OAKLAND — The 2013 season ended with more questions than answers for the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
The futures of the general manager, coach and quarterback remain murky. Same goes for rest of the roster, too. From the top to the bottom, nobody delivered a strong lasting impression.
Just like most games the past two years.
Peyton Manning directed Denver to a 31-0 lead before sitting out the second half, and the Broncos routed the Raiders 34-14 in the season finale.
Raiders owner Mark Davis had said he would wait until after the season to make decisions about whether to bring back general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen. He never surfaced in the postgame locker room.
“That’s a decision that’s made over my head,” Allen said. “I fully expect to be back. I fully believe that I deserve the opportunity to come back here and get a chance to go through the reconstruction phase. I want to be part of the rebuilding phase.”
Allen has an 8-24 record in two seasons with the Raiders (4-12), who have been hampered by bad contracts and bad drafts in the final years of late owner Al Davis’ tenure. No Raiders coach has even been brought back after two straight losing seasons.
Oakland also has struggled to find impact players in the first two drafts under McKenzie and done little in free agency because of financial restrictions. The Raiders had more than $50 million of “dead money” on their salary cap, meaning about 40 percent of their cap went to players no longer in the organization.
“It’s been a tough couple of years on everybody,” Allen said.
The decision to go back to Terrelle Pryor at starting quarterback after six games with Matt McGloin also failed to provide a spark to carry into the offseason.
Pryor looked rusty in his return, missing receivers and having little room to run on read-option plays and scrambles. He completed 21 of 38 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns after the game was out of reach.
“I would say I’m inconsistent. Period,” Pryor said. “I got to get better.”
Oakland’s struggles were only magnified more by Manning’s brilliance.
Manning set the NFL single-season record for yards passing and threw four first-half touchdown passes to help the Broncos (13-3) clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs. He broke Drew Brees’ record of 5,476 yards set in 2011 with a 5-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas with 13 seconds left in the half.
That ended Manning’s day having completed 25 of 28 passes for 266 yards. He finished the season with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes.
The Raiders, meanwhile, ended their 11th straight non-winning season with six straight losses and just barely avoided another dreadful mark. Oakland allowed 453 points this season, the second-most in franchise history. The 1961 team allowed 459 points.
Players applauded Allen and the front office and called for continuity moving forward, as players usually do.
“The tough thing about the NFL is it’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league,” Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. “It’s a league of no patience. It’s kind of hard to see things when you have a couple of losing seasons like they’ve had here. Of course the knee-jerk reaction is to blow it up, but I think to get the consistency you have to give someone a chance to let it run its course. We’ll see what happens.”
After showing signs of progress early this season, the Raiders regressed down the stretch to put McKenzie’s and Allen’s jobs in jeopardy.
The season finale was no different. The Raiders were completely exposed by Manning. He frequently targeted fill-in cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, who started for the injured Mike Jenkins.
A bad snap by Stefen Wisniewski on the first play of the next drive set up a 7-yard TD pass to Knowshon Moreno and the rout was on.
Brock Osweiler played the entire second half for Manning in his most extensive action of his two-year career. He completed 9 for 13 passes for 85 yards but only led Denver to one field goal.
The Raiders couldn’t even capitalize on their one good chance as Sebastian Janikowski missed his ninth field goal of the season after a blocked punt by Jamize Olawale gave Oakland the ball at the Denver 24.
“We fell short,” Pryor said. “That’s the most disappointing thing.”
NOTES: Pryor ran for 49 yards to give him 576 yards rushing for the season, breaking Rich Gannon’s franchise mark of 529 for quarterbacks set in 2000. … The Raiders had about 45 members of the 1983 team that won the Super Bowl on hand for a halftime ceremony.