On a night in which most football experts expected the Oakland Raiders to be thoroughly demolished by the rival Denver Broncos, they put forth an impressive effort. Though they eventually fell by the final score of 37-21, there were flashes of promise from both sides of the ball, showing the potential the Raiders have to improve throughout the year.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor was perhaps the most dazzling of all, finishing 19-28 for 281 yards, with his lone touchdown pass coming on a 73-yard strike to Denarius Moore. Pryor also added 36 yards on 4 carries to lead the silver and black in rushing, as the stout Broncos D held Darren McFadden to just 9 yards on 12 carries.
After leading the Raiders downfield with 6 minutes remaining in the 4th, Pryor took off on a quarterback draw on 2nd down and was laid out by Bronco linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan. The ball came loose on the play, and Pryor remained down on the field for a significant period of time as the officials determined whether he was down by contact. Following a 4th down incompletion to Moore in the end zone, Pryor was taken to the locker room and Matt Flynn, the presumptive starter this offseason, finished the game.
Following the game, Pryor and cornerback Tracy Porter were both diagnosed with concussions, and per NFL rules, were not made available to the media. Already facing a short week, Pryor’s uncertain status gives coach Dennis Allen another obstacle as the team tries to get back to .500 against winless Washington Redskins at home this Sunday.
Although they sit at 0-3, the Redskins are still loaded with talent, and Allen now has to prepare his squad for Robert Griffin III, possibly, without both his starting quarterback and one of his top 2 corners. While RG3 has looked rusty coming off the torn ACL he suffered last season, he is still one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league and has improved week to week.
While Flynn was acquired in the offseason to be the starter, his pedestrian performance this preseason saw him lose his job in favor of the more athletic Pryor. For Flynn’s sake, I hope Lucas Nix - inactive last night – will be healthy enough to go Sunday. While he is far from immobile, Flynn isn’t the most fleet of foot, and is most effective when he has time to throw from the pocket. Tasked with lining up across from Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, Flynn and the Raiders’ depleted offensive line will need all the help they can get.