SAN DIEGO The Raiders ended the season the way they started it, losing to the San Diego Chargers and then professing hope for the future.
Rallying from a 24-7 third-quarter deficit and losing 24-21 at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday enabled the Raiders to feel a little better about themselves, although their 4-12 season was their fourth in the last 10 years, the same as under Bill Callahan in 2003, Norv Turner in 2005 and Lane Kiffin in 2007.
"It says a lot about some of the guys in this locker room," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "There's no quit in these guys. They continued to compete, and we gave ourselves an opportunity and a chance in the game. We just didn't get it done."
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor did enough to whet the Raiders' appetite as a keeper for next season by throwing touchdown passes of nine yards to Darrius Heyward-Bey and five yards to Denarius Moore to go with a three-yard touchdown run.
Moore's touchdown came with 1:52 to play after Coye Francies blocked a Mike Scifres punt, with Kaelin Burnett recovering at the San Diego 11-yard line.
Mike Spurlock, who opened the game with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, ended it by recovering Sebastian Janikowski's onside kick. With the Raiders out of timeouts, the Chargers (7-9) kneeled on the ball until time expired.
"When I saw the blocked punt, I thought, 'We're going to win the game,' " Pryor said. "It didn't go that way, but I commend everyone for not stopping."
Pryor completed 13 of 28 passes for 150 yards. He threw one interception by Quentin Jammer in the end zone on the first play of the third quarter when the Raiders had driven to the San Diego 28.
The second-year player from Ohio State had some issues with accuracy, although Raiders receivers dropped at least three relatively easy passes and couldn't come up with a few that would have been difficult plays.
Pryor managed the game well in terms of getting his team in and out of the huddle.
The Raiders played well defensively for the third consecutive game, giving up 210 total yards and stuffing the Chargers' running game (31 carries, 70 yards). The lone blemish was surrendering an 81-yard, 14-play drive capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates that took 9:23 off the clock in the second quarter.
In the end, Spurlock's opening kickoff return, two touchdown passes by Rivers and a 30-yard field goal by Nick Novak were enough in what reportedly was Turner's last game as San Diego's coach.
"I don't think my opinion matters," Turner said. "We are going to meet (today) with the team, and I'm sure they'll start looking for a new coach."
Allen, one year into a four-year contract, would seem to be safe in that regard.
"I don't want to comment on any type of speculation," Allen said. "I'm ready to try and get this team going better into the future."
With that in mind, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and Allen will begin the process of identifying which assistant coaches and players fit into the future following a season they hope paid dividends in terms of a foundation that didn't show up in the won-loss record.
"We have to continue to do the same things that we're doing and the same things that we believe in," Allen said. "We have to try and get the right people. We're looking for guys that love football, that are willing to work and willing to put the team first."
Center Stefen Wisniewski, asked if a foundation for success had been laid, had a hard time getting past the bottom line.
"I would think to lay a solid foundation would be to win more games than that, play a little bit better than we did," he said.
Said Left tackle Jared Veldheer, "There's a lot we have to get better at. But we never came apart, no one talked behind people's backs, we didn't come unglued. I realize it's hard for people to see that."