INDIANAPOLIS – Quarterback Terelle Pryor started Sunday’s season-opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
No shocker there.
What came after, that was the real surprise. The Raiders hung tough in a hostile environment but, in the end, it was all for naught because the defense couldn’t hold a four-quarter lead. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck negated a solid effort by the Raiders and orchestrated his eighth fourth-quarter comeback of his young career in a 21-17 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The dramatic finish was unexpected after the Colts took a 14-0 lead. The defense clamped down in the second half, allowing Pryor to orchestrate the offense and take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Raiders let up late, giving up a 19-yard touchdown run by Luck.
That made it 21-17, and gave Pryor roughly five minutes to complete a comeback. He hit Jeron Mastrud on a 41-yard pass to get close, and Pryor hit Denarius Moore for a 21-yard gain on 4th-and-9.
Pryor was eight yards from paydirt, but couldn’t complete the comeback. Antoine Bethea intercepted Pryor at the 6-yard line with 25 seconds remaining and the Colts secured victory.
All told, Pryor was 19-for-29 passing for 217 yards. He had a two interceptions and a touchdown. He also had 112 yards on 13 carries.
The Raiders took their first lead at 17-14 on a 5-yard touchdown pass caught by Denarius Moore. It completed a 44-yard drive where Pryor stayed cool under pressure. Moore dropped a sure touchdown pass. Darren McFadden couldn’t get both feet in bounds on another. Pryor still managed to move the offense downfield with quality runs and passes.
Pryor orchestrated a touchdown drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by McFadden. Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter.
McFadden gets going: Raiders running back Darren McFadden touched the ball in the first half as often as he did during the preseason. He was a steadying presence between the tackles, keeping the Raiders in manageable downs. He was also an effective decoy on run fakes that Pryor kept and turned into positive yards.
He finished with 48 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Bucking a trend: The Raiders were 7-1 over the past two seasons when someone rushes for 100 yards or more. That didn’t hold up on Sunday as they got a 100-yard rushing performance, but not the win. But it wasn’t McFadden who crossed the threshold.
Pryor was the guy over 100, totaling 112 yards on 13 carries.
Turn up the heat: Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was intentionally vanilla during the preseason. On Sunday, Tarver got creative. He blitzed defensive backs aplenty, and brought numbers on clear-cut passing downs. The extra blitzers certainly helped create a pass rush largely absent during the preseason. The Colts’ re-vamped, still weak interior line caved, and the Raiders defense took momentum away from an offense that was unstoppable early on. Tracy Porter, Tyvon Branch, and Lamarr Houston all had sacks in the game.
Jason Hunter didn’t need a creative call to make a huge play. He came up with a huge sack on 4th-and- with two minutes left in the third quarter that gave the offense possession near midfield.
Good, not Luck-y: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck gave the Raiders fits in the first half. He completed his first 11 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns while establishing a 14-0 lead. He became less effective when the pass rush picked up in the second half. Overall, Luck completed 18-of-23 passing for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He added 38 yards and a score on the ground. His connection with receiver Reggie Wayne carried over from last season. Wayne had six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown in the first half.
Milestone alert: McFadden moved into ninth place on the Raiders all-time list for career rushing yards. He moved past Justin Fargas and Charlie Smith on the all-time list.
Sitting it out: Offensive tackle Menelik Watson (knee) and tight end David Ausberry (shoulder) were ruled out and did not make the trip. QB Matt McGloin, DE Ryan Robinson, G Antoine McClain, DE Brian Sanford and WR Juron Criner were also ruled inactive.
What's next: The Raiders come home to face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who struggled mightily in a season- opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.