INDIANAPOLIS -- No matter how much film -- little was available -- was watched or how many college coaches they talked to about the read-option offense, the Indianapolis Colts really didn’t know what they were getting into with Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Pryor, making just the second start of his pro career, had the Colts guessing whether he would tuck the ball and run or use his arm to make something happen.
Pryor threw for 217 yards and rushed for 112 yards in Oakland’s 21-17 loss to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
“He’s a problem,” Colts linebacker Robert Mathis said. “He’s a very athletic guy. He can make you pay with his arm, too. We were able to get him under control at the very end, that’s all that matters.”
The Colts spent the week preparing for Pryor and the read option despite Raiders coach Dennis Allen playing games by not saying who would start at quarterback, whether Pryor or Matt Flynn.
The Raiders ran the read option some, but Pryor did a lot of improvising.
Think playing pickup football as a kid and doing whatever it takes to keep a drive going. Then throw in some video game moves, and that was Pryor for you.
“They did a nice job with their scheme," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Those things are easier said than done. It’s hard, especially in the opener. You watch the tape and you watch the preseason, and it’s really hard to gauge and know exactly what you’re going to get. We knew we had a heck of a football player coming here, a talented guy, a great athlete.”
Every time it seemed like the Colts had a shot on Pryor, the young quarterback would find a way to keep the drive going.
That was the case when they forced the Raiders into a fourth-and-9, but Pryor found Denarius Moore for a 21-yard completion across the middle to keep hope alive for Oakland.
The Colts were frustrated, but they weren’t going to start pointing fingers at one another. That’s the last thing they needed to do.
“You have to shoot your guys on guys like that,” Redding said. “What I mean by that, you can’t rush him cautiously. You just have to shoot for the outside leg and make him cut back in and hope the pursuit is there. Everybody hung in there. We kept flying around. We knew he was going to make plays, and he’s a heck of an athlete. We just had to weather the storm and just keep stopping them as much as we could.”
The persistence finally paid off for the Colts when Mathis got their only sack of the game on Pryor with just over a minute left in the game -- a 16-yard loss that pushed the Raiders back to Indianapolis’ 24-yard line.
Two plays after that, the Colts were finally able to feel like they escaped Pryor when Antoine Bethea picked him off at their 6-yard line.
“Use all your bullets, throw the gun, throw the belt holder, too,” Mathis said about trying to defend Pryor.