Pryor’s performance gives Raiders glimmer of hope moving forward

Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesThe Raiders may have lost Sunday

Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesThe Raiders may have lost Sunday

While on the surface Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts was the latest in a never-ending series of setbacks for the Raiders, something was simmering under the surface that has been absent for quite some time: hope and intrigue.

Sure, it's buried under layers of losing, bitter memories and bad contracts, but it's there, waiting to break out.

And it came in the form of quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

While Pryor didn't do enough for the Raiders to beat the Colts, he kept them in the 21-17 game until the end. His 217-yard passing, 112-yard rushing effort kept a team many pegged as the worst in the NFL alive against a team that won 11 games last year and made the playoffs.

For a franchise looking for its first winning season since 2002, it's a start.

Now don't fall victim to Week 1 overreactions. Pryor was far from perfect. He threw two bad interceptions at even worse times. He has a laundry list of improvements to make before the Jacksonville Jaguars visit the Coliseum on Sunday.

Even if he plays out of his mind, the Raiders aren't going to the playoffs this year. But is anyone still wondering if coach Dennis Allen made the right choice to start Pryor instead of Matt Flynn?

In this era of the dual-threat QB, Pryor provided a glimpse of better things on the horizon.

Your NFL leader in rushing yards entering the two “Monday Night Football” games? Why, Pryor, of course. If you had tried to place that bet prior to the season, Las Vegas would have laughed in your face.

But sure enough, Pryor was one of just two players to top 100 yards rushing Sunday. Couple that with his ability to keep plays alive with his feet and complete off-balance throws, and he is a major factor opposing defenses will have to scheme for moving forward.

Pryor's passing skills may never evolve to the level of other dual-threat QBs such as Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III, but his ability to beat the blitz Sunday — Pryor went 8-of-10 for 116 yards and a TD against it, according to Pro Football Focus — is an encouraging sign. Not that you would get Pryor to admit it.

After the loss, he was quick to take the blame.

“This loss is on me,” he said Sunday. “At the end of the day, I threw the ball away. I did awful, I thought. I had two interceptions. We had them on the ropes. We could've won the game.”

While Pryor's self-assessment is a bit harsh, the message he is sending is that he wants to be the guy. He wants to lead and set the example.

It was only one game and a lot can change in the next couple of weeks, but Pryor's first message was a strong one.

Now it's up to him to show Week 1 wasn't the peak of his ability, but just the beginning.

One way or another, it will be intriguing to watch, something the Raiders haven't been for quite a while.

Dylan Kruse is the sports editor of The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at dkruse@sfexaminer.com and followed on Twitter @dylan_kruse.

Dylan KruseOakland RaidersRaidersTerrelle Pryor

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