Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen won't take a moral victory from the hard fought 21-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on the road in the season opener. However, the Raiders can build on the positives and take them into next Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Raiders trailed 14-0 after the Colts scored touchdowns on the first two drives. Oakland hung tough and put together a strong performance from that point forward. After getting blown out so many times a season ago, this Raiders team responded by playing with effort, energy and pride. In the end, they came up short, but there is no substitute for resiliency in the NFL.
“I think the positive is that the guys continued to believe, continued to compete, continued to fight, and we made some plays,” Allen said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win the game. I mean right up until the end of the game we had an opportunity to win. What we’ve got to improve on and learn from this. We’ve got to make those plays in those critical situations so that when you come in on Monday you’ve got a good feeling and not a bad feeling.”
The shining spot for the Raiders was quarterback Terrelle Pryor. In just his second career start, Pryor looked like a much improved quarterback. He made plays through the air and with his legs to the tune of 217 passing yards and 112 rushing yards. He legitimized the Raiders offense, taking the team on drives on 50 or more yards three times. He made three crucial mistakes with an early interception, taking a sack late, and the late interception that ended the game. That development can come, but his physical gifts are already apparent. He has a ways to go to be a great quarterback, but his tools are there. The throw to Darren McFadden that was reviewed and overturned because only one foot came down in bounds was great.
Pryor worked the ball around to eight different receivers. Rod Streater and Pryor have a very good rapport that showed with Streater making five catches for 70 yards. Pryor was able to hide some of the offensive line deficiencies with his ability to elude pressure and make positive gains. He extended drives allowing the offense to win the time of possession by converting 7-13 first downs and in the process keep Luck off the field.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders looked vastly improved. On both Andrew Luck touchdown passes, the Raiders' pressure was a split second from preventing each. They were able to generate pressure all afternoon and finished the game with four sacks by Jason Hunter, Tyvon Branch, Tracy Porter, and Lamaar Houston. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver called a nice game, bringing pressure from cornerbacks and safeties to contain Andrew Luck. They had opportunities for several more sacks that slipped through their fingers.
The next step for the Raiders is finishing these games. They put themselves in prime position to pull off an upset against a playoff team from a year ago in their home stadium. Now they have to take the positives and build from them as well as learn from the mistakes.
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