The Oakland Raiders helped themselves with 19 points from their special teams and defense In Sunday's victory over the rival San Diego Chargers. The game started with three consecutive 3-and-out's by the Chargers on offense as the Raiders defense flew around the field just letting the Chargers know that their running game was going to be a complete non-factor in the Oakland Alameda Coliseum in front of what was perhaps the largest crowd of the year so far. Two blocked punts on two of those three-and-outs were blocked by the Raiders special teams unit and led directly to a safety and a touchdown. Chargers fans can say this game was a fluke and there was an incomplete pass there at the end, but the Raiders can use that old Tom Cable quote we've been hearing so much lately, "Y'all didn't lose it on that last play...you just didn't play well enough throughout the game."The Raiders opened their divisional schedule with a victory over the Chargers, who are 0-2 in the division this year. The Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos also lost today, leaving the Raiders as the sole winner in the AFC West this week. The Raiders snapped a thirteen game winning streak that had been established in series since 2003.
But the news wasn't all good for Oakland. Their offense started slowly with Bruce Gradkowski at the helm. It was obvious from the get go that Gradkowski's throwing shoulder was not working properly. Gradkowski would ultimately reinjure the AC joint in the shoulder on a clean blindside hit from Chargers QB Killa Shaun Phillips. The hit forced Gradkowski out of the game. He would try to come back after halftime, but his arm was having none of it. If Gradkowski were to be out against the 49ers the Raiders could end up being without Gradkowski, HB Darren McFadden, RG Robert Gallery, and WR Chaz Schilens, who were all expected to be impact players on offense for Oakland this season.
But fill-in QB Jason Campbell was on all points today looking good in the pocket, throwing accurate passes, and gashing big pass plays into the middle of the Chargers defense including a pass to play making wide receiver Louis Murphy that went for 58 yards, the longest play allowed by the Chargers defense this year. Campbell led two late touchdown drives by the Raiders in route to a 28-27 lead late in the fourth quarter. Campbell hit 13-18 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. He received a game ball for his performance off the bench in relief of Gradkowski.
But the Raiders didn't roll up a ton of yardage against the NFL's number one defensive unit. The Raiders would end up with only 14 first downs and 279 yards, including 135 total yards and a touchdown from fourth year halfback Michael Bush. Just for the record, the Raiders are 4-0 when Bush gets 100 yards or more rushing.
It was the Chargers who really put on an air show today when quarterback Phillip Rivers threw for 431 yards and two touchdowns (M. Floyd, A. Gates). It was clear from the onset of the game that the Raiders were not going to allow the Chargers to run the football. Ryan Matthews led them in rushing with 59 yards on 9 carries. Matthews also had the long of the day for the Chargers with a 17 yard run that was nearly eclipsed by a later 14 yard run by QB Phillip Rivers who ended up running for his life in the late part of the fourth quarter.
The Raiders played bend but don't break defense all day, rushing four very often, but then at the end, it was an all-out assault on Phillip Rivers. The Raiders blitzed heavily to end the game and ultimately it would be Phillip Rivers who cost the Chargers their chance at a come from behind victory. A sack fumble by Raiders' free safety, Michael Huff, was recovered by strong safety Tyvon Branch who scooped it up and went 64 yards the other way for a touchdown, the Raiders' first defensive TD of the season.
This game was packed with entertainment and nail biting excitement throughout, and my hat really goes off to both teams. This was one that I'll really enjoy watching on replay (perhaps everyday this week). The game that was dubbed the "Battle of the tight ends" saw both Antonio Gates and Zach Miller at their best catching TD's for their respective teams. The Chargers special teams and turnovers that have plagued them on the road this year showed their ugly face again today as they wound up 0-3 on the road this year.
Two lost fumbles in the red zone, a sack fumble that was returned for a TD, two blocked punts for a touchdown and a safety, and a punter with one punt for -1.3 yards (according to NFL.com) are all things that are becoming a habit for the Chargers on the road this year.
But the Raiders earned every bit of this victory. The team really stepped up as a whole this week and brought energy and speed right from the opening snap. I think everybody on this team made a big play at one point or another:
- Nick Miller's 46 yard punt return
- Louis Murphy's 58 yard catch
- Mike Huff's sack fumble (9 total tackles)
- Rolando McClain's big hit late in the last SD drive
- Tommy Kelly had a sack
- Matt Shaughnessy played a huge game
- Mike "Missile" Mitchell was a monster
- Even Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson each made a play at the end.
Total team effort by the Raiders and total effort by the fans, making the trip to Oakland, some from as far away as Pennsylvania and even one from Italy according to Commissioner Roger Goodell who also attended the game at the Coliseum. An up and down struggle where the Raiders learned to never give up, always fight to the final whistle. Oakland was down 24-15 in this one, and it looked like it was about to be lights out, but instead they rallied, they never quit and got the W 35-27 over the Chargers.
The victory leaves the Raiders in a second place tie with the Denver Bronco's, both 2-3, with the Chiefs leading the divsion at 3-1, and the Chargers falling to last place at 2-3 but with two losses in the division.
|SF||13:56||Ball Through End Zone||0||2|
|FG||12:03||Sebastian Janikowski 50 Yd||0||5|
|TD||10:33||Hiram Eugene 5 Yd Return Of Blocked Punt (Sebastian Janikowski Kick)||0||12|
|TD||10:07||Antonio Gates 19 Yd Pass From Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding Kick)||7||12|
|TD||04:49||Mike Tolbert 4 Yd Run (Nate Kaeding Kick)||14||12|
|FG||00:58||Sebastian Janikowski 30 Yd||14||15|
|FG||00:01||Nate Kaeding 43 Yd||17||15|
|TD||07:38||Malcom Floyd 41 Yd Pass From Philip Rivers (Nate Kaeding Kick)||24||15|
|TD||01:12||Zach Miller 1 Yd Pass From Jason Campbell (Sebastian Janikowski Kick)||24||22|
|FG||12:00||Nate Kaeding 34 Yd||27||22|
|TD||03:39||Michael Bush 3 Yd Run (Two-Point Conversion Failed)||27||28|
|TD||00:58||Tyvon Branch 64 Yd Fumble Return (Sebastian Janikowski Kick)||27||35|
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-6||2-3|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||2|
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