13 Game Gorilla Rolls Off Raiders Backs
Raiders 35 - Chargers 27
This game was the most exciting, big play filled, and inspirational Raider victory that I've witnessed in a very long time. To bust up the 13 game losing streak to the Chargers and the manner in which it was accomplished made it extra sweet. Never mind that the Raiders secondary was torched for 415 yards passing. Doesn't matter that the Chargers offense compiled 228 more yards and converted 15 more first downs. When push came to shove, this Raiders TEAM showed grit, heart, and were extremely opportunistic.
Here are some random comments and a chronological list of pivotal moments and extraordinary plays worth noting:
Opening Drive of the game: S.D. goes 3 and out; Rock Cartright stuffs Scifer's punt.
Result: Safety and early 2-0 lead.
Comment: Great start by D and Special Teams to get the fans energized.
2nd SD Drive: S.D. goes 3 and out; Brett Myers dives to block Scifer's punt attempt.
Result: Hiram Eugene scoops it up for an easy TD. Raiders 12-0 lead.
Comment: As my brother said, "The Chargers special teams coach will be flippin' burgers on Monday"
3rd SD Drive: SD offense churns out 5 first downs and moves from own 20 yard line down to the Raiders 1 yard line. On 3-1 and goal play, rarely used LB Ricky Brown stops RB Tolbert and causes a fumble recovered by Mike Mitchell.
Result: Raiders D denies Chargers in the red zone with a key, goal line takeaway.
Comment: 2 early themes for the day are established ... make a play when you have to and you don't have to be a "star" player to make impact plays. 1st 3 possessions by S.D. and the roll call is Cartright, Myers, Eugene, Brown, Mitchell.
4th SD Drive: After torching Routt for a 55 yard bomb to WR Floyd, the Chargers have the ball in the red zone once again. On 2-7 from the Raider 14 yard line, Matt Shaughnessy sacks QB Rivers and causes a fumble recovered by LaMar Houston.
Result: Raiders D denies the Chargers in the red zone with another opportunistic takeaway.
Comment: Shaughnessy deserves more snaps on the DLine. In my opinion, Shaughnessy is the most consistent and active DLineman in providing QB pressure. He is relentless in his pursuit of the QB and an unsung hero of the DLine.
Raiders 3rd Quarter Offensive Drive (7:31): Down 24-15 and starting the possession at their own 3 yard line, QB Campbell showed tremendous poise. After reflecting on this crazy game, in my mind, this series was the difference maker. If the Raiders offense stalls near the goal line, the Chargers are looking at a short field, momentum, and a chance to put their foot on the Raiders throat by potentially going up by 16.
Result: Campbell directs a balanced attack covering 97 yards and converting on 5 third downs culminating in a beautiful throw and catch by Zach Miller in the back of the end zone. Raiders right back in the game (SD 24 - Oak 22).
Comment: When the Campbell TD was challenged by Norv Turner all I could think was "Oh no, here we go again with the refs screwin' us!". It was a mini deja vu moment of the Murphy TD in the opener last year.
Raiders 4th Quarter Offensive Drive (11:55): After the Chargers kicked a FG to press their lead to 27-22, the Raiders offense answers the call again. This drive had key completions to Murphy, Miller including a gutsy 4-1 call where TE Myers went out in the flat and picked up 12 yards.
Result: Raiders take the lead on a Bush 3 yard TD run. Raiders 28 - Chargers 27
Comment: With McFadden out, Bush steps up for 100+ yards. When Ski went down, Campbell moved the offense efficiently.
S.D. Offensive Series (Own 28 yard line; 3:31) : With plenty of time on the clock, 3 time outs, and only needing a FG, the Chargers looked to be in a position to put the Raider fans' hearts in a blender. As the Chargers stormed easily up the field, gaining 4 1st downs completions to the Raiders 34 yard line, the game was on the line. DC Marshall dials up the blitz pressure ... better late than never.
Result: Safety Michael Huff makes the play of the game. Instead of Huff going for a sack, he wisely attacked Rivers throwing arm causing a fumble. Safety Tyvon Branch scoops up the fumble and takes it 64 yards to paydirt. Raiders 35 - Chargers 27
Comment: This play completely flipped the script. Instead of another close heartbreaking loss, the Raiders finished the job with a knock out.