For those of you wondering what happened to my article on the Raiders-Dolphins game that was played in week four, the answer is that it never materialized. I was so disgusted with the performance of the Raiders that I couldn’t bring myself to write about it. I can sum it up for you though. The Raiders scored the first touchdown of the game and the last touchdown of the game. Everything in between that was absolute and pure garbage as they lost 38-14. They looked unprepared, uninterested and unmotivated. That has been the case for a while now and I’m thinking the main reason behind that was head coach Dennis Allen. Well, Allen was fired during the bye week and offensive line/assistant head coach Tony Sparano was given the job.
So, with yet another new head coach in Oakland, the Raiders got ready for their game against the San Diego Chargers. Kicker Nick Novak sent the ball through the end zone and the Raiders started at their 20. Their first two plays netted three yards. The next play was good for 77 yards as quarterback Derek Carr found wide receiver Andre Holmes down the middle. He hauled in the pass and took it the rest of the way for a Raider touchdown. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with 14:08 to go in the first quarter.
The Chargers started at their 20 and before they could snap the ball, they gained five yards due to the Raiders being offside. Running back Branden Oliver ran up the middle for a short gain and then quarterback Philip Rivers found tight end Ladarius Green for a gain of 27 yards. A false start moved them back five yards, but they recovered from that nicely as Rivers found tight end Antonio Gates for ten yards and a defensive holding penalty on the Raiders gave them a first down at the Oakland 34-yard line. Two runs by Oliver netted five yards and then Rivers went deep up the left side looking for wide receiver Eddie Royal. Royal hauled in the pass for a 29-yard touchdown. Novak made the point after and the score was knotted at seven with 9:38 to go in the first quarter.
Neither offense did much until the Chargers took over at their 15-yard line with four minutes to go in the first quarter. Oliver ran up the right side for seven yards and that was followed by a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Malcolm Floyd. Two more carries by Oliver set up a third and five from the 48. Rivers had all kinds of time as the anemic pass rush of the Raiders couldn’t get anywhere near him. He fired a pass up the right sideline that was caught by Floyd for a gain of 20 yards. That was followed by another penalty on the Raiders for having 12 men on the field. That’s when the Chargers decided to turn Oliver loose. He kept chipping away and four more carries brought the Chargers down to the eight-yard line. On third and goal from the five, Rivers found Floyd in the end zone for another Charger touchdown. Novak made the point after and the Chargers led 14-7 with 11:52 to go in the second quarter.
The Raiders took over at their 24 and on third and eight, running back Darren McFadden ran up the middle for a nice gain of 12 yards. A 17-yard completion to wide receiver James Jones and a six-yard run by McFadden moved the Raiders into Charger territory. On third and seven from the San Diego 42, Carr found Holmes again for a gain of 30 and a first down at the 12. McFadden was stuffed for a gain of one yard and Carr’s pass to wide receiver Brice Butler on second down fell incomplete. The Chargers jumped offside on the next play and that moved the ball to the six-yard line. From the six, Carr had all the time he needed and he found Jones in the end zone for a touchdown. Janikowski made the point after and the score was 14-14 with 7:25 to go in the second quarter.
The Chargers punted on their next possession and the Raiders took over at their 17 with just under five minutes remaining. On second and ten, Maurice Jones-Drew got loose for a gain of nine and Carr scrambled for two yards on the next play for a first down at the 28. Another good run by Jones-Drew and an 18-yard pass to Jones put the Raiders at the San Diego 46-yard line. They got as far as the 35 and the drive stalled. With only a few seconds to go, Janikowksi was brought into the game to try a 53-yard field goal. That kick never had a chance and it sailed wide left. The score remained tied at 14.
The Chargers started at their 20 and brought out their no huddle offense. On third and 11 from the 19, Rivers hooked up with Royal for a gain of 19 and a first down. What’s really sad about that is that Royal was WIDE OPEN. How can you let a receiver get that open on third and long? Three plays later, the Chargers found themselves in another third and long situation. That’s not really a problem when you go up against the Raider defense. This time, Rivers dumped off a short pass to running back Ronnie Brown and he weaved his way through the defense for a gain of 24 yards and a first down at the Oakland 36. But to my surprise, the defense stiffened and the Chargers had to settle for a field goal attempt. Unlike Janikowksi, Novak had absolutely no trouble making his 54-yard attempt. However, the Chargers were flagged for holding and the kick was nullified. That put them out of field goal range and Mike Scifres came on to punt. But instead of punting, safety Eric Weddle took the snap and threw a deep pass up the right side. It was caught by wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu but he was out of bounds. That gave the Raiders the ball at their 46. Three plays later, Carr hit Butler with a short pass and Butler turned on the speed and turned a short pass into a 47-yard touchdown. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 21-14 with 7:40 to go in the third quarter.
Wow! The Raiders were actually winning a game in the third quarter! Now they needed the defense to come up big. That would be like having a 90-degree day in Siberia. In other words, it didn’t happen. Oliver continued to pound the ball and Rivers had long completions to Green and Floyd. The pass to Floyd was good for 47 yards and that moved them to the Oakland nine-yard line. Three plays later, Rivers found Gates for a one-yard touchdown. Novak made the point after and the score was tied at 21 with 2:52 to go in the third quarter.
Both teams punted on their next possessions and the Raiders got the ball back at the 50. Completions to fullbacks Marcel Reece and Jamize Olawale and a 12-yard run by McFadden moved the Raiders down to the San Diego 22. An illegal use of the hands penalty moved them back ten yards, but Jones-Drew got those yards back quickly with a ten-yard run. Then the Chargers were flagged for having 12 men on the field. McFadden ran up the middle for seven yards to set up a first and goal from the ten. Two plays later, Carr threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game as he found Holmes in the end zone. Janikowksi made the point after and the Raiders went up 28-21 with ten minutes to go in the game.
Once again, if the defense could come up with a stop, it would put the Raiders in position to get a win. Well, opportunity knocked and nobody answered. It took three plays for the Chargers to move from their 20 to the Oakland 30. Now I have to ask defensive coordinator Jason Tarver what the hell kind of scheme was that? The cornerbacks were playing way off the receivers, the “pass rush” was non-existent and Rivers had all day to find an open man. It was truly a sickening display by the defense. Then something really strange happened. When it looked like the Chargers were about to score again, the defense actually started playing a little better and the Chargers had to settle for a field goal. Novak made his 30-yard attempt and the Raiders led 28-24 with 5:52 to go in the game.
Now it was up to the offense to take some precious time off the clock. They did the exact opposite. They went three and out and punted it right back to the Chargers. That “drive” took exactly one minute and nine seconds off the clock. Way to protect that lead, morons! To top that off, return man Keenan Allen returned the punt 29 yards to set the Chargers up at the Oakland 39. A three-yard pass and a seven-yard “scramble” by Rivers moved them to the 29. That’s when Oliver took over and ran right through the defense. Four plays later, Oliver dove into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown. Novak made the point after and the Chargers led 31-28 with 1:56 to go in the game.
The Raiders took over at their 20 and Carr was sacked and the ball came loose. The Chargers recovered and it looked like it was all over. But the Chargers were flagged for a facemask penalty and that gave the Raiders new life at their 35-yard line. Carr completed passes to Jones and Butler and they were in San Diego territory. Then, Carr made a horrible mistake. From the 45, he threw a deep wobbly pass up the left sideline for Butler. The pass was picked off by cornerback Jason Verrett. That brought an abrupt halt to the game and all the Chargers had to do was run out the clock. I don’t know what Carr was thinking. There was double coverage on Butler and there was no reason at all to go deep. I guess we’ll just chalk that one up to a rookie mistake. Carr was clearly upset with himself after making such a poor decision. But it’s not all on him. The defense was horrible all day and that missed field goal by Janikowksi ended up being huge. Final score: Chargers 31 Raiders 28. The win improved the Chargers to 5-1 and the Raiders fell to 0-5.
For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 22 of 34 for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Malcolm Floyd led all receivers in receptions with five and yards with 103 and a touchdown. On the ground, it was all about Branden Oliver. He ran for 101 tough yards on 26 carries and one touchdown. As a team, the Chargers rushed for 116 yards on 33 carries. Defensively, linebacker Donald Butler led the team in solo tackles with seven.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 18 of 34 for 282 yards, four touchdowns and one very costly interception. He could have had a lot more yards than that too. There were several dropped passes in this game. Andre Holmes led all receivers in receptions with four and yards with 121 and two touchdowns. Darren McFadden led the way on the ground with 80 yards on 14 carries. As a team, the Raiders rushed for 114 yards on 20 carries. Defensively, linebacker Sio Moore led the team in solo tackles with seven.
Up next for the Raiders is a visit from the Arizona Cardinals. If the Raider defense continues to play as poorly as they have been, quarterback Carson Palmer will have a good day. As long as Jason Tarver is the defensive coordinator, I expect that happen. The offense is looking much better. But the defense has a long way to go. Until then, take it easy.
The Raider Guy