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OAKLAND, Calif. – Terrelle Pryor's day began with talk that the Oakland Raiders were interested in acquiring another quarterback in Josh Freeman.
It ended with perhaps his best game yet as an NFL quarterback.
Pryor threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter and then set up a late field goal by turning a potential sack into a third-and-long conversion that gave the Raiders a 27-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night.
"That's what the kid brings to us," coach Dennis Allen said. "Terrelle brings that ability when things aren't right, when things break down, he brings that ability to make plays."
Despite that ability that has Oakland fans as excited as they have been for years about their quarterback, Pryor apparently still has some doubters to win over. The Raiders (2-3) were reportedly one of the teams interested in signing Freeman before the former Tampa Bay quarterback reached a deal with Minnesota instead late Sunday night.
"I heard some of it and at the end of the day I can't really control what I can't control," Pryor said. "Whatever happens, happens. No one's going to work harder than me, so I try not to focus on things I can't control."
Charles Woodson tied an NFL record with his 13th defensive touchdown and then sealed the win with a late interception as the two most popular Raiders turned this rare late-night start into a celebration.
Philip Rivers had his third 400-yard passing game of the season, throwing for 411 yards and two touchdowns. But he also had three interceptions as the Chargers (2-3) turned the ball over five times in the loss.
Here are five things to take away from the Raiders win over the Chargers:
PRYOR'S PASSING: With his sprinter's speed, few have doubted Pryor's ability as a runner. It's what he has done passing that has pleased the Raiders so much. Pryor completed his first 10 passes, including a 44-yard touchdown to Rod Streater and a 2-yarder to Denarius Moore to get Oakland off to the fast start. But his biggest play might have come in the fourth quarter with Oakland protecting a seven-point lead. He got away from pressure on third-and-14 to throw a 20-yard completion to Brice Butler that set up a field goal that gave the Raiders a two-score advantage.
"That's one of the better things I do, create time," said Pryor, who went 18 for 23 for 223 yards. "I'm always trying to get better in the pocket."
PROLIFIC PHILIP: Rivers has adjusted well to new coach Mike McCoy's offense, doubling his career total of 400-yard passing games in the past four weeks. But after playing mostly mistake-free the last three weeks, Rivers reverted to the quarterback who committed 47 turnovers the past two seasons, tied for the second most in the NFL over that span. He was intercepted on a deep pass by Usama Young on the opening drive to set up a touchdown and then threw an interception in the end zone to rookie D.J. Hayden with less than 2 minutes left. He added a third in the closing minute to overshadow his 411-yard passing day.
"It should have never come down to that," Rivers said. "I'm not saying we should have won in an easy fashion. Those plays are obviously big, but when you dig the whole we dug then those are even bigger because you can't afford any mistakes.
CHARLES IN CHARGE: When Woodson returned to Oakland as a free agent this offseason, the thought was he'd bring leadership to a young defense. The old guy showed he still has that knack for big plays. Woodson returned Danny Woodhead's third-quarter fumble 25 yards for his 13th career defensive touchdown, tying the NFL record held by Darren Sharper and Rod Woodson. He then sealed the game with his first interception of the season, just minutes before turning 37.
"It just means I've been around the game a long time," Woodson said of his record. "I've made a bunch of plays and I'm one of the greatest to ever play this game.
LATE NIGHT: Much was made in the lead-up to the game about the late start that was necessary to allow time to convert the Coliseum to its football configuration after the Oakland Athletics played a baseball playoff game here Saturday night. The process took about 18 hours and was completed around 3:30 p.m. PDT, more than five hours before kickoff at 8:35 p.m. That was the latest start for a West Coast game in NFL history but it only enhanced the atmosphere at the sold-out Coliseum.
CLEAN KICKS: Much has been made of Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski's early season troubles as he adjusts to new holder Marquette King after 13 seasons working with Shane Lechler. Janikowski missed three field-goal attempts in his first four games, including a 48-yarder in the opener and a 35-yarder in Week 2 against Jacksonville that ended a streak of 50 straight makes from less than 40 yards. Janikowski delivered two long field goals off the infield dirt, hitting a 47-yarder in the second quarter and a 50-yarder in the fourth that gave Oakland breathing room with a 27-17 lead.
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