Originally published on SBReport.net on Dec. 30, 2012
Raider Nation members longing to see quarterback Terrelle Pryor get saw their wish come true on Sunday, as starting quarterback Carson Palmer remained out with a rib injury.
Though a different quarterback was inserted behind center, the results were similar as the Raiders fell to the Chargers 24-21 in San Diego. The loss was the Raiders' eighth loss in their last nine games.
Unlike the Raiders offense of the past two weeks, Pryor was able to provide a spark and lead the offense into the end zone, scoring 21 points.
"He obviously provided a little bit of a spark so I think there's something to build on there," Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said following the game.
Though Pryor finished just 13/28 for 150 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, he did suffer from his wide receivers dropping catch-able passes.
Overall, Allen was pleased with what he saw from his quarterback.
"I thought he did some good things," Allen said. "Obviously I thought there's still some work that needs to be done there."
The second-year quarterback's speed proved to be beneficial numerous times as he was forced out of the pocket and forced to scramble. The speedy quarterback rushed the ball nine times for 49 yards and one rushing touchdown. Pryor's rushing touchdown came on a play that left Pryor rolling out to his left from the Chargers four-yard line and sliding into the end zone, to bring the Chargers lead to 24-14.
The young quarterback looked comfortable and confident while on the field. Pryor handed the ball off twice and rushed the ball on a read option play in his first drive, resulting in a three-and-out.
Pryor's first pass attempt came on the second drive as he was able to look around at his receivers and find a open Marcel Reece, who dropped the pass.
Overall, the young quarterback showed play-making capability but did miss some throws to open receivers. Pryor seemed to have a tendency to loft a ball too often, as he did during his interception when he attempted to find Darrius Heyward-Bey in the end zone.
Pryor's first career touchdown came when he found Heyward-Bey on a well thrown fade route in the corner of the end one in the first half. His second touchdown of the day came when he was able to scramble right and extend the play to find Denarius Moore in the end zone to bring the Chargers lead to just three.
"The scramble there late in the game and [Pryor] hitting Denarius Moore there in the back of the end zone, that was a heck of a football play," Allen said of his quarterback's athletic play.
But that was as close as the Raiders would get to the Chargers lead. With just under two minutes remaining in the game, the Raiders were forced to attempt an onside kick that failed, all but ending the game.
The Chargers started the game off with a bang when Michael Spurlock returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, giving the Chargers the 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game. San Diego would extend that lead with a field goal later in the first quarter.
But down just 10-7, the Raiders defense faltered as they left tight end Antonio Gates wide open for a touchdown to give the Chargers the 17-7 lead at the half.
Pryor's interception came at a bad time as he had the Raiders driving to score but then lofted the ball too much to Heyward-Bey and was intercepted by Quentin Jammer.
The Raiders attempted to mount a late comeback when they blocked San Diego's punt and recovered at the Chargers' 11-yard line, leading to Pryor's third touchdown of the game. Down 24-21 and under two minutes remaining in the game, Janikowski was unable to get the ball back to the offense as his onside kick attempt failed, allowing the Chargers to run out the clock for the victory.
Raiders running back Mike Goodson and Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes were ejected from the game early on after a scuffle in the first quarter. One positive that came from the scene was Pryor showing leadership by running into the scuffle and separating Goodson and getting in his face about it. The Raiders would have had a first-and-goal situation had Goodson not committed the penalty.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen walks off the field after finishing just 4-12 in his first season as an NFL head coach
The loss gives the Raiders a 4-12 record, tied for third worst in the NFL, giving Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders the third overall draft pick after tie breakers.