OAKLAND -- Matt Flynn did OK in his preseason debut as Raiders quarterback, about as well as could reasonably be expected, and then the newly acquired Game Manager stepped aside for the People's Choice.
And when Terrelle Pryor took the field in the second quarter, to the delight Raiders fans at the Coliseum, he was predictably TP -- spectacular aside from one maddening illustration of why he remains below the glass ceiling to his full potential.
That Pryor was mostly gorgeous but momentarily grotesque in the Raiders' 19-17 win over Dallas in a preseason game Friday night explains why Oakland coach Dennis Allen and his assistants are more comfortable with Flynn as the starter.
For now, to be sure, and perhaps well into the foreseeable future.
That is and should be the case despite the picturesque third-quarter throw by rookie free agent Matt McGloin that resulted in a 30-yard touchdown pass to impressive rookie wide receiver Brice Butler. That pass merely shed light on why McGloin has moved ahead of fourth-round draft pick Tyler Wilson on the team's depth chart.
Goal No. 1B for the Raiders offense is to find players, besides running back Darren McFaddden, who are reliable and talented enough to make winning plays. Goal No. 1A, though, is developing confidence in a quarterback and having faith that he will run the team wisely and operate the game plan efficiently.
Right now, Flynn is that guy even as Allen concedes Pryor also will get playing time in the regular season.
"He will play," coach said of Pryor.
If Pryor tantalizes, Flynn stabilizes. A five-year veteran with only two career starts, he played the first quarter, completing 4-of-5 passes, all of them short or midrange and between the 20-yard lines. He threw accurate darts, which is all that will be asked insofar as that best suits his average arm strength.
"My job is to get the ball into the hands of our playmakers," Flynn said in an honest expression of his role.
His only blemish was fumbling deep in Oakland territory after a blindside hit from linebacker Sean Lee, who slipped through a hole in the offensive line.
Allen rightfully acknowledged the costly fumble was "more a function of protection" than any negligence on the part of Flynn.
Flynn, acquired from Seattle in April, showed rather like a poor man's Alex Smith, circa 2011, a "game manager." At this stage, the Raiders will take that.
What they can't take and won't accept is the kind of interception Pryor, entering his third season, threw 5:58 before halftime.
After a terrific drive during which he marched the Raiders 84 yards with a dazzling variety of runs and smart passes, bringing the crowd to its feet, Pryor finished a third-and-4 play from the Dallas 6 by rolling right and throwing left, into disaster.
He was aiming for Butler, found Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox in the end zone and jogged off the field apologizing to his coaches and teammates.
"He should have tucked it and ran," Allen said.
"It was a stupid, greedy play," Pryor said. "But I learned from it."
Indeed, Pryor bounced back on his next drive with three successive completions -- to Juron Criner, then to David Ausberry, then to Andre Holmes. Pryor twice threw the ball away, allowing Sebastian Janikowski to boot his second field goal before halftime.
Allen said he was mostly pleased with his quarterbacks, particularly Flynn, Pryor and McGloin, but lamented the turnovers from his two veterans.
It was turnovers that not only blighted what otherwise was a good 2012 season by Carson Palmer but also led fans to turn on Palmer and campaign for Pryor. Yet it is turnovers, even more than his still-developing passing skills, which will dictate Pryor's future in Oakland.
He is the team's most exciting quarterback. There are instances when he looks like he also can be its best. Then there are moments when the Ohio State product is the sloppiest passer on the roster.
Though Wilson showed promise in minicamps -- some believed he could contend for the starting role -- he's now fighting for a job. If he continues to be outplayed by McGloin, it won't matter that he was drafted. General manager Reggie McKenzie and Allen will not be, and can't afford to be, influenced by anything other than performance.
That's why Flynn has a grip on the job, and why Pryor will play when situations call for his skill set. The Game Manager trumps the People's Choice, until the People's Choice also manages the game.