,” McCants said, still expecting the ball to go to McFadden. “The next thing, I looked up and T.P. was in the end zone. So, I was like, that’s a good sign.”
Streater saw the play unfolding, and he knew he had the ability to turn a short gain into a long one.
“I just knew I had to get outside leverage on Polamalu and seal him off,” Streater said. “He just (read) my block right, cut up and made a great play.”
Next thing he knew, Streater said, Pryor was on his way to what he called the longest run of his football career, at any level.
“Man, anytime he gets around the edge, it can be a House Call because he’s so fast,” Streater said. “It was just a great call, a great play and a great read by him.”
Pryor said he doesn’t recall seeing so much room to run on such a play call.
“I saw (Woodley) biting,” Pryor said, “and I was like ‘jeez.’ … I came out (wide), Rod made a phenomenal block, and it was off to the races.”
The Raiders worked on this play “for a while,” Barnes said. Still, no one was quite sure how it was going to work out or that it was going to be called on the first play of the game.
Raiders veteran safety Charles Woodson watched from the sideline and said Pryor “faked me out,” and he didn’t realize what happened until Pryor was at midfield.
Even McFadden wasn’t quite sure if he was getting the ball or not.
“I didn’t know if he was going to keep it or not,” McFadden said. “He just so happened to pull it (back) and he smoked around the end for 93 yards. …Once I went (into the line) and guys kind of grabbed me, I heard the crowd roar and I looked up. He was just gone.”