Pryor has fun, at Chargers' expense
October, 7, 2013
By Paul Gutierrez | ESPN.com
OAKLAND, Calif. -- After a quick beginning, and even more fits and starts, the Oakland Raiders' offense needed a big play from its biggest playmaker.
And on third-and-14, from his own 41-yard line, and with San Diego within a touchdown and riding momentum midway through the fourth quarter, Terrelle Pryor heard the disembodied voice of his offensive coordinator in his helmet as he broke the huddle.
“He’s not going to get it off,” Greg Olson said, noting the dwindling play clock and not exactly filling the raw quarterback with confidence.
No matter. Pryor, it turns out, had enough confidence for Olson, his teammates, the coaching staff and practically the whole sold-out O.co Coliseum for Sunday night’s late start.
“That was hilarious,” Pryor said later. “I actually giggled. He’s crazy.”
Crazy like a fox. Because all Pryor did was roll right -- as he did most of the night -- look downfield and spy Brice Butler ... for the first time all game. Pryor hit Butler for a 20-yard pickup that extended the drive, and four plays later Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 50-yard field goal for the final points in a 27-17 Oakland victory.
Hilarious? Sure. Crazy? OK.
But try just downright fun. Because while there's no doubt Pryor’s chaotic play can and will give the normally staid and decidedly young Dennis Allen a few white hairs, it’s also giving the Raiders a chance.
“It’s exciting, it really is,” Allen said. “It gives everybody on the team a boost when he goes out there and makes those explosive plays and creates those plays. A lot of times when you look up and think, 'Oh no, something bad is going to happen,' and here he goes, getting out of the pocket and [he] creates.
“So it gives our team a sense of confidence that no matter what happens in the game, we’re going to still be able to continue to move the ball and have a chance to score points.”
That Pryor completed his first 10 passes, for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 44-yard TD to Rod Streater on the Raiders’ first offensive play, and had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 at the time, was the fun part for Oakland.
Running around and basically clowning the Chargers’ defense in his first game since he suffered a concussion at Denver on Sept. 23 was the gravy.
“You can just see his swag back there,” Streater said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence, making his throws, making his reads, and he’s getting a lot better.”
Consider the makeshift offensive line behind which Pryor had to operate against San Diego: LT Khalif Barnes, LG Lucas Nix, C Andre Gurode, RG Mike Brisiel, RT Matt McCants.
It’s a far cry from the projected line in training camp of LT Jared Veldheer, LG Tony Bergstrom, C Stefen Wisniewski, RG Brisiel and RT Barnes.
Then, a week after running back Darren McFadden strained a hamstring, backup Rashad Jennings did the same against the Chargers. The Raiders had to play fullback Marcel Reece, who was dinged up, having sprained a knee last week, at tailback in the second half.
Duct tape, anyone?
Perhaps Pryor, then, could use some to put on his cleats to keep the baseball infield dirt from clotting up and affecting his traction.
Yes, the dirt is a factor.
“It feels like you’re running on concrete,” Pryor said. “It’s very tough.
“Being in Oakland and understanding it, [the fans] die and they live for the A’s around here in the Bay. That’s big, but at the same time, I’m like, geez, I’m tired of getting tackled on that dirt.”
Pryor laughed. He could afford to after a victory.
“I keep slipping on it,” he said. “But hey, if it’s for the A’s to keep slipping on it, I guess I’ll be playing on it. I hope they do well and I want them to win.”
While the A’s are locked in a 1-1 American League Division Series with the Detroit Tigers, Pryor ended up rushing for 31 yards on 11 carries and threw for 221 yards on 18-of-23 passing and had a career-high passer rating of 135.7.
He likes to speak of his competitive nature, how he uses it as a psychological ploy.
And just before kickoff, reports filtered in that Josh Freeman, late of Tampa Bay and linked to the Raiders, had agreed to sign with Minnesota.
Surely, word of the Raiders’ reported interest in Freeman had to stir up some competitive feelings in Pryor, who had already outlasted Matt Flynn, no?
“It is what it is,” said a stone-faced Pryor. “If he could come in and help, come in and help.”
But Freeman is not coming to Oakland now.
“It is what it is,” he said.
Kind of like Pryor’s evolving game.