ALAMEDA, California — Matt McGloin's rapid ascent from undrafted rookie free agent could lead to him becoming the regular starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders.
McGloin threw three touchdown passes against Houston in his first career start as he led the Raiders to their first road victory of the season, earning himself serious consideration for a shot to take over the starting role from Terrelle Pryor.
Coach Dennis Allen wasn't ready to announce a decision Monday about who would start this week against Tennessee because he wants to talk to Pryor to determine the status of his injured right knee.
"I'm not sure exactly where he is physically, but I will say this, with Matt's performance, he's earned the right to be in the discussion," Allen said. "That's for sure."
Tellingly, Allen would not commit to Pryor starting Sunday if he is healthy, saying the decision will be made on what's best for the team.
"Our job as coaches is to try to do the things that we feel like give us the best opportunity to win," he said. "That's what those players in that locker room are looking for. Now, it's good to know that you have options. That's, obviously, a positive. I don't look at it as a tough situation. I look at it as a good situation."
McGloin completed 18 of 32 passes for 197 yards, the three touchdowns and no interceptions in one of the best debut starts of any rookie, much less an undrafted one.
McGloin became the first Raider in four years to throw at least three touchdowns and no interceptions in a game and joined former Raider Todd Marinovich as the only rookies since the 1970 merger to do that in their first career start.
That helped lead the Raiders (4-6) to a 28-23 win that put them back into the thick of the race for the final AFC playoff spot. Oakland is one of seven teams in the AFC with four wins. Miami and the New York Jets are tied at 5-5 for the sixth and final playoff spot with six games to play.
"I thought he had great command of the huddle," Allen said. "I thought his presence on the field was outstanding. I thought he did a great job communicating with the sideline. When you watch him in the passing game, there weren't a lot of unsettledness. He was calm in the pocket. He worked through his progression. He threw the ball with timing and accuracy. In particular, for the first time out and the first time starting, I thought he handled himself very well."
The performance was a stark contrast to the way Pryor had played in recent weeks. Since a promising start to the season, Pryor struggled in recent weeks before finally being forced to sit because of a sprained MCL in his right knee.
Since the start of Week 6, Pryor has completed 61 of 120 passes for 714 yards with one touchdown and eight interceptions. Pryor is last in the NFL in that span in completion percentage (50.8) and passer rating (44.2) and is tied for the most interceptions. Pryor has gone 112 straight passes since throwing a touchdown pass.
McGloin threw one to Denarius Moore on his first pass of the game to help set the tone for the win. McGloin got rid of the ball much faster than Pryor, taking pressure off a struggling offensive line, and even had more success on deep balls. He completed three of his five passes that went beyond 21 yards in the air, compared to just one for Pryor on six tries in the past four games.
"In my eyes, he really played flawless," safety Charles Woodson said after the game. "He played flawless football, especially for this being his first start in the National Football League. He put the ball in there. He had some guys early on in the game that had some drops, but he put it right on the numbers and those are catches the guys have to make for him. He played well all day long and made some huge throws for us."
NOTES: WRs Andre Holmes and Moore both are getting MRIs after injuring their shoulders in the game. RG Mike Brisiel had an MRI on his injured knee that came back negative. ... DE Jason Hunter (foot) and Daniel Muir (knee) also had MRIs that Allen did not have results on.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org