The tenth game of the year for the Oakland Raiders was a trip down south to San Diego to take on the Chargers. The Raiders were coming off a horrid 41-17 loss to the Denver Broncos and the Chargers were coming off their bye week. The Raiders got the ball first and started at their own 22. They wouldn’t have the ball very long because quarterback Derek Carr and center Stefen Wisniewski weren’t on the same page. The ball came loose on the first snap of the game and was recovered by linebacker Donald Butler at the 22. Two plays later, quarterback Philip Rivers found wide receiver Malcolm Floyd in the end zone for a touchdown. Kicker Nick Novak made the point after and the Chargers led 7-0 with 14:07 to go in the first quarter.
After each team punted on their next possession, the Raiders took over at their 30-yard line. The drive started out like it always does. Running back Darren McFadden ran up the middle for two yards. On third and eight, Carr completed a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Andre Holmes for a first down at the 41. That was followed by a nice catch and run by tight end Mychal Rivera for a gain of 33 yards and a first down at the San Diego 26. See what happens when you stretch the field? You actually gain some yardage and get in position to score. You might even score a touchdown! Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Well, that didn’t happen. The next three plays consisted of a short completion to Rivera, a run up the middle by fullback Marcel Reece for no gain and a shovel pass to McFadden. The shovel pass play was set up nicely with lots of blockers in front of McFadden. Unfortunately, he wasn’t paying attention and he dropped the ball. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came into the game and his 42-yard field goal attempt was good. The Chargers led 7-3 with 7:27 to go in the first quarter.
Then the punting began. Punters Marquette King and Mike Scifres both had good workouts in this game. Each of them punted nine times for a grand total of 826 yards. That’s pretty impressive, but if you like a game with a lot of offense, this one wasn’t for you. At the 9:39 mark of the second quarter, the Chargers took over at their 43-yard line. On second and nine from the 44, Rivers found tight end Antonio Gates for a gain of 12 and a first down at the Oakland 44. That was followed by a 13-yard completion to wide receiver Eddie Royal and three straight carries by running back Ryan Mathews moved the Chargers into the red zone. But the drive was halted at the five and Novak was brought into the game for a 23-yard attempt. The kick was good and the Chargers led 10-3 with 4:12 to go in the first half.
On their next possession, the Raiders moved from their 20 to their 44. That’s where they had a fourth and one situation. They had a third and one situation on the play before and naturally offensive coordinator Greg Olson called for McFadden to run up the middle. He was stuffed for no gain and that’s what caused the Raiders to be in this predicament. What could they do? Run McFadden up the middle again? Maybe catch the aggressive Charger defense off guard and go deep? While the debate was going on, I’m sitting in my living room yelling “Go for it! You’re 0 and nine! You have nothing to lose!” Of course they didn’t listen to me and they punted again. The Chargers took over at their 30 with 1:48 to go in the half and completions to Floyd, Gates and wide receiver Keenan Allen moved them down to the Oakland 30-yard line. With two seconds on the clock, Novak was brought in for a 48-yard attempt. It was long enough, but sailed wide left. At halftime, the score remained 10-3.
After another punt by King, the Chargers got the ball back at their 33. A five-yard carry by Mathews was followed by a neutral zone infraction on the Raiders. That’s a five-yard penalty and it gave the Chargers a first down. From the 43, Mathews ran up the right side for 20 yards and was finally dragged down at the Oakland 37. They didn’t get much further after that and the Raiders dodged a bullet when a holding penalty brought back a deep completion to Floyd. Novak came on for another field goal attempt and his 52-yard kick was good. That put the Chargers up 13-3 with 7:19 to go in the third quarter. For most teams, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But when your offense is as bad as the Raiders, a ten-point lead is insurmountable.
Then the punt-fest began. Neither offense could get going and after many close calls throughout the year, Raider rookie linebacker Khalil Mack finally got his first sack. Hopefully there are many more to come. Then, a very strange thing happened with around three minutes to go in the third quarter. There was a loud popping sound coming from the Raider’s sideline. I couldn’t figure out what it was at first, but then I realized it was the offensive coaches pulling their heads out of their asses. They finally put running back Latavius Murray in the game! Murray responded with two carries off left tackle. His first carry was good for 14 yards and the next one was for 23 yards. He almost got loose for a long touchdown on the second one, but was dragged down at the San Diego 49-yard line. Then they took him out of the game and put McFadden in. Why? Because idiocy knows no boundaries. The next three plays gained five yards and they punted yet again. The ball was downed at the one-yard line.
More punting followed until the 6:15 mark of the fourth quarter. The Raiders took over at their 45 and went to the no huddle offense. Completions to Rivera and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins quickly moved them down to the San Diego 15-yard line. From the 15, Carr completed a seven-yard pass to Murray. That was followed by a short carry by Murray. On third down, Carr looked for wide receiver James Jones in the end zone. The pass was poorly thrown and fell incomplete. Janikowksi came in and his 25-yard field goal attempt was good. With four minutes to go in the game, the Chargers led 13-6.
Basically, all the Chargers had to do was get a couple of first downs and the game would be over. They started at their 20 and Rivers competed a 13-yard pass to Allen. That was followed by an eight-yard run by Mathews. On second and two, Mathews was stopped for a loss of one yard. That made it third and three from the 40. The Raiders brought some good pressure, but Rivers was able to get off a pass intended for Gates. Safety Charles Woodson was in perfect position to pick off the ball and it was tipped in the air. Somehow, Gates came up with the ball and it was good for a gain of 15 yards. That was the dagger for the Raiders. They did manage to get the ball back with 1:05 to go in the game and on fourth and nine from the 13, Carr connected with Jones for a gain of 28 and a first down at the 41. Then, Carr spiked the ball to stop the clock with 11 seconds to go. From the 41, Carr went deep up the right side and the pass fell incomplete. It looked like there was still two seconds on the clock when the ball hit the ground. But the zebras said the game was over and that’s how it ended. Final score: Chargers 13 Raiders 6. The loss dropped the Raiders to 0-10 and the Chargers improved to 6-4.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 16 of 34 for 172 yards. As the game progressed, he started getting the “deer in headlights” look in his eyes. He was rushing his throws and didn’t look comfortable. Mychal Rivera led the team in receptions with three and Kenbrell Thompkins had the most receiving yards with 47. Latavius Murray gave the running game a spark and he led the team in rushing with 43 yards on four carries. As a team, the Raiders rushed for 71 yards on 19 carries. Defensively, safety Charles Woodson led the team in solo tackles with 11. Overall, the defense played very well. Although they only had two sacks, they did a good job of pressuring Rivers. The longest play the Chargers had was 22 yards. That was the touchdown pass on the third play of the game.
For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 22 of 34 for 193 and one touchdown. Keenan Allen led the team in receptions with eight and receiving yards with 63. On the ground, Ryan Mathews led the way with 70 yards on 16 carries. As a team, the Chargers rushed for 120 yards on 32 carries. Defensively, linebacker Kavell Conner led the team in solo tackles with six and a sack.
Up next for the Raiders is a Thursday night game in Oakland against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are looking pretty solid this year and are coming off a big 24-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks. What I hope to see from the Raiders is a lot more of Murray and a lot less of McFadden and Jones-Drew. The Chiefs are very good against the pass, but they are ranked 25th against the run. I’d love to see Murray get a minimum of 20 carries. But I doubt that will happen. Know why? Because it would make sense. And when it comes to installing offensive game plans, the Raiders make no sense. Only six games to go. Take it easy.
The Delusional Raider Guy