The Raiders took the field for their third preseason game and found themselves in a similar situation to last week, falling behind 17-0 in the first quarter.
To say the game started off ugly would be an understatement. The offense was unable to move the ball, the defense couldn’t stop Jay Cutler and the bears, and even Sebastian Janikowski missed a field goal from inside 50 yards.
Named-starting quarterback Matt Flynn had his worst game of the offseason by far, throwing two interceptions while completing three out of six attempts, for just 19 yards for a 17.4 rating.
Flynn’s first interception came on the Raiders second drive on 3rd and nine when Flynn looked for wide receiver Denarius Moore to the right, but miscommunication resulted with Moore continuing running downfield instead of breaking back towards the ball.
“They brought some pressure and we just kind of weren’t on the same page right there with what was happening,” Flynn said of the miscommunication.”I was trying to get it out quick and that’s something we have to clean up. That’s something that we’ve got to be better with.”
The Bears quickly capitalized with Cutler finding his running back Matt Forte out on the right. Forte made Raiders linebacker Kevin Burnett miss and he scampered 32 yards for the touchdown to give the Bears the 10-0 lead.
Following the Bears score, wide receiver Jacoby Ford made his presence back on the field felt as he returned his first kickoff attempt back 62 yards much to the fans’ delight.
Flynn and the offense were unable to get a first down, forcing a 49-yard field attempt from Janikowski from off the dirt which he missed wide right for a rare miss.
Flynn’s second interception came with the team already down 24-0 early in the second quarter. On 3rd and 8, Flynn dropped back and looked for Ford across the middle but threw it behind his intended receiver and was intercepted by Bears cornerback Isaiah Frey.
Head coach Dennis Allen knows his team needs to make better decisions if his team plans on being a better team this year.
“Listen, we can’t make those mistakes, especially against a good football team and expect to win the ball game. We have to protect the football,” Allen said.
Fans in attendance serenaded him with boos and chants for Pryor as Flynn ran off of the field after his second turnover of the game.
Flynn understands the fans’ sentiment and attributes it to their passion and knows they just want to win.
“That’s the game. That’s football,” Flynn said of the crowd’s reaction. “That’s what’s going to happen when you have passionate fans and fans expect a certain level of performance and we obviously didn’t meet that today.”
Fans got their wish as Pryor entered with the Raiders first-team offense on the next drive.
Pryor struggled on the first drive, throwing a ball high on a pass to Rod Streater that should have been picked off but Streater was able to jar it loose to stop the interception, resulting in a punt.
Following a field goal from the Bears to put the Raiders 27-0 with just 1:00 remaining. Just as Pryor had done against the Cowboys in week one, the young quarterback led the team down the field to get the team on the scoreboard.
In a similar throw to the one that almost resulted in an interception before, Pryor was able to put a nice touch on the ball this time and find rookie tight end Mychal Rivera for 26 yards. After an incomplete pass, Janikowski put the team on the field with a 58-yard field goal from off the dirt to make the score 27-3 heading into halftime.
With the first-team offense still out there, Pryor was able to finally get the team in the end zone on their first drive of the second half. The drive included a play in which Pryor displayed his athleticism by eluding numerous Bears defenders looking for a sack and eventually finding Rod Streater down the sideline for a gain of 19 on a “jump pass” for a first down.
Unfortunately, Streater was slow to get up and did not return to the field after leaving with a concussion.
Pryor proceeded to demonstrate his athleticism once again by escaping the pressure and scampering 25 yards for a rushing touchdown that gave the Raiders their first touchdown.
After the second-team defense was able to recover a botched snap on the Bears’ 34-yard line, Pryor was unable to get the ball into the end zone but the team did settle for a field goal that gave made the Bears’ lead 27-13.
Pryor was able to get the team back into the end zone on his next drive, once again on a short field after the cornerback Joselio Hanson intercepted Bears quarterback Josh McCown.
On 3rd and 16, Pryor found rookie tight end Nick Kasa for a 19-yard touchdown reception. The touchdown was the first of Kasa’s career. The night would be over for Pryor after scoring 20 points on his five drives and bring the Raiders back to a manageable score being down 27-20.
Pryor isn’t thinking about any quarterback competition, he just wants to focus on the team improving.
“I’m not even looking to start,” Pryor said. “I’m not not looking to start, but I’m not looking to get into who’s going to start. I just want this team… we have a lot of things to fix offensively, defensively. We’ll fix it together, we’ll get it down. Right now, I’m leaning on my teammates and my teammates are leaning on me. Me and Matt are leaning on each other and everyone’s helping each other, and that’s how a great team starts to elapse and I think we have a great team here.”
Pryor finished the game 7/9 throwing the ball for 93 yards and one touchdown to go along with four rushes for 37 yards and a 146.8 passer rating and giving Matt McGloin a chance to win the game.
Down 34-20, McGloin was able to drive the team down the field getting to the Bears’ five-yard line.
After the Bears stopped Jeremy Stewart short of the first down, McGloin found a wide-open Jamize Olawale for the touchdown on first down. Allen then decided to go for the two-point conversion, but wide receiver Travionte Session wasn’t able to hold onto the ball on the quick slant.
The Raiders had one more chance in the last two minutes but McGloin was unable to get the job done. After being sacked to make it 4th and 24, McGloin was forced to throw up a prayer that was intercepted by the Bears, allowing them to take a knee in the victory formation and end the game with the Bears victorious 34-26.
Allen admits that Flynn did not play well and liked what he saw from Pryor, but believes he needs to take a harder look at his quarterbacks’ production before making any decision on the starting quarterback position.
“I think obviously we have to take a look at it. I think when you look at it I don’t think Matt played well in this game. Obviously, I thought Terrelle came in and gave us a spark. I thought he played well in the game. I think that’s something that we have to go and look at it. I’m not going to make any decision on anything, obviously, tonight. I want to get a chance to go back and look at the tape and see how things went. But it was obvious that Terrelle gave us a little bit of spark tonight.”
Meanwhile, Flynn is taking the job a day at a time and just taking care of what he can control such as his personal improvement.
“I’m not sure. I’m going to go out there and keep busting my tail everyday and learn from the mistakes I’ve made and just play the best ball I can. Preseason game number three is not going to affect me in the long run. It’s not going to change the way I prepare or the way I believe in myself.”
The game also marked the first game action that rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden saw after missing contact for much of preseason after coming back from an offseason surgery to remove scar tissue in his abdomen.
Hayden was rusty from the beginning giving up two consecutive passses for 38 yards, but then made a great play just a couple of plays later. Cutler looked to find the receiver Hayden was covering but the young corner was able to get his hands in there and bat the ball away, with defensive end Jason Hunter almost securing the interception.
“He made a couple plays. He was rusty. There’s no question about it, he was rusty,” Allen said of his young corner. “It’s his first game experience since November of last year so I’m sure we’ll go back and look at the tape and see that there were some positives in there as well as a lot of things that we have to get corrected.”
The Raiders head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks for their fourth and final preseason game next Thursday.
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