The Oakland Raiders prove that there’s still some fight left in them, as they defeat San Diego 28-13 to complete the season sweep of the Chargers.
With the win, the Raiders are now 4-0 in the division, and own the tie-breaker against the Chargers. As of late, the Chargers have been on their typical second half of the season surge, and Sunday’s ball game was suppose to be some sort of a forgone conclusion, being that San Diego is 18-0 in the month of December dating back to 2006.
Although the Chargers were winners of four straight, they only had a one game lead on the Raiders and yet people felt like this would be an easy game for the Chargers. Memo to the league, analysts and the rest of the nation, sooner or later you all will realize that this Raiders team will be a credible team to cheer for and that the Chargers stranglehold on the AFC West is not as tight as you all want to believe anymore.
The Raiders, behind a dominant running game controlled the pace of this game from start to finish, but it was two key turnovers by the Chargers that allowed the Raiders to jump out to a 14-0 lead. The first was a muffed punt by running back Darren Sproles, which was recovered by safety Hiram Eugene and automatically put the Raiders in the red zone. Quarterback Jason Campbell would score on a 9-yard naked bootleg on 4th and 1 to give Oakland a 7-0 lead. The second turnover came on the next possession when quarterback Philip Rivers overthrew receiver Malcom Floyd an was intercepted by Michael Huff. The result of that was a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Ford that put the Chargers down by two touchdowns.
The Raiders did what they do best and thats running the football. In their last two losses they rushed for a total of 16 yards, which pretty much is unacceptable being that their running game is their main identity on offense. Run DMC (Darren McFadden) rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown, while fellow running back Michael Bush rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown as well. The often criticized offensive line look revitalized as Oakland rushed for a total of 251 yards. Now if the offensive line could stop playing like they have turrets syndrome, the Raiders offense could maintain some form of consistency.
Campbell even rushed for 37 yards, to go along with 117 yards passing and had 2 scores (one rushing and one passing). Campbell didn’t have a great day passing, but picked his spots and made plays when it mattered, especially with his legs. Campbell, being an Auburn Alum, credits Auburn quarterback Cam Newton for motivating him to use his feet to help out the offense which had been struggling as of late.
The defense was major today and looked like the “D” that was present during the 3-game winning streak. Even though Rivers threw for 280 yards and touchdown, he also threw an interception as the defense had him flustered for most of the ball game. The Raiders run defense gave up only 21 yards of rushing, and even though the Chargers didn’t run the ball that much, the run defense stepped up when it had to.
With four games remaining, the Raiders must run the table or at least go 3-1 to make the playoffs. From here on out, each game basically will represent the win or go home mantra. Let’s see if Cable and Co. has what it takes to reach new heights. This should be interesting!
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Written by Arthur Kai