The third week of pre-season is usually when the starters get the most playing time of all four exhibition games, as the coaches are looking for a more detailed evaluation of their first string offense and defense. With that in mind, the Oakland Raiders hosted the Lions, taking one more step towards the beginning of the 2012 NFL season.
Raider players who did not suit up for the game: QB Matt Leinart (finger), WRs Jacoby Ford (ankle) and Denarius Moore (hamstring); OTs Ed Wang (shoulder) and Zach Hurd (head); C Stefen Wisniewski (calf); DT Richard Seymour (knees) and LB Aaron Curry (knee).
The Raiders started the game with a Mike Goodson kickoff return to their own 21 yard line. DT Ndamukong Suh made his presence felt right off the bat with a short sack, with a 13-yard rush by Darren McFadden as an answer. Rod Streater, once again running with the first team offense, also hit the ground running with a 17 yard catch, followed by another one for 13 yards. On a 3rd & 6, Darrius Heyward-Bey connected up the middle for a first down, moving the Raiders to the Lions’ 21 yard line. 2 plays and a couple of yards later, McFadden fell short of the first down line in a screen, which led to a missed field goal, wide to the left, by Sebastian Janikowski from 30 yards out.
The Raiders defense had ups and downs on their first drive. Good tackles by Rolando McClain and Tyvon Branch for short gains were neutralized by decent catches by Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler. Also, Oakland was guilty of two offsides (Dave Tollefson and Matt Shaughnessy), helping Detroit reach midfield. And the Lions kept moving, reaching a 1st & 10 at the Raiders 26 yard line. But after 2 stuffed runs by Ron Bartell and Lamarr Houston, and a pass batted down by Tollefson, kicker Jason Hanson split the uprights from 41 yards out. Lions 3 x 0 Oakland.
Rod Streater once again connected with Carson Palmer for a first down (12 yard gain) to open up the Raiders second drive. Mike Brisiel committed his second false start of the game, leading to an incomplete pass on a 3rd & 9. So Shane Lechler got his first punt of 2012, a 41 yard one to the Lions 32 yard line, with 21 seconds to go in the 1st quarter. The raider defense continued to do a great job against the run, but also kept giving up yards on the air, until defensive coordinator Jason Tarver called a blitz on a 3rd down and, with Dave Tollefson all over his face, QB Matthew Stafford wasn’t able to connect with WR Titus Young, forcing a punt.
With Darren McFadden getting some rest, Taiwan Jones made his first run, a 12 yard one. And after a first down reception by David Ausberry, Darrius Heyward-Bey made a great catch in tight coverage for 41 yards, one-handed over the arm of CB Justin Miller, getting the offense inside the redzone. McFadden came back to the field and put the Raiders in a 1st & goal after a short run up the middle on a 3rd down. And on 3rd & goal, McFadden fell short up the middle, but this time head coach Dennis Allen decided to keep the offense on the field on 4th down from the 1 yard line and the result was a touchdown by McFadden on second effort up the middle. The call only came after a coache’s challenge, since the call on the field was a fumble recovered by Detroit, but “DMC” was able to put the ball over the goal line before losing control of it. Lions 3 x 7 Raiders with 6:29 to go in the first half.
Former raider Justin Miller answered that with a 79 yard kickoff return, putting QB Shaun Hill 1 yard shy of the redzone. (Sebastian Janikowski was injured on the pursuit, a left groin pull). But on a 3rd & 1, Hill overthrew Calvin Johnson on his first target of the game, leading to a 30 yard field goal. Lions 6 x 7 Raiders. The Raiders quickly saw themselves on a 3rd down as well, after Palmer missed an open Streater deep middle, which went for an interception by DL Willie Young on a screen pass, getting Detroit on the Raiders 8 yard line. And after a stuffed run and a forced incomplete pass by the defensive line, Hill hit Calvin Johnson 2 yards shy of the endzone. On 4th down, Hill once again wasn’t able to connect with Johnson, threwing behind him in tight coverage by Philip Wheeler.
Palmer and Streater gave the offense some breathing room with a 9 yard connection on first down, followed by a short run by Taiwan Jones for a first down, with McFadden done for the day. On 3rd & 8 at the 16-yard line, Jones showcased his blazing speed, running around the defense for a first down, followed by a nice gain by Brandon Myers. Palmer found Eddie McGee deep middle over the Lions 40 yard line, but the receiver got hit and lost control of the ball right after the catch, leading to another interception, this time by LB Stephen Tulloch. But the raider defense forced a quick 3 & out (3 incompletions), getting the offense back on the field with 57 seconds to go at their own 27 yard line. And after 3 catches by Myers, 2 by Jones and 1 by Streater, the Raiders were on the opposing 38 yard line with 5 seconds left. With Janikowski still in pain, Eddie Carmona lined up for a 56 yard field goal off the dirt and nailed it. A very impressive kick by the rookie, ending the first half. Lions 6 x 10 Raiders.
Dennis Allen kept his first string defense for beginning of the second half. The Lions marched to the raider field and on a 2nd & 2 on the 27 yard line, two takeaways happened on the same play: Matt Giordano made a great interception, taking the ball away from the hands of TE Brandon Pettigrew, but that was taken away by a roughing the passer penalty by Tommy Kelly . And on a 3rd & 4 from the raider 7 yard line, Hill rolled right, drawing Wheeler’s attention, and found Pettigrew in the endzone. Lions 13 x 10 Raiders.
Terrelle Pryor took control of the offense following a short return by Mike Goodson, alongside the other backups. Taiwan Jones turned a negative rush into a first down with his top notch quickness. Pryor found Travionte Session in a nicely timed back shoulder throw for another first down. But after an incompletion and a no-gain rush, Pryor’s scramble was not enough and Lechler punted the ball back to the Lions. The first team defense was also done for the day, as the second stringers stepped onto the field. On a 3rd & 6 at Detroit’s 26, Hill’s pass went incomplete under pressure from rookie Christo Bilukidi, forcing a punt with 3:45 left in the 3rd quarter.
A fumbled snap by Pryor, recovered by Mike Goodson, opened the next offensive drive, followed by a good run by Goodson, setting up a 3rd & 6. And then Terrelle Pryor simply took off for 59 yards, showcasing a breathtaking speed that has never been seen before by a raider QB. And he was not done: On a 2nd&3 from the Lions’ 17 yard line, Pryor got away from a sack and scrambled right for a touchdown. Lions 13 x 17 Raiders.
The raider defense continued to look good. Miles Burris stuffed a run with violence up the middle for no gain. And on a 3rd & 25 (due to an unnecessary roughness call on WR Terrance Toliver), Hill’s pass was too short and the raider offense was back on the field again, starting at their own 45 yard line. And on a 2nd & 10, Pryor launched the ball deep to rookie Juron Criner, who shielded CB Alphonso Smith and made the catch over the defender for a 39 yard TD, despite the pass interference. Criner with the impressive kind of play he got used to do in the offseason, but now finally in a real game situation. Lions 13 x 24 Raiders.
The Lions’ offense, now lead by rookie QB Kellen Moore, was able to find a better rhythm, getting decent gains through the air. Pat Lee dropped an interception, which lead to a 3rd & 7 at the Raiders 47 yard line. Jamie Cumbie went past his blocker and sacked Moore to force another Detroit punt with 9:05 to go in the 4th quarter. But the offense went 3 & out, when Criner dropped a sure first down catch. Jaime Cumbie followed his sack with 2 passes batted down at the line. Pat Lee had another chance to record an interception, this a more difficult one which went through his hands again. On the following 3rd down, Moore faced huge pressure up the middle on a screen pass and threw the ball away, to force another punt with 5:46 left.
And then Pryor, right off the bat, found Juron Criner deep again for a 76 yard touchdown. Pryor rolled right and launched the ball high, catching Criner on the run, who broke a tackle and ran unbothered the rest of the way for another exciting TD. Lions 13 x 31 Raiders.
After a 17 yard gain to WR Lance Long, Kellen Moore’s 3rd down pass went incomplete after Mike Mitchell broke it down with a good hit. But Moore, going for the 4th down, followed that incompletion with gains of 14, 5, 9 and 6 yards, to put the Lions in a 1st & goal situation. And on 2nd down, he found TE Alex Gottlieb up the middle for a touchdown. Lions 20 x 31 Raiders with 3:36 left. Following the 2 minute warning, it was time for the NFL debut of QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero, undrafted rookie out of Brown, who did not attempt a pass as Lonyae Miller’s runs ended up leading to a punt with 1:48 to go. And then on 1st down, Jamie Cumbie got his 3rd blocked pass of the game, but this time the ball didn’t touch the ground, as Christo Bilukidi recorded the interception. 3 QB knees later, it’s game over. Final score: Lions 20 x 31 Raiders.
Carson Palmer finished the game with 181 yards (65.4 completion percentage) and 2 interceptions. Terrelle Pryor recorded 137 yards (60%) and 2 TDs through the air, and 90 yards on 5 attempts, with 1 TD on the ground. Taiwan Jones led the RBs with 50 yards (5 yards per carry). Juron Criner led the receivers in reception yards with 115, and 2 TDs. Rod Streater and Brandon Myers tied for the lead in terms of catches, with 5 each. Lamarr Houston led the defense with 6 tackles.
Sebastian Janikowski did not finish the game after leaving with a left groin injury.
The Raiders will now wrap up their 2012 pre-season against the Seahawks in Seattle, on August 30th at 7 P.M. (PDT).