Terrelle Pryor Steals Headlines, but Oakland’s Defense Deserves Major Credit

The Oakland Raiders are a lot better than almost anyone expected. On Sunday, the Raiders dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers with defense and moved to 3-4 with a 21-18 victory. 

It all started with a 93-yard touchdown run by quarterback Terrelle Pryor on the first play from scrimmage—the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in NFL history. While Pryor continues to steal the headlines, it's Oakland's defense that deserves the credit for the team's progress in 2013.

In the last four games, Oakland's defense has allowed no more than 18 points with an average of 17.3 per game. That's elite-level play from a defense with 10 new defensive starters, including eight mid-level free agents playing key roles and a couple of rookies.

The Raiders' defense was one of the worst in the league last year, but what they have been able to do is borderline miraculous considering the circumstances. With the exception of allowing 37 points to the Denver Broncos in Denver in Week 3, Oakland's defense has kept games close—even though the offense has been struggling.

"I thought our defense was outstanding," head coach Dennis Allen said after the game via the team's official website. "They did a great job; they made a lot of plays." 

Pryor has been exciting to watch, but there is no doubt Oakland's defense has carried the team. In the last four games, Oakland's defense has scored seven points. It's safe to say the defense more responsible for the team's three victories than the offense, considering the offense has averaged just 18 points per game on the season.

As the Raiders defense goes, so does the team. 

One of the things Oakland's defense has been able to do is keep opponents out of the end zone. In the last four weeks, Raiders opponents are just 8-of-16 in red-zone efficiency. Four of those scores have come in the fourth quarter with the Raiders in c...

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