OAKLAND -- A day that began with reports of the Raiders showing interest in acquiring a veteran quarterback ended with Terrelle Pryor making his strongest case yet for being the team's long-term starter.
Pryor completed his first 10 passes and staked the Raiders to a huge lead that they parlayed into a 27-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night.
The Raiders moved into a third-place tie in the AFC West with the Chargers at 2-3. The division-leading Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs improved to 5-0 earlier Sunday.
"He started the game out about as good as you can start out," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said of Pryor.
Pryor also finished strong by guiding the Raiders on a time-consuming drive that ended with Sebastian Janikowski kicking a field goal to extend the lead to 10 after the Chargers rallied from a 24-3 deficit with 14 unanswered points.
Perhaps Pryor's most impressive play came on a 20-yard strike to rookie wide receiver Brice Butler on a third-and-14 play midway through the aforementioned drive.
Allen called that play "huge" and said he was pleased with the way Pryor played overall.
Pryor's strong showing came in the wake of several national reports that linked the Raiders to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, who was released Thursday after a falling out with coach Greg Schiano.
The reports said the Raiders were interested in Freeman as a potential challenger to Pryor's starting job.
By night's end, Freeman reportedly was headed to Minnesota to sign with the Vikings. Pryor was on his way to cementing his status as the Raiders unquestioned starter, at least in the short term and among the quarterbacks currently on the 53-man roster.
Receiver Rod Streater said he didn't know of the Freeman report. Just the same, he added, he's firm on where he stands on the issue.
"That's who I want," Streater said of Pryor. "I trust in him. You saw how well he played (Sunday). That's what he can do, and he's only going to get better."
Pryor said he intends to keep working hard because he feels as if he has plenty of room for improvement.
Not if he plays the way he did Sunday, particularly the first quarter. He completed all 10 of his passes in the opening quarter, with the first eight coming on two drives that netted touchdowns.
"The first half, I thought they couldn't stop us," Pryor said. "We took our foot off the pedal and we took a step back in that way."
Maybe so, but the Raiders took a huge stride toward becoming a better team with, by far, their best all-around effort of the season.
The Raiders defense intercepted Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers three times and forced a fumble that safety Charles Woodson returned for a touchdown, and their special teams recovered a muffed punt, blocked a field-goal attempt and added two Janikowski field goals.
"This was a great team win," Allen said. "All three phases contributed to winning this football game."
Left offensive tackle Khalif Barnes said it's been a long time coming. Time and again, the Raiders showed glimpses of putting it all together, only to be undone by a turnover, a big play or a penalty. Not this time.
Defensive tackle Vance Walker said big things are in store for the Raiders if they play the way they did against the Chargers on a consistent basis.
"We know that we're capable of being a playoff-caliber team," Walker said. "We just have to come out here and prove ourselves every week."
Raiders (2-3) at Kansas City (5-0), 10 a.m. CBS
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