The last six minutes or so of Oakland's Monday night loss to the Broncos are foggy for Terrelle Pryor. The Raiders quarterback took a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from Denver linebacker Wesley Woodyard in the fourth quarter.
Sorry about the loss RaiderNation. I don't remember much ! Good hit by whoever it was. I heard our team fought well .. We will be back!— Terrelle Pryor (@TerrellePryor) September 24, 2013
No surprise there, Pryor took a nasty shot to the noggin.
What is surprising is that he actually stayed in the game for two more plays after that hit. Both plays resulted in incomplete passes.
The NFL has strict rules in place for sending players back into the game after taking a shot to the head. Coaches now have to get the OK from independent neurologists rather than team doctors (thanks in part to the Browns' disastrous handling of Colt McCoy after a James Harrison hit in 2011). The requirements for getting back in the game are more involved than the old "how many fingers" standard teams used to years.
It's an improvement to be sure, but there's one weakness in all of it: pulling players out of the game.
Pryor stayed in after getting hit in the head until the drive ended. Play stopped on the second-and-6 when Pryor took that shot because the ball popped out and Denver challenged that it was a fumble. It gave the Raiders the chance to get a read on how Pryor was feeling after the hit.
Anyone who saw the play would know that the Raiders had a duty to check his status. And the NFL has made it clear that it expects teams to pull players if they suspect a concussion.
Pulling Pryor would have meant time on the sidelines to go through the concussion test. Matt Flynn would have had to enter the game two plays sooner than he did, finishing off Oakland's drive inside the Denver 10-yard line. The Raiders trailed, 37-14, with six minutes on the clock at that point.
Dennis Allen refused to say whether or not Pryor would be able to return in time for Week 4. It's unlikely considering that he was diagnosed with a concussion and now has to go through a battery of tests and procedures before getting cleared to play.
But that still doesn't answer the question of why Allen didn't pull his quarterback after the hit. The shot to the head and the image of Pryor lying motionless afterward, even for just a moment, casts doubts on Allen's handling of the situation and exposes a flaw in the league's concussion policy.
As for Pryor, he assured fans that he'd be fine.
I feel great by the way! Thanks for the concern ! Go Raiders!— Terrelle Pryor (@TerrellePryor) September 24, 2013
Im ready to go.— Terrelle Pryor (@TerrellePryor) September 24, 2013
The concussion policy also protects players from themselves, but only if the coaches are willing to make the right decisions when it counts.