The Raiders kicked off their regular season as they took on Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis. Oakland got off to a slow start but was almost able to pull off the victory but their game-winning drive fell just short and the Raiders fell 21-17 Sunday.
Down 21-17, Raiders starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor had 5:20 seconds to try and drive his team back down the field 80 yards and get his team the late lead. Facing a 4th and 9, Pryor was able to find wide receiver Denarius Moore for a 21-yard gain and the first down.
Then the team hit a speed bump.
Down on the Colts eight-yard line with a first and goal, Pryor tried to get away from the Colts defensive line but was unfortunately sacked for a 16-yard loss. After an incompletion to tight end Mychal Rivera, Pryor tried to find Rod Streater in the end zone but was intercepted by Colts safety Antoine Bethea. With just 25 seconds remaining, Luck was able to take a knee twice to end the game.
The game looked like it may turn into an ugly contest for the Raiders as Luck was able to drive down the field for touchdowns on his first two drives of the game, putting the Colts up 14-0 early. But then the Raiders defense was able to settle down and get some stops, allowing the Raiders to crawl back into the game.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen attributes the defensive improvement to getting Luck in less-than-desirable situations.
“I think eventually we got him in a little bit of a third-and-longer situations and we were able to get a little bit of pressure on him and I think that’s the key, but with all good quarterbacks, you got to be on your game on every single play and we got to do a better job,” Allen said of his defense playing Luck.
It actually looked like the Raiders would get on the scoreboard first with Pryor driving the team down the field on the first drive. Ultimately though, Pryor was unable to put the team on the board as he threw a costly interception in the end zone. Pryor put the ball in the air late and Colts cornerback Greg Toler was able to beat Rod Streater for the ball and record the interception.
Luck and the Colts offense clicked right away as the second-year quarterback drove his team down the field with a 10-play drive that was capped off with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne. Cornerback Tracy Porter was in coverage.
Luck was able to pick on Porter with great success in the first half, with Wayne hauling in six receptions for 72 yards and one touchdown in the first half alone.
Oakland was able to take their first lead of the game when Pryor found wide receiver Denarius Moore on a quick slant for the touchdown from just five yards out, putting the Raiders up 17-14 in the fourth quarter. But the lead didn’t last long.
As Luck has become accustomed to doing, the young quarterback drove his team back down the field to retake the lead. With a chance to hold the Colts to just a field goal and a tie ball game, the defense opened up and allowed Luck to rush into the end zone from 19 yards out. A key piece of the play was former Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey blocking cornerback D.J. Hayden, allowing Luck to get all the way into the end zone. The touchdown gave the Colts the late 21-17 lead that proved to be enough for the victory.
The game may have also played out differently if Sebastian Janikowski didn’t miss a 48-yard field goal late in the first half. The miss made the team need a touchdown on their final drive to win the game instead of only a field goal. Janikowski didn’t miss an attempt from within 50 yards all of last year.
The good news for the Raiders is that they were able to apply pressure on the opposing quarterback, something of which was a concern heading into the season. The defense was able to record four sacks on Luck.
Despite not being able to get into the end zone for the win at the end, Pryor had a solid game in only his second-career start in a NFL regular-season game. Pryor finished 19/29 for 217 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also added 112 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
Allen took note of his new starting quarterback’s game and thought he saw some good things but also knows there’s work to be done.
“Well, I think you can see that he provides a spark and has some things he can do and create with his feet. I think that was outstanding,” Allen said. “I think overall I was pleased with his performance. There’s still a lot of things that we got to get cleaned up with him and that’s what, anytime you have a young guy, you’re going to have to make some corrections and you’re going to have some things that get cleaned up. That’s what we got to continue to work for and continue to improve.”
Pryor, on the other hand, had a different view of how he performed today.
“I did awful. Two interceptions; could’ve won the game, had them on the ropes down there. That’s all that matters…. That number in the win column is all that matters to me. It’s not about me. It doesn’t matter how I play, I just want to do well for the team.”
Pryor even went on to say that this loss was on his shoulders, saying “this one’s on me.”
Though his team lost the game, Allen is confident in his team and still believes he has a solid team under him.
“I think this team, I like this team and I’ve said that from the very beginning,” Allen said. “I like their mindset, I like the way they were able to battle back from being 14 down in the first quarter and there’s still a lot of things we got to get cleaned up. That’s where we’ve got to improve. The mindset’s there, the execution is what we’ve got to continue to improve.”
Pryor and the team will look to bounce back as they return home for their home-opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday.