Oakland Raiders: 2013 Week 3 OAK at DEN

Terrelle Pryor Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesTerrelle Pryor was more than 50 minutes through another solid showing before being knocked out.

DENVER -- For one of the few times in his short tenure as Oakland Raiders coach, Dennis Allen seemed outwardly frazzled.

He had just been asked if Terrelle Pryor would be available on a short week to face the Washington Redskins on Sunday in Oakland, and the notoriously cool Allen blinked.

“I have no idea,” Allen said.

Indeed, the concussion suffered by Pryor when the quarterback ran into a blitzing Wesley Woodyard and endured a helmet-to-chin hit in the fourth quarter of the Raiders’ eventual 37-21 loss to the Denver Broncos on Monday has thrown uncertainty into Oakland’s most capricious position.

Pryor, who is as raw as he is electric as a playmaker, has made strides in three starts this season, and even if he is not the Raiders’ Mr. Right, he is indeed their Mr. Right Now.

Against the Broncos, he had a career-best quarterback rating of 112.4, completing 19 of 28 passes for 281 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown catch and run by Denarius Moore.

“The big stage doesn’t bother him at all,” Moore said of Pryor. “It’s like he has been a starting quarterback for five years now.”

Pryor did not commit a turnover for the second consecutive game and also rushed for 36 yards on four carries. But he lost two yards on that vicious hit by Woodyard, which laid him out face-down in the grass for a few seconds. Pryor stayed in the game for two more plays before leaving for the locker room.

There is no question Pryor is growing into the role, even with such a small sample size.

But now? Pryor has to pass the NFL-mandated concussion protocol to be cleared just to practice, let alone play in an NFL game. Again, in a short week.

Allen would not begin to hypothesize about his starting signal-caller's availability. And Pryor, because he was diagnosed with a concussion, was not required to speak to reporters after the game, though he was at his locker and did not appear outwardly dazed.

How big of a blow would it be for not only Pryor but also the Raiders if he is out next week?

“It would be a big blow,” Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. “It’s a guy that’s getting his chance, and with each week he’s getting a little bit more comfortable.

“He did some good things tonight, so it would be a tough blow [to lose him], especially for him and his development as a player if he’s not able to shake it off and bounce back and come back next week.”

The irony, then, was one locker away from Pryor.

Matt Flynn has not spoken to the media since, for the second consecutive year, he lost a training-camp battle to a younger prospect after signing a big-money deal.

But there was Flynn, taking over for Pryor after his departure, with the Raiders at the Denver 20-yard line with 2:19 to play.

“That’s part of the job,” Flynn said. “You’ve got to be ready at any time.

[+] EnlargeMatt Flynn
Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsIn late relief of a concussed Terrelle Pryor, quarterback Matt Flynn guided the Raiders 20 yards to their final touchdown.
“I’m always going to be ready. I’m always going to prepare, and that’s one thing this team will never have to worry about, is me being ready.”

Flynn wasted no time. He attempted a pass into the end zone to Moore on his first play, though the ball fell incomplete.

Then Flynn hit Marcel Reece in the flat and the fullback rumbled to the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Darren McFadden won a race to the right pylon and Flynn had a scoring drive -- albeit a 20-yard scoring drive -- in his Raiders debut.

Yeah, it’s part of the backup’s job description, but that does not mean it’s easy, right?

Flynn smiled softly.

“You’re into every play, you know every play that’s run, so you’re still into it, and you’re looking at the cards on the sidelines so you have a good feeling for what they’re trying to do defensively,” he said. “And as much as you can, you try to keep your body as warm as you can. You can get a little cold out there physically, but once you’re in there, the adrenaline starts pumping and it kind of takes care of itself.”

Flynn, who last week started taking reps as a holder for place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski, is making $6.5 million this season. He was general manager Reggie McKenzie’s guy, the presumptive starter after being acquired from Seattle following a year watching then-rookie Russell Wilson dazzle for the Seahawks.

It has been tough, then, for the competitor in Flynn to watch history repeat itself, with Pryor surprising even McKenzie to win the gig after Flynn’s sore elbow betrayed him in camp, right?

“It’s definitely tough,” Flynn allowed. “I don’t know if this is the time or place to talk about that … let’s just keep it about Denver, and we’ve got to get better than that.”

And therein lies the rub.

Pryor’s concussion brings the whole sordid tale to the surface. Just in time for Washington to come to town with its just-as-damaged-goods young quarterback in Robert Griffin III.

Just don’t ask Allen about that matchup … yet.

Rapid Reaction: Broncos 37, Raiders 21

September, 23, 2013

DENVER – A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 37-21 loss to the Denver Broncos:

What it means: Under the brightest lights a regular-season game can provide, the Raiders showed they are not yet ready for prime time. Not when Peyton Manning is at his peak. Manning carved the Raiders up Monday, at one time completing 15 consecutive passes en route to throwing for 374 yards on 32-of-37 passing with three touchdowns. The defense was simply worn down, and the offense did not come to life until it was too late. And Terrelle Pryor took a nasty blow on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Wesley Woodyard late in the fourth quarter. Though Pryor stayed in the game for another play, he left for the locker room and was replaced by Matt Flynn.

Stock watch: Falling -- Darren McFadden. A week after rushing for 129 yards on 19 carries, McFadden was stopped time and again by the Broncos, who stuffed the box and dared the Raiders to beat them with the pass. Through three quarters, McFadden had just 8 yards on 10 carries; he finished with 9 yards on 12 attempts. He finished with more yards passing.

Why not try the FG?: Sebastian Janikowski kicked a record-tying 63-yard field goal in the Mile High air here two years ago, so what about 15 more feet into the closed end of the stadium to close the first half? Instead, coach Dennis Allen had Pryor drop back for a Hail Mary … and the play, and half, ended with a dispiriting sack.

Trickery: No, McFadden could not get it going on the ground. So he went to the air. Taking a pitch from Pryor, McFadden rolled to the right, stepped up and fired a perfect spiral to fullback Marcel Reece for a 16-yard touchdown pass that got the Raiders (1-2) within 30-14 late in the third quarter. It was the eighth TD pass by a Raiders running back, along with Marcus Allen (4), Harvey Williams (2) and Tony Teresa (1), the first since Williams in 1996.

What's next: The Raiders (1-2) host Washington on a short work week. Washington is 0-3 for the first time since 2001. The teams have traded victories in their past four meetings, Oakland winning in 1995 and 2005, Washington winning in 1998 and 2009.