The Oakland Raiders started their 2013 season with a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana to face the Colts. There are lots of new faces in Oakland this year and many of the “experts” ranked them dead last in the power rankings. That’s why they play the games. The Raiders got the ball first and started at their 20. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor led the offense out of the huddle and on first down, he completed a nine-yard pass to Rod Streater. Running back Darren McFadden got the call on second down and picked up the first down with a four-yard run. On third and seven from the 36, Pryor found Streater again for a gain of 18 and a first down at the Indianapolis 46. A two-yard completion to wide receiver Jacoby Ford, a five-yard scramble by Pryor and a six-yard pass to wide receiver Denarius Moore made it first down at the 33. The Raiders were taking lots of time off the clock and moving the ball well. That was until Pryor lofted a wounded duck into the corner of the end zone that was picked off by cornerback Greg Toler. He returned the ball to the 22, but a penalty on the return moved them back to the 11.
From the 11, the Colts got off to a good start as running back Vick Ballard ran up the middle for a gain of 12. A short run by Ballard and a short reception by wide receiver Reggie Wayne made it third and five from the 28. Quarterback Andrew Luck looked for wide receiver and former Raider Darrius Heyward-Bey and found him for a gain of 16 yards. Some more running by Ballard, an offside penalty on the Raiders and a 25-yard pass to Wayne set the Colts up at the Oakland 19-yard line. From the 19, Luck found tight end Coby Fleener for seven yards and on third and three, he went to Wayne again for a 12-yard touchdown in the left corner of the end zone. Kicker Adam Vinatieri made the point after and the Colts led 7-0 with 2:47 to go in the first half.
An uneventful kick return by Ford put the Raiders on their own 19 to start the next drive. McFadden got the ball moving with a five-yard run up the middle. That was followed by an 18-yard completion to Streater. They would get as far as their 49 and on fourth and two, head coach Dennis Allen opted to punt. Marquette King got off a good punt that was fielded at the eight by return man T.Y. Hilton and he returned it 23 yards to the Indianapolis 31. Some more good running by Ballard and two more completions to Wayne gave the Colts a first down at the Oakland 24. Ballard ran up the right side for four more yards and on second and six from the 20, Luck looked for the end zone again. Despite being knocked to the ground as he threw the pass, it was caught for a touchdown by tight end Dwayne Allen. Vinatieri made the point after and the Colts went up 14-0 with 10:47 to go in the first half.
I’m pretty confident in saying that the 2012 Raiders would have probably already given up by this point. Trailing by 14 on the road, tough place to play, give it up, right? We can’t win. Let’s go home. That was then, this is now. From the Oakland 15, Pryor went to work and found McFadden for a gain of 14 yards. After a short run by McFadden, Pryor decided to take matters into his own hands. Scrambles of nine and 29 yards moved the Raiders down to the Indianapolis 31-yard line. A six-yard run by McFadden and another scramble by Pryor gave them a first down at the 12. Fullback Marcel Reece got in on the action and caught a pass for a gain of nine yards. It was now first and goal from the three. Two plays later, McFadden got the call and found the end zone. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Colts led 14-7 with 4:53 to go in the first half.
The Colts went three and out on their next possession and the Raiders took over at their 38. On third and one from the 47, Pryor rolled out to the right side and lofted a pass for Reece. He was open, but with Pryor putting so much air under the ball, the defender had time to catch up and knock the ball away. King punted the ball away and the Colts once again went three and out. That gave the Raiders the ball back at their 46 with 1:04 remaining. A 19-yard pass to tight end Mychal Rivera moved the ball to the Indianapolis 35. From there, Pryor was stuffed for a three-yard loss, a pass to Moore went nowhere and an eight-yard pass to wide receiver Brice Butler moved the ball to the 30 with time quickly running out. Janikowski was brought in for a 47-yard field goal. Normally, this would be an automatic three points. But, with Shane Lechler gone, King was the new holder. After having the same holder for 13 years, it looks like it may take some time for Janikowski to get used to having a new one. The kick sailed wide left and the score remained 14-7 at halftime. That missed kick would prove to be huge as the game progressed.
The Colts started the second half from their 20. They put together a nice balanced drive and moved into Oakland territory. However, a facemask penalty on offensive lineman Anthony Costanzo moved them back to their 39-yard line. They went nowhere after that and were forced to punt. The Raiders started their next drive from their 15. Two carries by McFadden and some more scrambling by Pryor set up a first down at the Indianapolis 39. They would get as far as the 20 and on fourth and one, Janikowski made his 37-yard field goal attempt. It was now 14-10 with 5:42 to go in the third quarter.
Starting from their 20, the Colts brought former New York Giant running back Ahmad Bradshaw into the game. Bradshaw netted 13 yards on two carries and Wayne made another catch for a gain of 15. On first down from the 48, Bradshaw was stuffed for a gain of one. Then, Heyward-Bey caught an eight-yard pass to set up what looked like an easy third and one. That was not the case this time. The Raider defense was ready and stopped Bradshaw for no gain. That made it fourth down and one. Instead of trying to power the ball up the middle again, Luck took the snap and rolled to his right. That was where he received a rude greeting from defensive end Jason Hunter. Luck was sacked for a loss of 13 yards.
That gave the Raiders the ball with good field position at the Indianapolis 44-yard line. Another completion to Streater and a scramble by Pryor moved them to the 30. On second and ten from the 30, Pryor floated one up the right side to McFadden for what looked like a touchdown. However, it was overturned by instant replay. McFadden clearly didn’t have control of the ball as he went out of bounds. On third and ten, Pryor found Moore for a gain of 11 and a first down at the 19. Two short completions on the next two plays netted close to nothing and Pryor found himself in another third and long situation. Not a problem. Streater caught a pass for a gain of 17 and that set up a first and goal from the two. A delay of game penalty moved them back five yards, but on third and goal from the five, Pryor hooked up with Moore again for a Raider touchdown. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders now led 17-14 with 11:09 to go in the game.
The Colts started at their 20 and on third and eight from the 22, Luck found Hilton for a gain of 12 and a first down at the 34. An offside penalty and a nine yard pass to Wayne gave the Colts a first down at the Oakland 49. Luck found Heyward-Bey for a gain of nine, and safety Tyvon Branch was flagged for a personal foul. That really helped out the Colts and they now were looking good with a first down at the 25. On third and four from the 19, the Raiders were obviously expecting a pass. Nobody got the memo that Luck is a mobile quarterback. The middle of the field was WIDE OPEN and Luck ran it in for a touchdown. Vinatieri made the point after and the Colts once again had the lead, 21-17 with 5:20 to go in the game.
From their own 20-yard line, the Raiders had some work to do. Pryor scrambled up the right side for seven yards on first down and McFadden ran off left tackle for two more yards. That set up a third and one. On third down, Pryor found tight end Jeron Mastrud standing all alone behind the secondary. Mastrud caught the pass with no defenders between him and the end zone. As he turned to run, he looked like a three-legged wildebeest trying to outrun a pack of lions. I thought “Damn! He has got to be the slowest tight end in the history of the NFL!” The reason he was running so slowly was because he started to cramp up and that allowed the defense to catch him at the Indianapolis 30-yard line. A five-yard penalty moved them back to the 35 and from there, they netted six yards on the next three plays. That set up a very crucial fourth and nine at the 29. Pryor had time to find a receiver and he hit Moore in stride for a gain of 21 yards. It was now first and goal from the eight. Pryor hadn’t been sacked all day, but linebacker Robert Mathis finally got to him for a loss of 16 yards. That made it second and goal from the 24. Pryor looked for Rivera on second down, but the pass was incomplete. On third down, Pryor dropped back to throw again and looked for Streater. His pass was picked off by safety Antoine Bethea and that’s how the game ended. Final score: Colts 21 Raiders 17.
For the Raiders, Terrelle Pryor completed 19 of 29 for 217 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 112 yards on 13 carries. Darren McFadden still can’t seem to get loose. His longest gain was only nine yards and he ended up with 48 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 18 yards. Rod Streater and Denarius Moore tied for the lead in receptions with five apiece. Streater had the most yards receiving with 70. Defensively, they applied some good pressure to Luck and sacked him four times. Linebacker Nick Roach led the defense in solo tackles with five and he had one tackle for a loss.
For the Colts, Andrew Luck completed 18 of 23 for 178 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Vick Ballard led the way in rushing yards with 63 yards on 13 carries. Reggie Wayne caught one touchdown pass and led the team in receptions with eight and receiving yards with 96. Defensively, safety LaRon Landry led the team in solo tackles with ten.
Yes, the Raiders lost the game. But they never stopped fighting. This didn’t look like a team that was ranked number 32 in the power rankings. This wasn’t a team that gave up when they were trailing 14-0 early in the game. This team showed heart and overall, I was happy with what I saw. The penalties were a bit high. They were penalized eight times for 51 yards and the personal foul on Branch really helped the Colts out on their game-winning drive. Also, the offensive line was decimated with injuries during the preseason. Starting guard Tony Bergstrom is out for the year and starting tackle Jared Veldheer is also out until November. Rookie Menelik Watson was inserted to take his place. However, he “tweaked” his knee in practice. That meant right tackle Khalif Barnes had to move from right tackle to the left side. Taking his place at right tackle was newly acquired free agent Tony Pashos. Aside from a couple of false starts in a loud dome, I think they did very well. Pryor was also very critical of himself after the game and says he will get better. He said the loss was “on him.” He shouldn’t be so hard on himself, but I like that attitude.
Up next is the home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Kansas City Chiefs got an easy 28-2 win in Jacksonville on Sunday and the Jaguars will be looking to get a win in Oakland. If the Raiders put forth the effort they showed against the Colts, they should come away with a win. Until then, take it easy.
The Raider Guy