The Raiders season opener was a game about Terrelle Pryor. Yeah, it was played by 45 other men, or so. But the stories will focus on Pryor. The narrative could have swung in one of two ways: Pryor, our protagonist, rallies the misfit Raiders to an improbable win, hoisting the team on his back and carrying them to victory in a way only Sisyphus could appreciate, OR Pryor is duped by his inexperience, thrust into a spotlight that neither he nor his coaches are sure how to handle.
Unfortunately, this was a story of the latter. Though Pryor masterfully kept the Raiders in contention against the Colts for the 44 minutes, the game would be lost just when the Raiders looked to have victory on within their grasp. On first-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Pryor took a sack that resulted in a 16-yard loss. It was on this play that the game turned, not the subsequent two that resulted in a game-sealing turnover.
Previous to that sack, Pryor was as sharp as any quarterback today. He completed 19-of-27 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown. But those don’t tell the whole story. You see, four of those eight incompletions were the result of drops, giving Pryor an accuracy percentage of 85.2%. Oh, and three of those incompletions came on passes of 20-yards or more — one of which was intercepted. Really, besides that interception on the Raiders’ first drive, Pryor’s only other miscue came on a pass delivered behind Denarius Moore on a quick slant.
In addition to his passing, Pryor dominated with his legs. For a team that gave up the second most pressures in the preseason, Pryor was sacked only once. Though pressured on nearly ten attempts, he was just too slippery, scrambling seven times for 53 yards. He would also gain 33 yards on five read-option runs and 26 yards on a play-action run.
In total, the only stat that matters is the Raiders’ 0-1 win-loss record, but the game signified something more than that. If anything it proved the cliche that, despite his mistakes, Pryor gives this team the best chance to win. Sure, his interceptions altered the narrative significantly, but they didn’t (and shouldn’t) completely rewrite it. No, Pryor’s first chapter as the Raiders full-time starter was one of excitement and optimism. If he doesn’t lead this team to a winning record this season, at least he’ll make the games interesting.
– Boy, had Sebastian Janikowski made that field goal to end the first half, this story could have been completely different. Instead of Pryor panicking after taking the 16-yard sack, he could have just gone into damage control and let Janikowski bring home the victory.
– Both of Pryor’s interceptions were intended for Rod Streater, who might be Pryor’s favorite target. Streater lead all receivers with eight targets. Denarius Moore, however, wasn’t far behind with seven.
– I’m a bit obsessed with average depth of throw (aDOT). By my very unofficial calculation, Pryor’s aDOT was 6.3. Last year, the lowest among starting quarterbacks was Christian Ponder’s 6.8. It was clear that the Raiders coaches were giving Pryor manageable throws, so we’ll see how his aDOT changes from game to game.
– Pryor became just the third quarterback in Super Bowl era to lose a game despite throwing for 200+ yards and rushing for 100 yards, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
– Darren McFadden got no help from the offensive line today, averaging just 2.8 yards per carry despite breaking three tackles (by my count).
– Khalif Barnes was penalized twice. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
– Tracy Porter was targeted four times and allowed four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. He was flagged for a pass interference call that was declined, as well.
Porter appeared to have some pretty good coverage throughout the game, so his stats are not necessarily indicative of how well he played. Still, including the preseason, Porter has allowed nine receptions on 10 targets for 177 yards and two touchdowns. That’s bad. Real bad.
– Lamarr Houston got at least four pressures today, one of which was a sack of Andrew Luck. His presence as a pass rusher is sorely needed.