Sunday the San Diego Chargers faced the Oakland Raiders for one of the great rivalries in the NFL. Chargers players and coaches said this game was big because it’s the first division game of the year. For the fans it’s big because Oakland fans and Chargers fans cannot stand each other’s teams.
If you look around Qualcomm Stadium you’ll see almost as many Raiders fans as you do Chargers fans and quarterback Philip Rivers has said in the past they have to treat it like a road game because of the fans in the stadium for their opponents.
From the beginning the game started out bad for the Chargers. As Philip Rivers said after the game, they just didn’t execute their plays and the Raiders did.
Malcolm Smith intercepted Rivers on the Chargers’ opening drive of the game at the Chargers 29 yard line after T.J. Carrie tipped a pass, taking it back to the 27. Then quarterback Derek Carr handed the ball to running back Latavius Murray twice, the second a 1-yard run for a touchdown.
The Raiders scored again on a Sebastian Janikowski field goal, and the Raiders were leading 10-0.
The Chargers got on the board in the first quarter when Josh Lambo kicked a field goal.
It was in the second quarter when the Raiders broke the game wide open. They scored four times: two touchdowns and two field goals. First Clive Wolford caught a 23-yard pass for a TD, then Janikowski kicked two more field goals and then Amari Cooper caught a 52-yard pass from Carr for the second touchdown of the quarter.
The Chargers were only able to answer with a Josh Lambo field goal.
In the third quarter Carr threw his third touchdown pass for the game, a 25-yard strike to Michael Crabtree, bringing the score to 37-6.
The Chargers offense got in gear for the fourth quarter and the Raiders defense wasn’t able to stop the Chargers from making a comeback. Philip Rivers connected for three touch down passes; the first a 31-yard pass to Ladarius Green and the last two to running back Danny Woodhead.
The big difference in the game was that the Raiders had an effective running game. Latavius Murray had 85 yards running on 15 plays. The total running yardage for the Raiders was 130.
The Chargers only had 90 yards on the ground, split between Brandon Oliver (35 yards, nine carries), Melvin Gordon with (29 yards in seven carries) and Danny Woodhead (26 yards, five carries).Woodhead also caught two touchdown passes and Gordon didn’t get into the game until the third quarter.
Once again the Chargers tried relying on their passing game to get the job done. After the game Philip Rivers said it was because they fell so far behind early. “When you’re down 20, it’s hard to run it.”
He added, “We did mix in the run, but I don’t think we were in a position where we could run it and have an 18-play, eight-minute drive. We had to try and go.”
The score could have been higher for the Raiders, if it hadn’t been for penalties, especially the foolish ones. When the Raiders were in the red zone, on the one-yard line Donald Penn was called for Unnecessary Roughness and the ball was moved back to the San Diego 16. They got penalized again for false start, putting the ball back another five yards. So instead of a touchdown from the one-yard line, the Raiders had to settle for another Janikowski field goal.
The Raiders had 14 penalties for 136 yards. The Chargers had their penalty problems as well: nine for 86 yards.
The Chargers tried three onside kicks in the fourth quarter, but were unable to get the ball on any of them.
The game ended with the score, Raiders 37, Chargers 29, but for most observers, the game wasn’t as close as the score suggests.
Both teams had over 400 yards of offense and the Raiders had control of the ball a little more than the Chargers.
San Diego had more passing yards and both quarterbacks had three touchdown passes. Carr didn’t throw any interceptions; Rivers had two, the only turnovers in the game.
After the game Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said he wanted his team to, “… just relax and play good football. I thought that was a pretty good example of that early.”
After the game Melvin Gordon said, “It hurts bad. It’s a rivalry game, a conference game — we just gotta find our rhythm and get rolling.”
Next week the Raiders play the New York Jets in Oakland and the Chargers will see the Ravens in Baltimore.
( L.A. Post-Examiner Staff contributed to this article)
(Photos by Claudia Gestro)
Claudia is of Peruvian and Italian descent, having been born in a small town, in the North of Peru, South America. She was raised by her grandmother from an early age, living in poverty until Claudia’s mother brought her to America. She landed in Miami, FL and started her new life, playing high school basketball and eventually becoming a United States citizen. Claudia completed her education at Florida International University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and became a model to supplement her income. Since graduating from FIU Claudia has worked with many of the Spanish Language broadcasting companies, including Telemundo, Univision and most recently Spanish Language channels on SiriusXM satellite radio and PasTV Deportes in Venezuela.She encourages you to follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Her content appears here under a shared content agreement with her Spanish television clients.