By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, December 30th, 2012 at 4:26 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders closed the books on a 4-12 season Sunday by rallying from a 17-point deficit only to fall 24-21 to the San Diego Chargers before 66,486 fans at Qualcomm Stadium.
A blocked punt by Coye Francies, recovered by Kaelin Burnett, helped set up Terrelle Pryor’s second touchdown pass, a 5-yard flip to Denarius Moore with 1:52 to play.
San Diego’s Michael Spurlock, who opened the scoring with a 99-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff, then recovered an onsides kick with 1:51 to play. The Chargers then killed the clock to finish 7-9.
San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers threw touchdown passes of 11 yards to Antonio Gates, 34 yards to Danorio Alexander and Nick Novak kicked a 30-yad field goal as the Chargers finished 7-9.
Pryor, in his starting debut, broke an 10-quarter touchdown drought with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey in the second quarter and had a 3-yard touchdown run with 7:43 left and the Raiders trailing 24-7.
Pryor, however, struggled with his passing and didn’t get a lot of help from his receivers, with at least three dropped passes plus some other opportunities where the throws were off-target but still could have been caught.
Pryor completed 13 of 28 passes for 150 yards, one touchdown, and one costly interception by Quentin Jammer in the end zone on a first-half pass with too much loft intended for Heyward-Bey. He also ran for 49 yards on nine carries, mostly on scrambles rather than designed runs.
If there was a turning point from the Raiders, it came after Pryor directed a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that resulted in the touchdown pass to Heyward-Bey.
Pryor had a 10-yard pass to Rod Streater and a 17-yard completion to Brandon Myers, both on the move, and got the Raiders to the 9-yard line with an 8-yard scramble before the touchdown with 12:11 left in the quarter.
When the Raiders most needed a stop, San Diego embarked an epic 14-play, 81-yard drive that took 9:23 on the clock before Rivers threw the touchdown pass to Gates.
Included on the drive was a 6-yard run by upback Eric Weddle out of punt formation out of fourth-and-1, as well as 5-yard defensive penalties on the Raiders for encroachment (Tommy Kelly) and offsides (Lamar Houston).
Oakland’s second touchdown came after an eight-play, 76-yard drive which included one of the few long-distance hookups Pryor managed all day, a 38-yard strike to Streater to the San Diego 3-yard line.