HOUSTON -- There is no way Matt McGloin should've done what he did here Sunday, not him, no chance ... are you kidding?
For a franchise that can't seem to figure out what to do at quarterback, in a season loaded with uncertainty, of course, it was McGloin who made it all seem solid and sensible for at least one game.
Him. Yes. Naturally, the Never-Chosen One.
McGloin didn't merely come out of nowhere to replace the injured Terrelle Pryor, throw three touchdowns and command the Raiders offense through an eye-popping 28-23 victory over fading Houston.
No, McGloin came out of some alternative dimension five times more distant than nowhere, doing something slightly more than impossible, and making it seem stunningly more than inevitable.
"It was about what I expected," coach Dennis Allen said coolly. "I really did. I expected the kid to come in and play well, and he did."
Allen expected McGloin -- an undrafted rookie who was a walk-on in college and who looks and talks like a particularly dry FBI man -- to play like ... this?
But there does seem to be a distinct aura about McGloin's journey from forgotten to Penn State starter and then forgotten again by the NFL to firing a touchdown on his first NFL pass as a starter on Sunday.
And throwing strike after strike after strike ...
"This is what happens when preparation meets opportunity," McGloin said after his 18-for-32 performance that included many, many drops of on-target passes. "I've been prepared for a while now to get in there."
He started Sunday only because Pryor's right knee kept him out, and because Matt Flynn flopped early in the season, and because fourth-round draft pick Tyler Wilson flopped in training camp.
And because he's Matt McGloin and nobody else could've done it like this.
That's the power of McGloin's journey: If it were easy, it wouldn't feel so supra-special when he gets his chance and knocks it out of the park.
Or when he gets into his first huddle as an NFL starter ... and, according to center Stefen Wisniewski, starts making fun of guard Lucas Nix.
"Just a stupid joke," Wisniewski, a fellow Penn State product, said approvingly.
And tailback Rashad Jennings said that McGloin truly took charge of the offense, even making sure to get the Raiders into a good play a few times when the call was late coming in.
Then, when McGloin was the last man into the locker room after the game, his teammates roared for him, hugged him, and he was handed a game ball by Allen.
Deserved. Incredible. Impossible.
"Some of these guys just have it, you know what I mean?" Allen said of McGloin, signed as an after-thought "camp arm" last summer. "Some of them, there's something deep down inside of them that they don't pay any attention to the fact that people say they can't do it."
What does that mean for the Raiders' QB situation when Pryor is healthy?
Asked directly, Allen said he just wanted to enjoy the victory for a while and then make a decision on a full-time starter later. But he added that McGloin was, of course, very good against the Texans.
Left unsaid: Pryor hasn't been very good in the last few weeks, most of them while wobbling on his bad leg, and the Raiders coaches were a little curious about McGloin before all that, anyway.
On Sunday, McGloin was smart, he threw the ball quickly, with conviction and force, and maybe he did a ton of subtle and not-so-subtle things that Pryor hasn't done for the Raiders.
McGloin's third-quarter TD throw to Mychal Rivera was especially perfect -- he had to delay a split-second to let a linebacker clear, then ripped it on a line to Rivera 26 yards down field.
That was simply one of the Raiders' best pure passes in years.
Take it for what it's worth: Pryor didn't fly out to Texas with the team because Allen said Pryor was sick Saturday, and injured players usually don't fly to road games, anyway.
McGloin said that Pryor helped him prepare for the Texans throughout last week.
"We have a very healthy relationship, Terrelle and I," McGloin said. "You know, this is his team."
All of this doesn't mean McGloin is absolutely better than Pryor, that he should be lifted to the starting spot immediately, or that McGloin is a long-term playoff-level QB.
But it's worth a discussion. It's not a QB Controversy for the Raiders -- because neither guy has proved he can do this job for a season.
It's a QB Discussion, and McGloin, out of nowhere, with just this one game, has proved he belongs in it, and probably should have the lead in it.
"There is always more to prove and more to do," McGloin said. "I think I got off to a good start. But we'll see."
This guy, who nobody has ever chosen first, did what he always does. He doesn't seem to change, it's just the stages that get bigger and bigger.
Tennessee (4-6) at Raiders
(4-6), 1:05 p.m. CBS
too close for comfort.