OAKLAND -- The Raiders struck a first blow Sunday that was as stunning as it was spectacular when quarterback Terrelle Pryor kept the ball on a read-option and raced 93 yards for a touchdown.
There were several factors behind how Pryor ripped off the longest run by a quarterback in NFL history, starting with his fake to running back Darren McFadden.
“I saw D Mac carrying out the fake and I heard the crowd screaming and I was trying to figure out what they were screaming about,” Raiders safety Charles Woodson said, “and all of sudden T. Pryor is at the 50-yard line running the ball.”
The Steelers bit on the fake, though left outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley carried out his assignment when he went after McFadden and buried the seventh-year veteran.
That left strong safety Troy Polamalu as the key guy once Pryor kept the ball instead of putting it in McFadden’s belly.
“I was saying in my head Polamalu has to get blocked,” Pryor said.
Wide receiver Rod Streater took care of that, tying up the Steelers’ best defensive player and allowing Pryor to flash through an opening on the right side and into the open field.
Polamalu couldn’t shed Streater’s block, but he didn’t get any help from the back end of the Steelers’ defense either.
“I should have been a little patient in the middle of the field so if things broke down I could kind of overlap,” free safety Ryan Clark said.
The Raiders pulled a guard to help sell a hand-off to McFadden, but the Steelers were also guilty of overpursuing on the play.
“Even if you’re excited about stopping McFadden, you have to understand the beast that’s playing quarterback,” Clark said. “Once a guy like him gets a in front of the whole defense, he’s a legit 4.4 (speed in 40-yard dash). It just looks slow because he’s 6-6 but he was moving.”
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Oakland picked that play to open the game as a way of easing Pryor into action against his hometown team.
Pryor’s touchdown set the tone for the Raiders, who gashed the Steelers for 197 rushing yards en route to their 21-18 victory. But, said Polamalu, “We had 59-and-a-half minutes to come back. We had our opportunities. We just didn’t seize them.”