Terrelle Pryor had played so well and seemingly made so much progress that it was hard to forget the Oakland Raiders’ young quarterback had only a half-dozen starts to his credit heading into Week 6. That inexperience bubbled over with disastrous results in a lopsided 24-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
On a day when Oakland’s defense put together another fine outing, Pryor and the offense fell flat on their collective face.
It wasn’t a complete meltdown like some Raiders quarterbacks have suffered through over the past decade. It certainly wasn’t anything close to Matt Flynn’s disastrous performance a few weeks ago.
What it was, however, was a sharp smack of reality across the face.
Although he had some sharp moments running the ball in the first half, Pryor never really looked comfortable at all in the pocket. Of course, getting sacked 10 times behind an offensive line that was down to its third-string center, third-string right tackle and backup right guard doesn’t help much.
Still, it was evident early on that Pryor was not the same quarterback he has been for the past several weeks.
On Oakland’s first two drives, he was skittish and his footwork was off. Pryor couldn’t get settled into a good rhythm, and although he made a pair of nice scrambles early, the passing part of his game never got up to speed.
The Raiders’ third series ended when Sebastian Janikowski’s 51-yard field-goal try missed. One play earlier, however, Pryor misfired on a quick slant to wide receiver Denarius Moore on a 3rd-and-8 play that would have kept the drive going.
Even on the 39-yard touchdown pass to Moore, it was a simple slant pattern that the receiver turned into a big play when he outran the coverage into the end zone.
When center Andre Gurode went out injured in the second quarter, setting off a domino effect along Oakland’s offensive line, things really fell apart.
The Raiders scored on the first drive without Gurode, but that was the last time they got into the end zone.
Pryor threw three interceptions in the second half, every one of them costly and critical. Each time, his mechanics were terrible.
The first interception came while he was backpedalling, and he basically threw the ball up for grabs. That’s a cardinal sin for any quarterback, let alone against an aggressive defense like Kansas City’s. At the very least, Pryor has to take a sack or throw the ball away in that situation.
The second turnover came after the Raiders were backed up deep in their own territory, and it helped set up a Chiefs field goal. It was a combination of breakdowns both by Pryor and the intended receiver, Moore, but the end result was the same.
The third was just a poorly thrown ball that was picked off by safety Husain Abdullah and returned 44 yards for another score. Again, it was a pass that Pryor never should have thrown. Abdullah played an underneath coverage that the quarterback misread, making for an easy pick-six.
Again, it’s not easy making the correct decisions when you have 300-pound defensive linemen in your face all the time. Oakland’s offensive line, battered and bruised as it was, was just no match for the Chiefs’ relentless pass rush, which wreaked havoc on the Raiders the entire afternoon.
Pryor and the passing game also didn’t receive much relief at all from the ground game. Oakland’s running backs accounted for just 65 yards, just five more than Pryor had by himself.
That allowed Kansas City’s defensive linemen to rush the quarterback with no concern about playing it safe. They repeatedly teed off on the Raiders’ beleaguered offensive line, dropping Pryor on what felt like an endless stream of sacks in the second half.
Pryor finished the day 18-of-34 for 216 yards and a passer rating of 45.7, the lowest of his career in games he’s started.
More concerning than the numbers was Pryor’s lack of poise. The Kansas City crowd clearly rattled him, and once the Chiefs began to knock him around, the mental part of Pryor’s game began to slip away.
If there is anything positive to come out of all of this, it’s that Pryor has proven to be a quick learner and he rarely makes the same mistake twice.
With the bye week coming, it’ll give him some time to go over what went wrong and try to correct it. Considering what happened, the timing couldn’t be better for Pryor or the Raiders.