It wasn’t pretty.
But when is an Oakland Raiders game ever?
The Silver and Black lost to the Indianapolis Colts 21-17. It wasn’t a season opener for the Raider Nation to fondly remember but there were several signs for optimism.
In particular was the play of third-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who made his second NFL start (both on the road) and summoned offense out of thin air. Pryor completed 19 of his 29 pass attempts for 217 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. But his decent throwing numbers weren’t the reason Oakland hung around to the end.
Pryor rushed 13 times for 112 yards (a game-high and Raiders record for a quarterback), stiff-arming, juking and leaping for first downs. The 24-year-old was most effective when optioning from the pistol formation, which Indianapolis couldn’t answer. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Pryor casually bulldozed defenders and displayed his 4.4 speed.
His running, combined with his pedestrian passing, led the Raiders on an unanswered 17-point run and gave the team an opportunity to win in the final seconds. But it was at Indianapolis’ 8-yard line on first down with 1:13 left when the signal caller’s inexperience glared the most.
Pryor took the snap, and feeling immediate pressure scrambled backwards when he was sacked by Robert Mathis. It was a 16-yard loss, and on third down the quarterback tossed an interception to Antoine Bethea to seal the contest. Pryor then reportedly wept in the locker room.
It was a gut-punching loss, but Pryor should hang his head high for proving he belongs in the NFL. He provides immediate value as a rusher and moldable talent as a passer. Against the Colts Pryor’s accuracy and decision-making remained inconsistent, but he looked far from lost as the game-manager and kept his eyes downfield when protection collapsed. If anything, the former Buckeye injected needed excitement into the short-handed offense.
Al Davis’ last draft choice has a solid foundation of skills but requires extensive polish, which was evident at Lucas Oil Stadium. It will be interesting to see if Pryor can correct some of his mental miscues by next week facing Jacksonville.
Photo Credit: Sam Riche / McClatchy-Tribune News Service